Leaders Are Parents

Why leaders must accept the role of the external approver of their teams

An office worker kneels in front of a manager in a crowded office
Mid Journey Prompt: "an office worker kneels, being knighted by a manager, coworking space, large crowd, anime drawing"

Kudos bosses, you're doing everything right: you've upgraded the coffee, granted unlimited PTO, and even offered a raise, yet your team still isn't happy. What gives?

Well, it turns out that we humans have been seeking approval from authority figures since the caveman days. From tribal elders in the jungle to cool kids in the cafeteria and now to our bosses in the workplace. We crave validation like a puppy craves belly rubs.

But here's the thing: we're creatures of habit. We're wired to seeking validation from outside authority. In fact, this is why so many of us prefer to work for someone else, because it is assuring to know who our validators are, and because it is daunting, foreign, and almost unnatural to rely on ourselves for approval and validation. We can't expect our teams to become their own validators overnight. It's hard to break old habits and overcome our instincts, history, and baggage. And if you are honest, you know how hard it is to stop seeking external approval.

Therefore as leaders, we need to understand this dynamic and it is borderline cruel to ignore the validation our teams seek from us. You need to decide what kind of parents/teachers/elders you want to be for your team. Do you want to be a "you're never good enough" parent or a "tough love" professor?

So, no matter how fancy your coffee is or how many yoga sessions you offer, it's your validation that matters most. Bosses, embrace your role as the ultimate validator. It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it.

How I used #chatgpt to create this:

Step 1:
ChatGPT Prompt:
" Create outline of paragraphs from the following points:

  • We seek approval from outside authority and we continue to do this in the workplace
  • This is who we are evolutionarily
  • Leaders must accept this reality and play a constructive role in this dynamic"

Step 2:
I (a human!) edited the output and written 70% of the content

Step 3:
I pasted what I have written into ChatGPT and prompted, "Make it light-hearted, using animals as a theme"

Step 4:
Final 10% edits by me.