Do Parents Make Better Managers?


New research implies that if you want to be a better manager, you should become a parent.

According to new research, parents–at least those committed to family life–actually perform better in the office. Researchers from Clark University and the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, N.C., interviewed 347 managers and executives, mostly from large public companies, about their family lives. Then they talked to the participants' colleagues, subordinates and bosses about their work performance…

…But he acknowledges that parenting skills and management skills do overlap. "Having kids forces you to learn how to make compromises, and to listen, and to try and support them to be better," Tirado says.

Of course, just because the same characteristics that make a good manager make a good parent, that doesn't mean one causes the other. "The best employees are probably those who are engaged in all life roles," says Tammy Allen, a psychology professor at the University of South Florida who also studies the interactions between work and family life. "It's just indicative of someone who's an active, engaged individual." But Allen adds that parents do develop useful business skills. And people with happy family lives tend to be happier at work as well.

Sounds like I should stop wasting my time reading management books and start…well, you know.

  • Dan

    I don’t disagree with your thesis, but don’t you think in part that parents are more motivated to be better employees because they have to support their kids?

  • COD

    Actually, there won’t be a decision point here for you. Once the kids come, you won’t have time for the business books ;)

  • Rob

    I’m sure that’s one reason. There are probably a multitude of issues here that the research didn’t accurately separate out, and it’s probably more correlation than causation.

    That’s what I hear, hence the waiting.

  • When my first son was born my boss told me, “Here’s my best advice for you. Every now and then let him win!”
    That’s remarkably similar to some great advice I got researching my book on follow through. Tom Kelley told me, “To lead a hot team I had to learn to bite my lip.”

  • Do managers make better parents?

  • aka_c

    Parenthood transforms people. Most parents associate their pre-kid years with adolescence/college — a time when self interest rules all. New moms and dads pass through a gauntlet. The ones who get through successfully shed the narcissism and accept that the world is not revolving around them. They also gain a more acute ability to see themselves from others’ eyes. Other life experiences can result in the same transformation – death of a loved one, fighting a disease, going to war. Some of the best parental advice I got was to smile every time your child walks in the room. You mean everything to that child — you need to forget your own worries and be attentive to the impact you are having on this person. Same thing in management. Coach, boss, leader or whatever, usually you can expect that a parent will have as much or more real understanding and experience with listening and being patient, supportive, fair and firm than non-parents.

  • AT my age I’d rather be a mediocre manager.

  • I agree, being a parent makes you a good manager. Why? Because parenting makes you understand the children’s point of view, you have a good motivation to be productive at work and you learn to protect and care for what you have.