Love + Limits

“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice.” Brené Brown

When I conduct 360s for my coaching clients, I frequently hear people say, “My boss is a great leader, I love working for them, but I wish they would hold people accountable. Because when they don’t do what they say they’ll do, and there aren’t consequences, it feels bad, discouraging.”

Maybe you’ve had a leader like that; perhaps you’ve been that leader.

How can we do this better? How do we practice holding people accountable?

One morning a few days ago, I was listening to a YouTube video of a family therapist, Lili do Hoyos Anderson, who is also a mother of eight children.

She drops the following truth bombs:
The key to self-worth is self-mastery.
The key to self-mastery is doing things you don’t necessarily want to do.

These keys mean that as parents, we can’t be permissive and just let our children do whatever they want because when we allow that, our kids don’t learn self-mastery and don’t develop self-worth.

The work of the late Diana Baumrind, a pioneering clinical and developmental psychologist, focused on parenting styles and their impact on children. She described the authoritative parenting style as preferable to the authoritarian or permissive styles. 

It’s important to be warm and responsive to our children but also to set limits. Children need to know they are loved, but also, they need to develop self-mastery so they can develop self-worth. Self-mastery requires limitations. Most parents are pretty good at being warm—at least the ones I know. But limits are a lot harder because we want to be liked, especially by our children.

What I am finding is that if I can figure out how to parent better (my children are in their twenties, but I’m still figuring out parenting, nonetheless), be responsive and loving and set limits, then I can also be more effective at work. 

If we want to be better leaders or want to be better parents—whichever one you are working on right now (possibly both), you have a laboratory.

There are opportunities to practice love and opportunities to practice limits. This, in turn, creates the conditions where we can help people mature into their full potential by requiring them to be accountable.

Neither the people at work nor at home will always respond, but as Dr. Anderson points out, “The product of parenting, in the end, isn’t the child, it’s the parent.”

And the corollary is that the product of leadership at work, in the end, isn’t just the people; it’s the leader.

This week’s podcast guests are Brad Feld and Matt Blumberg. It’s a more tactical learning episode in response to a question I often get: What is a board of directors? What is its purpose, and what makes for a good board member? And how do you get value from a board, especially if you are a start-up? As a coach who works with people who work with boards and as an entrepreneur thinking about putting together a board, I found it really useful.

By the way, notice how a good board definitely imposes limits –– but they also love!

As always, thanks for being here!

My best,

P.S. I’ve noticed that several people, such as former podcast guests Brooke Romney and Scott O’Neil, are doing ‘gratitude’ for November, like our notes of appreciation. Even if you do this for only one week, I hope you’ll do it!

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