Delegating and Parenting: How Leadership Styles Mirror Child Raising Stages

by Jeremy Tang

Sir Richard Branson/Necker Island part 3 > during my 6 days on his island Sir Richard shared an interesting approach: early in his career, he’d immerse himself in a new business but would step back after just three months, letting his leadership team take over. This way, he could focus on broader goals and his family. Branson attributed his delegating tendencies to his dyslexia, but I think it’s more a result of his upbringing and unique insights into parenting.

This got me thinking about the similarities between leading a team and raising a family. Both roles require nurturing growth and encouraging independence through distinct stages:

Stage 1: The Early Years
New ventures and newborns need hands-on care. This is when you’re at the front, guiding them, laying foundational skills, and providing immediate

Stage 2: The Teen Years
As team members or teenagers seek independence, your role shifts. You walk beside them, guiding them and offer advice, but also give them the room to make decisions—and mistakes. Your safety net remains, but it’s less visible.

Stage 3: The Adulthood Stage
Eventually, you step back and let your team or grown-up child take the reins. You stay behind them and offer support as needed, and mostly take pride in their accomplishments.

However, leaders often make the mistake of “over-parenting,” focusing too much on their own strengths. For instance, a parent talented in math might neglect other subjects, while a business leader excellent in sales may overlook other critical areas. Both approaches can stunt growth.

The issue extends to delegation too. Just as overprotective parents can hinder their children’s development, leaders who don’t delegate create bottlenecks that slow organizational growth.

In conclusion, whether you’re a parent or a leader, it’s crucial to be aware of how your strengths are applied. Knowing when to step back can foster a well-rounded individual or a successful business.

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