In the 1960s, developmental and clinical psychologist Diana Baumrind noticed something simple and outwardly obvious. In her research, Baumrind wasn't looking in the business sector. She wasn't directly considering leaders or leadership either. She was studying parenting. Yet her observations offer the very insight organizations and their leaders need to thrive in today's turbulent times.

What Baumrind noticed was that parenting styles differed along a continuum, one defined by the extremes of responsiveness and demandingness, and how parents mixed the two, or didn't. Parenting, she concluded, tended to fall into three types. At one extreme, characterized by extreme demandingness, was what she called the authoritarian parent --  the parent who was rigid, harsh, and one-directional in their relationship with their child, all or nearly all of the time. At the other extreme was the disproportionately responsiveness or what she called permissive parent -- the one that over-responds, indulges, and even spoils their children, and in the process, sets up a very different but equally dependent relationship as the authoritarian parent, equally offering little that would allow the child to grow.

There was a third type, which Baumrind called the authoritative parent. This parent type perpetually sought a balance of high demand and high response, plus something more and more important: to let the child grow into increasing ability and autonomy, and to allow the parent-child relationship to do the same. At a distance, and in a conversation about parenting types and which type is more relevant, realistic, and fosters greater collective resilience, the answer seems obvious. (It's this third type, the authoritative parent.) Yet, Baumrind found that for most parents it was not. Critically, the very same factors characterize good leadership and poor leadership in uncertain times, and those factors are just as often overlooked or ignored by senior leaders. It's time to change that.

Within her conclusions, Baumrind pointed out something even more powerful and overlooked. In the end, the best parents are teachers. So are the best leaders. Their job isn't to establish a fixed relationship in which one orders or coddles, and the other becomes dependent. A teacher's role is fluid. It is a constant search for balance. It is also contextual, and in that sense, perpetually impermanent. It serves a purpose, and then evolves to the next. If it doesn't, it atrophies (at best), or devolves into dysfunction. Parenting, teaching, and leading all are aimed at enabling -- enabling the child, student, or employee to be capable of doing for themselves, so that they don't just "do" or follow, but are empowered to do more, do better, and do both increasingly on their own. Think about that.

Once upon a time, we touted a myth about leaders: that there could be a heroic version where one person knew, ideated, and directed it all. It was never really true, yet this version of leadership is an absolute falsehood in a complex, ever-changing, and uncertain world. The task of leading is simply too big. The pace of change simply too large. It's precisely why leaders ought to be teaching and cultivating others to lead.

Very few leaders really want to do it all. And very few employees want to trudge through their work never feeling a sense of mastery or impact -- not to mention a sense of autonomy and creative contribution. That's why Baumrind's seemingly simple insight is so powerful. Her three types of parents offer leaders both a litmus test and a guide to how they are leading in this moment, and how they can lead more effectively in the next. Her emphasis on teaching as the central role isn't just key for senior leaders, it's fundamental for anyone taking the lead. Her types are less a model and more a lens for leaders to assess just how much they are allowing leadership to spread out to the entirety of the organization, and how much they are letting others step forward and take part in the collective and cultural act that is effective leadership.

Parents, Baumrind found, slip into the extremes of authoritarian or permissive parent in part because balancing demandingness and responsiveness is ongoing and hard. Leading is hard, too. Leadership, in the collective and cultural sense, is challenging, ever-evolving, and never-done work. As tough as those truths sound, leaders and organizations simply can't keep fooling themselves that being one extreme of the other -- too authoritarian or too permissive -- offers a way out or a way forward in this volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous work environment. This is our new abnormal, and it's time we learned, and taught, the lessons of how we can make the environment, and leadership, work to our advantage.