My father was the type of boss everyone loves to have. In his heyday, he worked as Vice President of Purchasing and Procurement for large food corporations. As I understand it, the folks who worked under him were commodities buyers. My father was of the position that his company paid the people who worked for them a good salary to do what they did. They were hand-picked, and would not have been hired if they did not know how to do their jobs. Thus, he articulated a standard, and he let them work. He gave them enough space to do their jobs. He did not micromanage. Were mistakes made? Sure. But as Dad likes to point out, mistakes are part of the learning process. When his folks asked him for help, he was more than happy to lend a hand. And on top of that, he kept a small portion of the direct work himself. They need to know that the boss is keeping up with the industry and the trends, Dad would tell me. They need to know you can relate to what they are doing -- do as I do, and not just as I say.
The way my father managed his employees was not dissimilar from how he treated me when I was growing up. Expectations were brightly articulated. Empty threats did not exist in my household. For example, on a family trip to the Bronx Zoo, Dad told me and my sister that if we argued with each other in the car, he would turn around and take us home. We made it all the way to the parking lot of the zoo, before I exclaimed, "She's touching me! She's touching me!" Two hours after we had set out, in the parking lot of the zoo, Dad turned the car around and took us home. We learned at a young age that when he said something was unacceptable, he meant it.
At the same time, my parents once told me that kids reach a certain age where you have to trust that you raised them well enough, and let them make their own mistakes. As a teenager, I was never grounded. My parents were savvy enough to know that if I really wanted to go out, I'd find a way to sneak out. They granted me my independence when it was appropriate, and stood back to watch as I muddled my way through my later teen years and early adulthood, making all sorts of foolish mistakes. They pointed and laughed at these mistakes, too.
Chris did not have it so lucky. His father was also in upper management. An extremely Type A sort of fellow, Chris's dad kept a keen eye on everything that was going on. Unfortunately, he ended up micromanaging his children the way he micromanaged his workers. He would lament that Chris was not learning responsibility, but would forbid him to get a car. He dictated those decisions that should have been left to Chris. And worse, he never let Chris fail. Chris began drinking alcoholically at 17. When he crashed his car after a night of drinking, he was "punished" with a brand new car. After Chris was kicked out of his first college for drug use and told his folks that he wanted to get a job and move out, they told him no. (I've often argued that if Chris had really wanted to move out, he would have anyway.)
Because Chris's father managed Chris's life to the extent that he did, he never let Chris fail. I do not blame Chris's dad for Chris's alcoholism, drug addiction, or related paralysis. Chris made his own decisions and is left to live with them now. But it occurs to me that if Chris's father had been a different sort of boss, Chris would have ended up with a different sort of upbringing.
After my brief analysis of these starkly different management styles, I am left with the notion that one can tell a lot about a person's parenting by looking at that person's management style.