Gartzia, Leire, "The caring advantage: When and how parenting improves leadership," Journal of Organizational Behavior (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), Jun2024, Vol. 45 Issue 5, p643-662

Leadership research is grounded in one simple principle: leaders care about followers’ attitudes and emotions to achieve outcomes. Yet, how leaders develop these caring skills remains unidentified. The current study addresses parenting as a major, previously unaddressed antecedent of leadership effectiveness that involves experiences of care and emotional support to others (the children) transferred to work. Findings from matched field data of leaders who are parents and their employees confirm this approach and point to a fundamental omission in leadership studies: supportive behaviors that are critical for leaders involve experiences of care inherently developed in parenting roles. Consistent with work–family enrichment principles, leaders’ parental experiences improved employee outcomes by facilitating supportive leadership behaviors, conditional on time spent in parenting (with supportive parenting styles but little time to be with children, the positive transfer from parenting to work was lower). These findings represent a clear contribution to leadership theory and practice and the many missed associations between leadership and family–work enrichment. They also provide novel insights and questions for advancing management theory with critical practical implications for leaders who are parents, calling for urgent designs of firm practices that are sensitive to parenting and other forms of unpaid care work to unleash leaders’ caring potential.