Marketing Eye

Why a tiger mom isn't going to work in the office

The once applauded "Tiger Mom" has taken a fall from grace in the past few years, receiving criticism from psychologists around the world.

It's a parenting style that is all too familiar for anyone over the age of 40 years, and still exists in some countries that continue to support this method of parenting.

For those who are not familiar, the Tiger Mom has come under scrutiny and criticism, due to her stricter parenting styles and the authoritative voice of the parent. It promotes conformity over creativity and the child does as they are told.

If the Tiger Mom is wrong, then the child is doomed to thinking in only one, incorrect way.

Yesterday, after reviewing some raw footage from a video shoot that I was on, our in-house journalist Eliza, a native Singaporean, commented that if I had a child, I would be a Tiger Mom.

"Really?" I remarked. But after some thought, I could see where she was coming from. Sure, no parent has strictly one style as everyone has their own individual influence over their parenting styles, but there is certainly some likeness.

Take my dog for example; she doesn't step a foot wrong. There is no barking, misbehaving, chewing of shoes or jumping on children. She is fairly perfect in public, so much so, that she even plays dead in a bag to sneak into places that she would not normally be able to frequent, like hotels and certain eateries. When her special bag is brought out, she jumps straight into it without hesitation, knowing exactly what is about to happen. She also taps my leg with a paw if she would like to go outside to do her "business" and if I don't respond, only then does she bark at me to drop everything, because it is time to go.

My perfect angel did not come by accident. When I first picked her up at 12 weeks old, she did all the things that little pups do including peeing in the wrong places, and at 14 weeks, chewing a $1,100 pair of Giorgio Armani shoes.  On this occasion, I knew that this loose parenting style that I had taken up almost immediately, had to stop. I picked her up, showed her the shoe, looked her in the eye and said: "I cannot keep you if you chew my shoes." She has never done this ever again. I believe it was the tone in my voice that told her that this is not to be done.

While I have this picture perfect pooch, there is no doubt, it comes at a cost to her. Her behaviour in public is so good, that people think that she is a mellow dog - but in fact, she has lots of personality and knows that only at home can she run around our apartment, jump up on furniture, pick toys up and throw them in the air and in general, be her true self.

This brings me to: Am I a Tiger Mom in the workforce and is there a place for this? 

A Tiger Mom in the workforce is someone who largely believes it’s "their way or the highway". As displayed on Celebrity Apprentice the other night, both Roxy Jacenko and Prue Sweeney are Tiger Moms in the workplace. Their communications skills were not just authoraiive but also they were completely one-sided and with no room for discussion. They individually believed that only they knew what was the right way to do something. Had they inspired their team and were leaders, they would have actually asked everyone for their contribution and as a team worked out the best way forward.

I thought that their event was terrible and an embarrassment to the PR industry. They had 24 hours, which is more than enough time to put it together and really had no consideration for others including those who worked for free on their events.

In this instance, a Tiger Mom has no role in the workplace.

But there are some places that it works and results speak for themselves - like McDonald's. Without someone originally saying that this is the way to do things, would customers have had the McDonald's experience? There are better burgers on the market, but McDonald's used a formula whereby staff could not deviate from the training, processes and systems installed – and they became a billion dollar business.

For me, in marketing consulting, there is no place for a Tiger Mom. If I do display some of these traits, they need to change. Putting together processes, systems and giving your team the right training are paramount to quality control and getting the right outcome – but other than that, it’s about empowering your team to use their creativity and skills to ensure successful outcomes in the workplace. Becoming a servant leader, as turnaround expert Daryl Wright from Bond Street 180 says, is the only way to empower your team to greatness.

That means ensuring that: 
  • You don’t sit over your team
  • There is no fear in the team
  • You inspire your team
  • If something goes wrong, take them into a room and ask them to discuss it with you without pointing fingers at them
  • Ensure that you give your team all the tools to be successful
  • If a mistake is made, add the solution to your company processes
  • Ensure that your team benefit from being directed and taught
  • Empower your team to look at things differently
Marketing Eye is Australia’s leading small business marketing firm with offices nationally and internationally. We help businesses that are in high-growth phase accelerate growth potential through delivering a structured, strategic marketing approached to all marketing and communications activities. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin for updates on the latest in marketing techniques.



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comment ( 1 )
  • Maria Alda Prawitera
    Maria Alda Prawitera
    15 May 2013

    I've never heard of the Tiger Mum before! Great post and tips, thanks for sharing! :)

    Reply