Fathers Need To Be Leaders Too

I was raised by a single mother who worked as many jobs as she had to in order to put food on the table.  I met my father a few times when I was a child, but I certainly never knew him nor did he know a whole heck of lot about me.  At some point when I was in High School my mother carefully let me know that he had died of cancer.  I vividly remember thinking I should probably feel some emotion about that, but I did not.  Father’s Day was never a real big holiday in my house.

I can’t sit here and tell you that I swore I would be a better father than my father was.  I never gave it much thought.  Ever since my son was born in 2000, I have never had more of a desire to spend time with anyone than I do to spend time with him.  I don’t spend time with him out of a sense of obligation or commitment; I spend time with him because I genuinely enjoy his company.  I am pretty sure that is how it is supposed to work.

There are a great many similarities to how I lead my employees and how I raise my son.  Since this is Father’s Day, I decided to ponder a few of them:

  1. Lead by example:  I was certainly familiar with this concept before my son was born, but having kids will drive this concept home for you.  I can see every good and bad trait that I have in my son.  It has made me very aware of my actions and the impacts that they have on others.  He is a tangible reminder to me every day that other people watch my actions and take their cues from me.   It is the ultimate sign of respect and it should not be taken lightly.  Fathers need to set an example that they want their children to follow.
  2. Communication is everything:  When employees are frustrated and ultimately quit a job, I would say more times than not it comes down to communication.  Their boss did not communicate enough with them, or did not communicate the correct things.  Open communication is the key to leading people, marriage, and raising children.  I do not think there is a demographic that is harder to communicate with than teenage boys.  It just takes patience.  You have to keep providing them opportunities to talk.  Most weekends I will spend every waking moment with my son.  Some days we hardly talk and other days he just jabbers on about whatever is on his mind.  There is no rhyme or reason to it.  I just have to keep trying and providing him opportunities to talk and not take it personally if he does not feel like talking.
  3. Let them make mistakes:  I try not to make lot of decisions for my son at this point in his life.  I give him guidance and I help him use logic to weigh decisions, but wherever possible I let him make his own decisions.  Sometimes I know he is making the wrong decision, but if it is not going to cause great bodily harm to him or anyone else then I let him make the decision anyway.  I can honestly say that he is one of the most logical people I know and I would like to believe that I am at least partially responsible for that.  The most important decisions he makes in his life, he will likely do on his own.  It is extremely important that we give our kids the tools to make decisions, but then let them make their own mistakes.  This technique works pretty well with employees too.

I don’t claim to be the world’s greatest manager or father for that matter.  I have certainly made a few mistakes own along the way, but when I look back over my career I can take a lot of pride in all of the managers I have helped to develop along the way.  Nothing I have accomplished professionally will ever compare to the pride I feel as a parent.  There is no question in my mind that being a dad is the greatest job I will ever have.

To all of the other Fathers out there, Happy Father’s Day!