Are good Fathers also good Leaders?
I hope those of you who are fathers had as great a Father’s Day as I did. I was blessed to spend most of the day with my family, my two sons and my wife, and we didn’t have too much on the agenda so it was a good time to reminisce and look at old pictures and just enjoy one another’s company. It is too rare that we have these kinds of days anymore. Looking at some of the pictures we had brought back some rich and fun memories from days gone by. Time flies when you are having fun, especially when you are a father.
Being a good Father involves some specific skills, some of which I don’t exhibit as well as I should. This post is not talking about me as a father, but it is more a general synopsis of skills I have seen other fathers use and how those skills can translate to leadership at any level. I’ll try to give some insight and context as we go along the path of this post.
Being a Father can be one of the most rewarding, and also the most trying, experiences you will ever have in your life. As I sometimes say, being a Father will give you the “highest highs” and the “lowest lows” you will ever experience. I can honestly say the sum total has been well worth the investment and the experience.
Here are a few of the items that I have seen others exhibit to be good, effective Fathers:
- Fathers need to invest time in their children. Being a biological parent is only the beginning. The real investment comes afterward as your children grow and it does not ever stop. There are stages and changes along the way, but a good father is always present in some way with his children. I spent time with our sons as their coach in sports and also through Scouting. We enjoyed many rich and trying times while doing this and I can say that I ended up being a father to other young men through some of these experiences. The benefit in that was rewarding because no matter how much time I invested I have found that the reward was always greater than the investment.
- Fathers need to lay down guidelines and provide feedback and discipline when the guidelines are broken. Too many people think the word love is only about being nice, friendly or congenial. Some of the best love I have received or given has been “tough love” and I believe my sons would also agree with this now. They may have disagreed along the way, but the long term gain has far outweighed the short term discomfort of defining and holding to the boundaries of life.
- Fathers need to lead by example. Too often I see people say one thing and do another. Good Fathers need to walk the talk. If you tell your kids that drinking is dangerous, then don’t drink or do drink responsibly. If you tell your children that exercise is important then you too should get out and sweat and eat responsibly. If you want your children to treat their spouse or dates responsibly, then do the same with your spouse. Kids are smart. They see through hypocrisy quickly.
- Fathers need to encourage and support their children. This can sometimes be overdone, especially by “helicopter parents” who never let the cord be broken. On the flip side I try to encourage and support our children in their pursuits and try hard to stay out of the way when they can handle things on their own. Parents don’t let their children fail enough. I am not talking about dangerous or serious failure, just everyday frustrations that they can live by. Every time you do something for your children that they could handle for themselves you are robbing them of a developmental opportunity.
We have hit a few of the high spots for parenting, especially being a father. Do these same items apply to being a leader?
- Investing time
- Laying down guidelines-Providing feedback
- Lead by example
- Encourage and support
In my book these items are just a few of the core principles that leaders of all shapes and sizes need to exhibit.
Good fathers are good leaders. If you follow just the four guidelines I have laid out today you will become a better leader in other walks of your life.
Be a good father and enjoy the journey. You’ll be glad you did!