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Leadership Lessons Learned from Dad

Some great experiences with my Dad - New Daddy Love, picking tomatoes from the garden, celebrating a big catch, 8th grade graduation, a visit when I was living out East and center picture from Father's Day 2019.

Each June I get to celebrate my Dad a couple of times; At Father’s Day and for his birthday. Because of this, I spend time reminiscing about my experiences with my Dad and go down memory lane quite a bit. The things I admire most about my Dad are also what the best leaders do. Fathers in general are in a position of natural leadership as they have influence over their children. Just as leaders, that influence can be used in positive or negative ways. My personal experience has been positive influence and my Dad has been a great leadership example in the lessons I’ve learned from him. Here are a few of those lessons.

1. Know What You Stand For

First and foremost, my Dad has been constant in who he is and what he believes. Knowing what you stand for is important to lead in a confident and steady manner. Clarity around your personal values is essential to lead with good character and earn the trust of those that you lead. No one wants a wishy, washy indecisive leader. If you want to gain the respect and have influence, know what you stand for and have the guts to stand your ground.

2. Have Hobbies

As many leaders climb up, hobbies outside the role become fewer as the leadership responsibilities increase and sometimes expand into personal time. My Dad has actively pursued hobbies his entire life. His love for the outdoors and outdoor sports is inspirational and a reminder that when we have hobbies, work is less all-consuming. Everyone has their own version of balance, and when you find it, you are more at ease. As a leader you must figure out what you will do to maintain balance for yourself so that you can be your best self for you and all those around you. Having a hobby, something that brings you joy outside of work is key to achieve some balance – go find your hobby!

3. Serve Your People

My Dad has worked to provide for our family and serves us through his devotion to creating a good environment. Service, whether it’s as a father or as a leader within an organization, is seeking to understand what your people need and then working to provide it. What’s the environment you can create to help your people thrive? In my father’s retirement his passion for maintaining their property has been a way to serve. He has created an environment where amazing memories are made at family reunions, cookouts & holiday celebrations such as the upcoming 4th of July. His service to my maternal grandmother that resides on the property is simply beautiful. It’s the little things such as blowing off the patio before a Sunday gathering and keeping a nice lawn that can bring joy for others. What are the little things you do to serve those you lead? Have you identified what your people need?

4. Possibilities Have No Limits

I’ve been blessed with a dad who never put a cap on a dream or a wish. No words of doubt have been uttered regarding my abilities to achieve what I wanted. This type of support is what all leaders need to bring to the table. A belief that the impossible is possible and that possibilities have no limits. Leaders can squash an idea, but they can also create a safe space to explore the possibilities. Are you a squasher or possibilitarian? I hope you strive to create those safe spaces where your people can imagine the possibilities and that you lead the effort as a “possibilitarian”!

If we look, we will learn about leadership from everyone around us. We learn what to do and what not to do. If you influence someone, you’re their leader – as a parent or within an organization. How are you using your influence? What lessons have you learned? Most importantly, how have you let those lessons improve who you are as a leader? As we begin the second half – consider the leadership lessons from this year and take some action to become the best leader you can become.

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