We frequently ask our program participants, audiences, and research participants who influenced their leadership? Our follow up question is how does that influence show up in the leader you are today?
As you can imagine many leaders share that one or both of their parents, or perhaps even their grandparents, are among the persons who most influenced the leader they are or aspire to be. This is certainly the case for me. While the influence of both parents shows up in my leadership, in light of Father’s Day, I find myself reflecting on my dad.
I remember several lessons but none greater than – “If you have to watch them work, you have failed them.”
I remember one family vacation, while traveling 100s of miles from home, my father got a message from a member of his leadership team. This was in the days before cell phones and instant messaging. It seems that earlier that day, there had been a major incident back at work. Several employees were involved. The police had been called. The press had shown up at the office.
My mother told us to start packing. It looked like we would have to head home that night so Dad could be back by morning. My father however said – No, I think we will be OK. Let me make a call.
After listening to his team member speak for a few minutes my father asked: What is the situation now? Is there anything else you want to do tonight? What do you plan to do tomorrow? Do you need anything from me?
As he hung up I asked, Are we going home? Do you have to go back to work and fix things?
His reply has stayed with me. We can continue on vacation. I have a good team. They know what to do. They will keep me informed but they will also resolve this matter without my interference. I have learned, he said, if you have to watch your employees work – if you have to always be present as they work – you have failed them and your company.”
I learned that day that I did not have to be a hero leader – someone who solved all the problems – someone who had all the answers. I could be a leader who developed other leaders so that they too could solve the big problems and they too could have answers.
Share with us how your father influenced your leadership.