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A Father's Day Reflection on Leadership

Father’s Day is a time to show how much we appreciate our dads. This weekend, I’m thinking about a few ways that my father demonstrated good leadership. My dad showed me that there is a time to direct activities and a time to trust others to find their own ways. Sometimes, Dad gave me specific directions to accomplish a task – other times, he let me figure things out on my own. Good leaders must be willing to make difficult decisions quickly, when necessary. As a leader, you must be decisive when difficult decisions must be made quickly, or a mistake is likely to be catastrophic. Most of the time, Dad let me find my own way. Sometimes it worked out. Other times … not so much. But he was always there to help me make things right and make sure I learned the lessons I needed to learn. Good leaders know that, sometimes, it’s OK to fail – as long as you learn from it. Good leaders are there to offer counsel when you fail to make sure that you come out stronger on the other side. Dad knew when I needed an encouraging word, or when I needed some redirection. Ideally, your team members are emotionally and mentally committed to your company. Good leaders can recognize when someone is at risk of failure due to stress or challenges. Whether it’s work-related or personal, a kind word of encouragement demonstrates your genuine interest in the well-being of an employee – and can even make the difference between success and failure. Good leaders build genuine relationships and spend time with their teams to provide the best support. There are also times when leaders must coach individuals. Sharing both positive and negative feedback along with guidance to grow professionally is powerful. Weak managers don’t like having tough conversations, so they don’t. Great leaders take advantage of every opportunity to make someone better and, when done correctly, the receiver of the feedback will appreciate that someone is interested in their growth. People want to grow and value learning from someone who genuinely cares about their success and is willing to take the time to spend with them. I always knew I could trust my father. He never lied to me, and I knew he would keep my confidence. Team members need to trust their boss. Without trust, there is no confidence in leadership. The team must believe what a leader says or they won’t be committed to the effort. Lack of trust translates to chaos and anarchy. Quality falls, service wanes, and companies do not enjoy success. Employees won’t follow someone they don’t trust. Trust is not optional – it is table stakes for a leader. These are just a few of the leadership lessons I learned from my father. This Father’s Day, I’ll remember the lessons my father taught me about how to work well and be a good example for leaders, and the others in my life. I’ll be able to pass along his lessons to others because of the time he took to teach me. Thanks, Dad!

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