Father’s Day prompts me to pause and be thankful for having a wife and children. As I look over memories from the last 14+ years of being a father, I am reminded of some great times spent with my children; from playing games like tag and hide-and-go-seek, to going camping, to watching theater performances, or playing hockey in the driveway. As I reflect on the importance of being a father, I’ve come to realize that fatherhood not only changes one’s life at home but also impacts your leadership style and teaches you five valuable lessons.
- Being a father teaches you to be patient. Our children don’t know as much as we do and are learning how their world works every day. In all honesty, patience is a personal weakness of mine, but I try to improve every day as well. Patience fosters an environment that promotes learning. This applies not only to life at home, but also applies to the environment at work, which is needed for the next point.
- Parents teach their children every day, whether we realize it or not. Our children are sponges that absorb the things they see and hear. They have great memories and want to learn as much as they can. As father’s we need to take the time to intentionally teach our children valuable lessons. Ordinary moments, like looking up at the stars at night and showing your kids the constellations, can be a teaching moment that leaves a lasting impression. Ordinary events at work can also be used as teaching moments. Instead of dreading your next meeting at work, view it as an opportunity to create a teaching moment and see the impact it has on your outlook.
Reacting to Mistakes
- We all learn from our mistakes. Our children are no different. The laws of probability make it more likely that our children will make more mistakes. We can choose how to react the next time our kids spill or break something. My natural inclination is to respond with anger (see patience above), but fatherhood has taught me to pause before I respond. I now realize that the mistake in question can be used to reinforce a lesson and discuss how one could improve. A lesson that will carry with them over time. This not only applies to our children, but with our employees (and bosses) at work. How we react to certain events and bad news forms others’ perception of us and can build or diminish our credibility.
- We are role models to our children. Our children are always watching us and learning. They learn not only from moments when we are at our best, but also include the moments that we are less proud of. None of us are perfect, but our kids not only learn the right things to do from their parents but also learn what not to do from watching us. As Michael Hyatt consistently mentions in his blog, “There’s an old saying about parenting: More is caught than taught.” As fathers, we need to remember that our children will imitate our behavior for good or for bad. Our children will carry some of our behavioral traits into adulthood, just as we carry some of our parents’ behavioral traits (regardless of whether we want to admit it). Our employees at work are always watching their leaders as well. Younger employees see their leaders as successful and will also emulate our behavior to some degree. They too are always watching us and learning.
Focus on Others
- Being a father requires you to focus on the needs of others, especially your family. When fathers come home from a long day at work, we typically don’t come home and rest on the couch. Fathers are needed to help with homework, practice taking slap shots, or even change a lightbulb. Focusing on the needs of others changes our mindset from one of being focused on oneself to that of being focused on others. This also applies to our work environment. Being a servant leader is the highest form of leadership, in my opinion. Effective leaders put others’ needs ahead of their own.
Being a father not only brings us joy and great memories. Fatherhood bears the gifts of teaching us patience, provides us with opportunities to teach our children, reminds us to model appropriate behavior, and provides us with the opportunity serve others. These gifts provide us an opportunity to shape our children into adults. These opportunities don’t only apply at home, but reinforce leadership principles required to shape future generations of leaders at work as well. Enjoy your Father’s Day and remember the impact that you bring as a father and a leader.