In conjunction with Father’s Day, and myself being a Father, I would like to share on the leadership role of a Father. I will be drawing on an article by James B. Stenson, “Unity of Life”1 which has wonderful comparisons, or shall I say, expectations of a man in a leadership role as a Father Leader for those of us that are married, or in a similar capacity as an Uncle, Foster Father, Godfather, etc.
Stenson clearly states an important concept,and that is, I quote, “You are one person, not two. You are the same man, both on the job with your colleagues and at home with your family and friends. You cannot live two lives; you must be the same person in both spheres of responsible operation.” In fact, this concept is not new, nor rocket science. But in recent times, people these days tend to compartmentalise their lives, where their “professional lives” are separate from their “personal lives.”
He goes on to say, “Men who are not aligned in these 2 key areas are known as ‘Producers at work’ but ‘Consumers at home.’ On the job, they dedicate their powers to serious, responsible activity;but at home, they rest passively in pleasurable recreation. In the workplace, their character strengths operate at all=out exertion; everyone sees and respects their sound judgement, sense of responsibility, tough-minded perseverance, and self-control. But at home, their inner strengths rest idle, set aside (so to speak) for the day, and thereby hidden from their children’s eyes.”
Successful parenting, especially fathers, do not live like this. They are equally effective and participative in both their roles at home and at work. Their character strengths are demonstrated in both environments of home and the office. It is a fact that a man’s devotion to his family gives meaning and purpose to his stress-filled professional, and it carries him to strive.
The nugget I want to stress is that a successful father exercises leadership character and qualities at home as much as on the job, if not more, for the sake of his children who will carry on his legacies.
Leadership On The Job
What are common leadership traits found among successful entrepreneurs and professionals? Think about the best superiors you have ever worked with, or met in your line of work. What are the qualities they carry that inspire you to be a better leader?
- Visionary: A leader has a clear long-term vision. He is able to communicate that vision and its goals clearly to his team members, and is the driving force to achieve the set goals in an effective manner.
- Teamwork: A leader who exhibits teamwork by recognising that each member of his team has certain strengths that can be brought to the table to achieve the collective endeavours of the company. Where there may be lack, he will look for ways to develop them to be more effective/productive.
- Priorities & Resources: An effective leader sets priorities, and maximises resources. These two traits help keep the company’s objectives and goals focused, and reduces unnecessary distractions.
- Responsible: He is a man of integrity, and take personal responsibility. He is where the buck stops, and he bites the bullet, accepting the consequences of his decisions, particularly in times of failure or mistakes. He adopts a teachable attitude in order to turn an experience in failure into one of learning.
- Recognition: A good leader recognises good efforts, and rewards accordingly. He affirms and encourages his people, to bring out the best of them despite their shortcomings. In addition, he finds ways to develop them to achieve their potential.
- Good listening skills are an essential trait of a good leader, as he actively listens by understanding their needs, challenges, and perhaps to identify if there is a deeper underlying problem, and how he can help to overcome them.
- Development: A good leader is not afraid of developing his people to be better than himself because he knows that by caring for his team, his team will respect him and the organisation they work for.
If you have had the experience to work for such (a) leader(s), then you are probably one of the few who jump out of bed each day, motivated to go to work!
Reflecting on the above traits, these are exactly the same qualities children strive for from their parents, especially fathers, because it is the father’s role to give a child his/her identity in life. We know that men and women are wired differently, and so it is no surprise then, that as a man, there are qualities and traits on a father can teach and instil in his children, likewise a woman also has specific qualities only a mother can instil.
Leadership At Home
Now, let’s look at how these same traits are translated in the home:
- Long-term Vision: A father’s long-term vision is to see his children building their character to be upstanding, useful citizens of society. As a father who loves his children, he needs to have the courage and boldness to correct his children’s faults without fear of being “temporarily unpopular” because the long-term benefits of teaching good moral conduct and principles of life will outweigh the short-term bruised egos, or even resentment. He combines correction and discipline with affectionate forgiveness, understanding, and encouragement. He is neither weak nor harsh but rather affectionately assertive. He loves his children too much to let them grow up with their faults uncorrected. Of course, the difference from the workplace would be the manner in which he delivers his vision, and that would be with fatherly love.
- Teamwork: A father is first of all, a husband to his wife. As a team, they must endeavour to present a united front to the children, draw on each other’s strengths to complement each others weaknesses as to support one another in their roles as parents. A good marriage is like an umbrella that provides shade and shelter in all kinds of weather conditions. A good marriage can shelter any and every kind of storm for the family, particularly for the children. Thus, raising them up to be confident, secured and loved individuals.
- Priorities and Resources: Any parent knows how time flies. It would seem, a newborn baby can suddenly turn into an identity-in-crisis teenager, from a charming adolescent to a responsible young adult excited to be embarking on his/her life. So, a father must prioritise the needs of his children versus his own. No matter how tired he may be, he must shrug the temptation of taking the easy way out by letting the television entertain or teach his children. Instead, he intentionally spends as much quality and quantity time doing the things his children like to do, or exposing them to new experiences in order to build rapport and bonds of love. Because he knows his time is limited, and he has to instil qualities of integrity, responsibility, family honour, trust, honesty, and a desire to strive for excellence.
- Responsible: A responsible father will not only teach good moral values, but also model those values. Instilling responsibility in our children is paramount because any kind of talent and gifting a child may have will not blossom sustainably without acts of responsible nurturing.
- Recognition: A loving father will give due recognition and encouragement to his children when they exhibit the desired qualities and principles taught. He will also take time to rectify undesired behaviours by giving “just discipline” as children need to know and understand boundaries. Boundaries work out of mutual respect and honour because of the relationships that exist out of love and responsibility.
- Good listening skills: a father goes the extra mile to get to know his children by listening to them, understanding and figuring what makes them tick. As Asians, this is probably one of the most difficult areas, because father are deemed to know much more or should know it all. People enjoy getting attention (particularly adults) and when fathers listen to their children, he is telling them they are important to him and he values their attempts to communicate, thus building a deeper relationship.
- Development: A father’s lasting legacy is how he develops his children by identifying their gifting and talents. he encourages them to pursue their dreams with hard work, and excellence. He endeavours to provide for his family’s needs to the best of his ability. There will be sacrifices and regardless of the short term responses, the long term fruits would be to see the children rise to the occasion, fulfilling their individual dreams, goals and passion. A father needs to knows when to guide and leads, but he also knows when to release his children, confident that his efforts as loving father will not be in vain.
As a Father Leader, we are living in turbulent times, whatever your faith and beliefs are. According to the Business Insider2, the divorce rate in the US is 53%, Spain, Portugal and Hungary record 60%, while Belgium a staggering 73%. Based on a compilation of data by Wilkinson & Finkbeiner Family Law Attorneys3, half of the children in the US will witness their parents obtain a divorce
What does that say for the future of our children? Who will lead them? Who will teach them? How will they learn about values such as enduring love, trust, loyalty, integrity and commitment when the very foundation they were born into cannot withstand the pressures of the world?
I challenge and encourage you, whether you are a father or not. You can contribute to stop this vicious cycle when you embrace leadership skills of excellence in the workplace and especially at home, and be part of a generation that endeavours to raise our children to rise to the occasion!
1 James B. Stenson, Educational Consultant: ParentLeadership.com
2 Business Insider: Divorce Rates Around The World, Pamela Engel. 25th May 2014