Early this morning (on the day after Father’s Day), I am scouring the pages on the wonderful worldwide web called Facebook and I came across a short video about my friend Nate.
Nate is my neighbor — a man of faith, married with five children. Yes, five children. Nate’s wife, Katie, put together a video of their children, who range in ages from 1 to 15. On the short video, each of the children gave their testimony about why they love their Dad. It was a Father’s Day gift from them to him.
What I heard in those precious five minutes made me clearly see the correlation between being a good parent and a good leader. It’s these timeless principles, which not only bring out the best in a family but can also optimize a work team or build an effective organizational culture.
Nate’s children spoke about how he loved them; how he spent time with them; how he read stories to them; taught them; had fun with them; protected them and provided for them. Each of the children expressed how their Dad loved their Mom. Out of the mouths of these children, I heard the profound principles of effective leadership.
When I consider the best leaders I ever worked for, they were each men or women who clearly loved what they did. These leaders exhibited genuine care for me as their direct report. They worked hard and so I did. I learned from their teaching. I remember the fun we also had — these were people who were joyful and great to be around. I can also recall times when each of the leaders I’ve admired went to bat for us and, in doing so, protected and provided for us. I also never heard them bad-mouth the other parents.
Just as Nate is a man of faith, I also got the sense as I look back, that each of these leaders held themselves to a higher standard than a mere board of directors — they understood the noble, honorable duty of being a leader.
Conversely, I am presently reading a book about the spectacular rise and scandalous fall of Enron. I am only part-way through the book, but I am scratching my head on two recurring questions I have while reading.
The first question I am asking myself is: “How much money is enough?” The reward packages some of these deceptive leaders at Enron were receiving were astronomical and way beyond what one individual would need or use in 20 lifetimes, let alone one. But still, they always seem to have wanted more. It was their greed and selfishness that drove them.
Conversely, I don’t think I have ever heard Nate talk about money, although I am sure it’s a big burden he carries in his commitments to his wife and five dear children. Likewise, when I think of great leaders I’ve known, I never got the sense they were chasing the almighty dollar or sterling pound.
The second question I am asking myself upon reading the Enron story is: “I wonder what their ex-colleagues think of them now?” The book is peppered with stories of cloak-and-dagger interludes and people saying one thing and doing something else. A lack of integrity abounded. It really was dog-eat-dog.
Conversely, when I think about great leaders I’ve worked for, I have good memories of our many interactions. Relating this to the role of a father — I always think one of the best testimonies of our parenting is the memories the children have. I hope I am thought as a father half as well as Nate clearly is.
My conclusion is that being a good leader is identical to being a good parent. It’s not complicated. Be a decent person. Have integrity. Look out for others. Keep learning. Teach others. Be someone worth following. Care about what you do. Have fun. Laugh at yourself. Be humble. Work hard. Don’t gossip about other leaders. Be satisfied with what you have. Don’t chase the mirage of money.
Thanks, Nate, for the leadership lessons I am reminded of, because of how you love and lead your family.
Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia (newleaf-ca.com). The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Signal newspaper. For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected]