In honor of Father’s Day on Sunday, our Fun Friday post is about Dad.
Growing up I watched my dad provide for us being a road warrior. He traveled often and it never bothered me. It was part of life. I actually enjoyed the exposure to different places and different cultures. I remember a time when my father had a fairly serious case of insomnia. In spite of that every time he sat down in one of the chairs in the living room he immediately fell asleep. After several months of analysis he finally figured out that seat was the exact size and shape of a Delta Business Class seat.
I am sitting on a plane today on my another trip to meet one of our awesome partners and realized that there is an argument I have become a road warrior as well. This isn’t good or bad but it has given me a new appreciation for the effort that was involved that most people don’t understand. The glamour of travel quickly dims and I am sure it had long since gone dark before I recall him doing it. I wonder what he did without Blogs to write and an iPod to listen to – apparently he was sleeping in the only position that his body allowed.
My father was also a manager for the entire time I remember growing up. I learned a lot from him in that area too. I recently had the opportunity to tour the manufacturing plant that he is currently assigned to improve and perfect by the investment fund that employs him. As we walked the plant a lesson was reinforced for me that hit home. He is a very high executive and could easily be intimidating to the floor workers and managers, yet as he walked the plant it became obvious he knew each person. He talked to “Mike” about his kids and how the games went, he asked “Carlos” to go hiking with him on Saturday and really wanted him to go (I don’t know if Carlos showed up but I think he did). I watched a leader interact with his team and saw the willingness to follow him and help him. The power of quiet leadership was obvious.
We reached part of the line and he showed one of the most impressive improvements that had been made during his tenure. It involved a change in the way electronic components that failed the quality check were rerouted into the system. He quickly pointed to Laura and explained that it was her idea and that he hadn’t thought of that improvement. The need to take any credit was absent. The need to give credit was genuine and absolute.
I think there is much to be gleaned from this experience. The power of not having to be right all the time but leading people and enabling them is truly powerful. The gentleness of caring about people that exist in part of your world in some way is true leadership. I will strive to improve this throughout my career. Lesson for this Father’s Day? Never let a spreadsheet get in the way of talking to employees and colleagues.
What did you learn from your Dad? Were they learned in general observations or direct lessons?