I was reading a post the other day on the blog of Tony Dungy. The article talked about the powerful impact of a father on children and specifically infants. Infants with engaged fathers tend to show more curiosity and smile more. A study by Children’s Hospital Boston even showed that infants even show different signs of anticipation when they are approached by their mom or dad. Apparently even infants know that dads love to play.
The impact of a dad on a family is huge. (This in no way diminishes the vastly important role of mom!) A dad can set the tone of how young children view authority. How they communicate. How engaged they are with the world. A father, when fully engaged and intentional in his efforts, has the power to create a culture in his home that can carry generations of family into joy, success and fulfillment. When we do this thing right we can provide an environment where everyone can reach the maximum of their potential and love getting there together.
Man! What an amazing and daunting thought!
The question is: As an engaged and intentional leader or team member can we have an impact similar to the impact of a dad on our families?
Here are 5 ways we can take action:
- Own the awesome and the weight. As a dad, it seems to happen naturally. Holding that baby you feel the weight and at the same time the immense joy of the responsibility. If you are the leader of the team, think about how awesome it is that people choose to work for you. Yes, times may be tough in the job economy for many but people always have choices. And whether you are the leader or the lowest end of the totem pole, it is your responsibility to enrich the team members and the results of that team. Otherwise, why are you on the team in the first place?
- Choose a culture. In the family, culture may seem out of place. Family rhythm, personality or whatever you call it – if you don’t know what kind of team you want what you’ll get is a mess. The same goes for the workplace. There is no hard right or wrong here. Formal, informal, fun, strict, bring your dog or wear a suit and tie. Each can have pros and cons. The question is, do you know where you want to land with your team? Studies show that people want clarity on the expectations you have of them. We tend to think of this as what they are supposed to accomplish, but I think knowing how they are supposed to interact is equally important. (Just much more difficult to define!)
- Have a plan. It’s a comforting thing for the family when they know dad has a plan. It may not always go exactly as intended, but knowing that someone is being intentional about any given situation lets the family be a bit more relaxed. In the office, if you lead the team, you should have two plans. A plan of attack (to accomplish the goals) and a plan to build (help the people on the team be better because they were on your team).
- Talk about non-work things. Dad, you don’t just talk about the business of family with kids do you? “What do we need to all do this week to make sure our family is running a tight ship?” No! Well, at work if you don’t care about what’s going on in the lives of the people on your team, you don’t understand leadership. Enough said.
- Never die or good-bye? As a leader in your home, dad, don’t you try to help your kids know when the situation calls for them to work harder and when they should just let it go? Part of the art of being a leader is knowing when a team member or project you’re working on needs some loving attention and when they need to be cut free. This should always be done in love and with the good of the person and overall team in mind. To me, the question is what is going to provide the best overall benefit to both the team and the person – grow or free them?