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Three Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Father

There is no greater leadership challenge than parenting. Jim Rohn

Imagine being a father of 9 children, all spaced two to three years apart. Then imagine having to mentor, nurture, and inspire all of them to be the best they can be. Well, parenting is not easy and the thing that is interesting to me is that one can’t possibly nurture, mentor and inspire his/her kids to be the best they can be without having to criticize or correct one, two or (actually many) things the children do. Parents need to give their children negative feedback, correct them and guid them towards the right direction. 

It amazes me to this day how my father never corrected one of us in front of the other. As many as we are, and as easy as it is to do so, he never corrected us or gave us negative feedback publicly. When you care about someone and understand that the purpose of your criticism or the correction is to help the person at fault take the right action, you’ll know that doing it in private is more effective; although, this requires a lot of self control and discipline. When negative feedback is given in private, it will lead to a productive and constructive discussion rather than defensiveness. It shows the person being corrected that you care and that the purpose is not to humiliate, rather to guide. So here goes #leadership lesson #1: praise publicly, correct privately. You will have a better impact on your children, your team and your community.  

Praise publicly, correct privately. When negative feedback and correction is given in private, it will lead to a productive and constructive discussion rather than defensiveness. It shows the person on the receiving end that you care and that the purpose is not to humiliate, rather to guide. 

Sometimes, there would be some important family matters that need to be discussed, and decisions that need to be made. I remember growing up, my father would invite all of us, and I mean all nine children to a discussion. My mom, my dad and everyone else at the table would discuss the matter. My father would call on one person after the other and ask them what they think. Everyone would state their opinion, present their ideas, arguments and thoughts. My father would make it a point to instruct us not to interrupt one another and to allow each and every person to be heard. He made sure that he or my mom as parents do-not dismiss the children’s ideas thinking that we are too young to contribute or that the boys do not dismiss a girl’s idea because she’s a girl or vise versa. My father ensured that everyone at the table had an equal chance to express their opinion and to debate the ideas. So here goes #leadership lesson #2: Speak-up and let others speak-up. If you are at the table, your ideas, opinions and suggestions matter. You have to be fully there and contribute. Say what you think because no one can read your mind. Also, remember that everyone else at the table has ideas, suggestions and opinions that matter and that can benefit the group. Give them the chance to contribute. 

Speak-up and let others speak-up. If you are at the table, your ideas, opinions and suggestions matter. You have to be fully there and contribute. Say what you think because no one can read your mind. Also, remember that everyone at the table has ideas, suggestions and opinions that matter and that can benefit the group. Give them the chance to contribute.

After all of the discussions on the family matter, after a long debate when necessary, my father would make the decision. My father made sure the best idea is selected regardless of who it came from. It can come from the youngest in the family or the oldest, a boy or a girl. Mind you, the age difference between the oldest sibling and the youngest is 21years. The criteria for selecting the best idea or course of action is always based on how valid the points made were, and based on which idea was believed to lead to the desired result. Here goes #leadership lesson #3: practice idea meritocracy, and yield to an idea superior to yours. Separate ideas from the person generating those ideas and yield to the one superior. Judge an idea based on its value not based on WHO it’s coming from. You’ll be surprised by how many great ideas will come from sources you have not expected, and you’ll realize that this openness will lead to more productive discussions and new and better ideas. 

Practice idea meritocracy, and yield to an idea superior to yours. Separate ideas from the person generating those ideas and yield to the one superior. Judge ideas based on their value not based on WHO it’s coming from. You’ll be surprised by how many great ideas will come from sources you have not expected, and you’ll realize that this openness will lead to more productive discussions and new and better ideas. 

These are three of the many leadership lessons I learned from my father. Although he practiced this at home to lead the family, I believe many leaders can benefit from this as they lead teams and organization. Which of the lessons resonated with you? 

Is there anyone you learned leadership lessons from? Tag them below to thank them.

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