More important than my opinion is the value of his example for leadership—mine and yours. My father is a great role model for doing, not just telling, the best way forward. He is a leader through his actions, and that is the most influential type of leader. Here are his strengths that have meant the most to me.
1. Align your actions with your values.
Dad grew up in Detroit, and his dad worked on the line for Chrysler while his mom worked as a nurse. Dad played football at Hillsdale College and then became a pharmaceutical sales rep. He was great at his job, but when promotions came that would have moved us to New Jersey, that was a quick no for him. At that stage in his and our lives, married with my mom’s job, it didn’t fit. His family’s stability, consistent roots and supporting my mom’s career were foremost, and he modeled the power of belief for us.
2. Show up.
He was and is always there for the moments that mattered. For me, it was competitive tennis, and he watched every one of my matches in junior tennis, high school and college.
He shows up for dialogues that matter. He’s a great listener, and doesn’t back down on giving advice. When I would lose a match I thought I should have won, Dad would sit beside me, rub my back and give me just the right amount of love for the situation but wasn’t afraid to nudge me too. If I drowned in the loss too long, he would kick me in the butt and say, “Get over it.” It was always more important to him to say and do what was right than to be liked.
3. Don’t follow the crowd.
When I needed a car as a teenager, my parents bought me a big beat-up station wagon. My friends drove better by far. But my dad knew that heavy clunker would keep me safe driving in Michigan’s ice and snow. So what if it didn’t look great? It got the job done.
When cell phones and car antennas became popular, he responded by getting me a $5 plastic phone, and taped an “antenna” near the back window. When I pulled up to a light, next to a cute boy in a car, I picked up the plastic phone to impress him. That was dad’s sense of humor coming through.
4. Find the right balance.
I honestly think of my dad as a perfect dad. He knew just how much to push, how much to love, how much to work, how much to keep me and my twin brothers scared of him, how much to toughen up. He knew when to be soft, and how to find that challenging place between just enough and too much.
My childhood home has two big hills in the front and back yards. I would mow it with a push mower. He would tell me to do just the back yard, but if I got done and felt pretty good, he would tell me I had it in me to keep going.
And I did, and those times taught me the value of persistence and the satisfaction of extra effort in a job well done.
Dad, I can’t wait to tee it up with you this summer. Keep being you, you are my hero!
Your Game Changer Takeaway
My dad is a great example of discipline and focus. He likes effort, but I learned early and often that he likes results even more.
Now it’s your turn: What leader has shown you the best way forward through his or her actions? How can you be that kind of leader (or parent) today?
The Molly Fletcher Company inspires leaders, teams and organizations to kick-start growth. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working as a sports agent. Her company offers training and coaching programs to help leaders unleash their potential, including: Game Changer Negotiation Training, which teaches business people a framework for successful negotiating; The Energized Leader training, which teaches people how to manage their energy to achieve focus and freedom; and a monthly coaching program, Game Changer Leadership Huddles, to help members recharge their purpose and mindset. Sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter and subscribe to the Game Changers with Molly Fletcher podcast on iTunes.