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5 Foundational Leadership Lessons I Learned from my Dad

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Father’s Day always provides a great opportunity to reflect on the kind of Father you had growing up and of course the kind of Father you would like to be yourself. In thinking about my Dad this weekend there were so many lessons that he taught me that came to mind, and fortunately, many things I still have to learn from my Dad. And while every father and man has their deficiencies to be sure, my dad has been an accelerant in my life and leadership by consistently allowing me to stand on his shoulders. Dad, I love you, and I’m so grateful that you’re in my life! So here are a handful of leadership principles that I learned from my Dad.

1. Great Leaders make themselves Available to the Right People

Even though he worked for the Department of Defense with the Joint Chiefs, the Pentagon etc. etc. he wasn’t an absentee father. Dad was always there. Even if it meant getting up at 4:00am to commute into D.C. to get to work early so he could be home in the evenings. He was at the soccer games, the wrestling matches, and we always sat down for a family dinner. Dad proved his love for us with his presence.

2. Great Leaders know that Failure doesn’t have to be Final

When my girlfriend and I made some poor choices in High School instead of blowing up and sacrificing me to Jesus, he took me in his room opened up the Bible and we walked through the story of David and Bathsheba. He spoke hope into me by sharing with me that God still called King David a man after his own heart, and that God wasn’t done with me either.

3. Great Leaders Strategically Target Their Audience

Some of the most memorable moments I have of my father are of fishing trips that we took together. It was there that I learned that a leader needs to learn to read the subtle nuances of the environment he is in, understand his audience, and use the right method, tools, and techniques to get the desired results.

4. Great Leaders Admit Their Mistakes

In the early years of our marriage, like many couples, Lisa and I really struggled and had to face down some pretty hurtful issues in our lives and relationship. In that process we had a conversation with my Mom and Dad where we told them about our struggles and how some of it was rooted in some behaviors I learned growing up in our home. With tears in his eyes he looked at my wife and me and apologized to us both. How many guys ever get that kind of gift from their father?

5. Great Leaders Empower people by Believing in them

My dad isn’t a perfect man, who is? But one thing I have never once questioned about my father is if he believed in me or not. I always knew, and know today that he is proud of me. That kind of belief breaths a safety and security into people that frees them up to risk and attempt great things. It’s amazing to have someone in your corner cheering you on in life.


Posted in Family, Leadership, Testimonial

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