Daddy as a little boyMy dad was the first quintessential leader I encountered in life. He wasn’t perfect – none of us are – but who he was and how he lived his life was anchored to the principles of quintessential leadership.

In the years since Daddy’s death in 1998, I’ve met and or reconnected with many people who knew my dad well and one of the things I’ve consistently heard about him was that he was a good man, a kind man, and a gentle man with an open heart ready to serve and open ears and time ready to listen.

Those things are all consistent with the man I knew and was blessed to be able to call my father.

My dad was a humble man and never sought the limelight in any area of his life. Even though he was extremely well-educated and very knowledgeable about many things (it was my dad and mom both who taught me that education never ends and books are the window into learning and growing in understanding, a gift for which I’ll ever be grateful), my dad never boasted, bragged, or condescended to anyone else about it.

It just wasn’t who he was. He understand that all those things were necessary to earn a living and grow as a person, but character was what mattered most, and that was what he strove to build and to teach his kids all his life.

My dad had all the attributes that define being trustworthy and building trust, which is the foundation of quintessential leadership.

My dad was honest. He stood out, to the people who knew him, and to me, because he was never deceptive and he was not dishonest in his dealings with other people. He strove to tell the truth in every situation, even if he took a hit for it or it cost him to do so. If he made a promise, he kept it. His word was always as good as gold. 

Daddy was a man of integrity. Because he had a good moral and ethical foundation from his parents, and then his aunt, after his parents died, my dad built on that and adhere to that all his life. He always did the right thing, from a moral and ethical standpoint, no matter what the situation. 

My dad was one of the most fair people I have ever known. He treated everyone – and I mean everyone – with kindness, gentleness, and a generosity of spirit that I have seldom encountered (myself included, although these are areas that I continually strive to perfect in my own character) among the human race. It didn’t matter who the person was or where they came from or what they had or had not accomplished, my dad treated everyone with the same graciousness and as equals in every sense of the word.

Daddy showed respect to everyone, even people, who at times did not deserve it or who had mistreated or spitefully used him. His care and concern for everyone who crossed paths with him is one of the legacies that still follows him even now.

My dad always righted any wrongs that he had done. As soon as he realized he had messed up or was wrong about something, he immediately apologized and took action to make amends. He did this with us kids even when we were little and he didn’t have to, which says a lot about the quintessential leader character of my father.

Daddy was always accountable. He always took responsibility for his life in every aspect, including his words and his actions. He never tried to wiggle out of anything he was responsible for, even if it was a bad decision or the cost was high, by pointing the finger at others or blaming something else.

My dad was one of the most consistent people I have ever known and he exemplified this quintessential leader trait in every aspect of his life. He was an even-keel man, even under huge amounts of stress and in the most tense of situations. Daddy was the anchor of our family, for sure, and he was the one who stayed calm when and if the rest of us were having our moments along the way. Being able to always count on this was one the things I loved and appreciated most about my father.

Sincerity defined who and what my dad was. There was absolutely nothing hypocritical about who and what Daddy was. What you saw, no matter when or where, was exactly who he was. There was no pretense about him at all. My father was authentic and genuine, through and through.

Daddy always lived by a higher standard and he set that higher standard as the bar both in his work relationships and in his family relationships. It was not oppressive by any means, but in fact were the core components that build trust and make us trustworthy. I can still  remember him talking with me over the years about this higher standard and how important it was to never let it drop or let it go. And he was right.

My dad – and mom – set boundaries in their own lives, in the work environments in which they led other people, and in our lives as their children of what was acceptable and unacceptable, whether it was actions, words, attitudes, or general behavior. And Daddy and Mama dealt with any breaches of those boundaries immediately and appropriately.

In our family, Mama was the physical enforcer and Daddy was the linguistic enforcer of those boundaries. Although I know now neither of them ever realized it, I always preferred Mama’s method to Daddy’s method, because at the core of who I am Daddy’s method was actually more effective and got through to me at the heart level than Mama’s did.

My mom’s method got me off the hook fast with no thinking about what I’d done and the possible consequences if I kept doing it. My dad’s method, on the other hand, made me stop and consider what I had done to overstep the boundaries, why it was unacceptable, and the long-term consequences if I continued to breach the boundaries.

As a kid, I didn’t appreciate what Daddy was doing (although I did listen, even though I often tried to give him the impression that I wasn’t listening), but I am very thankful that he did it because it stuck and it has served me well along the way.

So on this Father’s Day, I am grateful for the quintessential leader that my dad was and for the lessons of quintessential leadership that he taught me by his example.

I love you, Daddy, and I miss you. See you soon.

 

 

 

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