President, CEO and Dad. Not In This Particular Order.
During my career, I have learned a lot from mentors and bosses who have given me great advice and shaped my development. But being a dad has had a tremendous impact on my leadership skills.
CEO is my public identity and the reason I have this blog, but being Taylor and Trevor’s dad holds more meaning. My kids are in the early stages of adulthood. They are living on their own, wrapping up school, starting careers and entering into life-long relationships. We live in different cities but are very close.
This is my first Father’s Day as a CEO and I am struck by the similarities of parenting and running a company. Here are a few that stand out:
Celebrate Big and Small Successes
With young kids, there are so many moments of development and growth along the way. Celebrating first steps, starting school, losing a tooth – the little wins. The first time they ride a bike, clean their room and set the table are all worthy of a high five and praise. These moments are memorable and encourage curiosity and exploration. As they grow up though, you trend towards celebrating less, but bigger moments like graduations and birthdays. The same thing applies to the workplace. We get caught up in achieving big results and finishing large-scale projects, which can take years to come to fruition. But there are a lot of small successes to be celebrated in the meantime. I encourage VSP employees to celebrate small accomplishments. These lay the foundation for the big ones. Recognizing progress is being made helps keep employees happy and focused.
If you want your kids to follow the rules, you need to communicate them clearly. You may also need to explain why a certain rule exists. Clear communication and transparency establish a positive relationship. Kids ought to know what is expected of them and why. I apply the same philosophy in the workplace. I want employees to hear from me directly, which is why employees get a Monday morning video from me where I share what is on my mind. I want them to know why certain difficult business decisions are made and I want to address those directly. I also invite employees at all levels to email me with issues or concerns. My goal is to clearly communicate where the company is going and why. That is the only way that we will succeed as a team.
Live By Example
Your kids are always watching you and paying attention to what you do and say. They notice when you do the opposite of what you say. Tell them to eat kale while you eat chips? They will notice. And your actions will have far more impact than your words. When you lead a company, you lead by example. You can’t expect employees to do anything that you are not personally doing yourself. Every rule that you set forth, you should follow yourself. Your employees will notice if you don’t, just like your kids.
There is a lot about being a parent that can shape you into a better peer, mentor and leader. More important is the job of parenting itself and helping shape your kids to be adults with courage and character who can help make the world a better place. Happy Father’s Day!