3 Things that Make me Smile (as a Leader and a Parent)

Life is full of seasons and my current season is one that involves many opportunities that have come as a result of choices I have made earlier in my life.  One of the best choices I have ever made was to marry my wife, Gena, almost 35 years ago.  This marriage has been fulfilling and joyful in many ways, but one of the biggest joys I have received is to have the opportunity to raise two sons.  Today’s post focuses on three things that make me smile as a parent and as a leader in my family.  This is not to say I am the only leader, far from that, since my wife has many skills that far surpass mine in the areas of negotiation and conflict management.  More on that some other time.

Here are three things that make me smile as a parent:

  1. I see both of my sons as good organizers and leaders of others.  I could cite endless examples, but one of the more informal ways I see this is through events they organize around sporting events.  My oldest son is adept at organizing tailgates at Vanderbilt football games and he knows what his role is and has the ability to enlist others to play key roles.  This skill will benefit him in many ways, not only as a volunteer, but also as a contributor in the workplace.
  2. Both of my sons are good at building and maintaining a network of friends and acquaintances.  The nice corollary of this is I get to meet and know many of their friends, who are all future leaders in their own worlds.  Having the ability to build and maintain relationships is a key leadership trait and one I would like to think my sons learned from their parents.  Many stories have been told by both boys about waiting for the “old man” while he was networking with someone at church or some other place we went as a family.
  3. Both of my sons are willing to give back to the community.  My wife and I had the opportunity to spend ample time with both sons while they were young in Scouting and we are extremely proud to remember their attainment of the rank of Eagle Scout.  This service mentality has carried over into their adult lives and they each give back in their own ways.  One thing I hope they don’t replicate from their father is to be “over committed” as a volunteer.  There is a fine balance in knowing the right amount of time to give back in comparison to your vocation and family time.  This has often been out of balance for their father.

I could add many other things to this list, but good leaders have the ability to organize, build and maintain relationships and give back to their community.  I smile every time I see both Daniel and Matthew Ryan do this and I know their mother does too.

Leadership is not learned in the classroom, but it is practiced in the streets and hallways of our world.  Take the time to show someone else how to lead and also be sure to thank and encourage them when they do so.