Who was your first leader in life? For me, unquestionably, it was my dad. In a real way, he was the leader of our household and our family – my mother and my four brothers and me. I recall, at times, his leadership was stern: setting down the rules and laying out the consequences with no uncertain terms. No kid in our home wanted to step out of the lane for fear of my father’s wrath. In reality, everyone also knew my dad’s jokes and humor would lighten the day.
In looking back, my dad was a very good leader because he was clear about the rules and expectations. He set those out of love and out of a desire for good for each of us. At other times, his leadership was gentle – he was my greatest cheerleader, building me up in all my endeavors, encouraging me to do my best and to be better. And even still at other times, especially as I reflect as an adult child, he led with wisdom. Perhaps, he has done so through wise correction or by sharing with me a lesson in his life that might be pertinent in my life today.
Most importantly, my dad was a good leader because he knew the values that he stood for and those that he wanted to impart on his kids:
- We work hard in our family.
- We love God and give him pride and place, especially on Sundays.
- We get a good education to provide for our family and ourselves.
- We love our family through thick and thin and forgive often.
- We are always on time. No matter the place, the meeting, the commitment, you must be on time because being tardy (and consistently tardy) says a lot of one’s character.
Leadership is a lived experience as my dad showed me over the years. It’s a constant desire to hone in on your values, be self-aware, and, most of all, be self-giving to those entrusted to you. Brené Brown, author of the book, “Dare to Lead,” devotes an entire chapter on “daring leaders to live into their values.” She says on this topic:
“Our values should be so crystallized in our minds, so infallible, so precise and clear and unassailable, that they don’t feel like a choice – they are simply a definition of who we are in our lives.”
I’ve had the pleasure of working with many great leaders in my 30+ years in the workforce. Some of my favorite leaders are not the polished or refined or rehearsed ones, but rather the ones who truly know themselves and what they stand for. These are “daring” leaders. They dare to know themselves. Their values emanate from every decision and action they make. Their values come through in how they speak to others, how they engage their employees, how they make decisions, and how they carry themselves in public and in meetings.
At GEM, we help leaders with their message. Importantly, we work to bring out the values they espouse through clear, concise, and compelling communications. We may do this through a well-crafted email or well-produced video. In the end, our greatest desire is to encourage strong leadership, uncovering the unique qualities and values from within. Because with strong leadership, it’s been proven time and again: people will engage, they will follow, they will perform well, and they will become leaders in their own right. With strong leadership, the fruits of your labor are multiplied, leading to the greatest triumphs and even the best lessons learned. The daring leader can truly drive the very best communications within an organization. We can help with the process and tools.
She is the founder of GEM Communications and Consulting. With 30+ years of experience in communications planning and execution, she enjoys working with leaders in messaging, culture, and performance management efforts. She and her team work with Fortune 100 companies on a variety of marketing and communications efforts that garner support, alignment, and results.