Leadership Begins at Home

Leadership Begins at Home image Chuck and 4 kidlets on Yonge Aug 20 06 Black and White smlLeadership Begins at Home

What if any of the following news headlines involved your own family?

          Youth Fatally Shot in Busy Eaton Centre Mall in Toronto

          Three Auburn Football Players/Students Shot at Party

          1-Year-Old Boy Shot in Father’s Arms

The reality is that these incidents in our communities impact all of our families. At the very least, they may create an undercurrent of fear. A few decades ago, I volunteered as part of the leadership team for an inner-city youth group. I spent four years in that role. I will never forget attending the funeral of one of our 17-year-old boys, who had been shot in the back. These sorts of incidents do impact society as a whole, and I’d like to share an observation and a challenge for us all.

While there are many dads (and moms) who deserve praise for their parenting efforts, too often we continue to observe the absence of fathers in the lives of many young people. Whether it be due to divorce, fathers who chose not to be dads, or fathers who are simply too busy, the impact of the absence is noticeable. I have seen some incredible single moms of kids on my sons’ sports teams, but the burden is tough. I sometimes wonder how the kids feel, never having a father show up at a game. Young boys in particular need the leadership of male role models who offer constructive life lessons, including the setting and achieving of worthwhile goals. Kids who are left to learn those life lessons from Hollywood, TV, the music industry and inner city thugs grow up with an unfortunate understanding of their world.

In a recent interview Billy Graham, ministry leader and author of the recent book Nearing Home: Life, Faith and Finishing Well, was asked if he had any regrets as he looked back on his life. He replied that he wished he had spent more time with his family. In retrospect, he said that while his main mission was important, he needn’t have attended and officiated at as many weddings and funerals as he was invited to.

Here at Excel, while equipping managers and leaders with coaching skills, one of the comments we frequently hear months later is, “Not only did this coaching model help get results at work, but it was very useful at home as well.” Many of us work in industries that are willing to put their resources into helping people develop their communication and coaching skills in the workplace – taking those skills home with us to improve our family mentoring is one way to compensate for all the time that the job requires.

While many will be celebrated on Fathers’ Day, here are a few questions and challenges for us all to consider.

1) What would the impact be in your community if you were to commit, in some way, to helping youth who may not have a father involved in their lives? What groups could you volunteer with or offer financial support to? Perhaps there is a single-parent family you could offer to help out. Whether you take the kids to a movie or contribute to a summer camp, there are ways that you can let them know that you care and model acts of kindness for them.

2) On a scale of 1 to 10, how are you doing as a father, grandfather or partner? What would the impact be on your family, children and grandchildren, if you were to give more individual attention to them in the year ahead? What can you start to do in order to carve out more time to allow for this? Sometimes little things can go a long way: An encouraging note left in the backpack of a high-schooler, or a surprise picture and note in the lunch bag of a grade-schooler. Perhaps give some thought to beginning an annual tradition with the kids or grandkids – a monthly or quarterly “Daddy Day” where you get the kids from school and take them for lunch. The impact can be immeasurable.

As I conclude this entry, I am taking the day to drive my son and 3 other boys to the city track & field finals. After reflecting on the recent news events, I am also accepting a speaking invitation from an inner-city youth group. Frankly, after reading stories like the ones headlined above, I’ve felt guilty for not responding sooner. It’s not enough to be “Dad” to mine – I believe it’s important to show my sons how we can contribute to the lives of others in a way that will positively impact our communities.

“Many youth go a lot farther than they thought they could, simply because someone else thought they could!” Imagine the impact if we all just invested a little in society’s youth; we would reap the benefits of safer, fulfilling communities. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. Leadership begins at home, as we coach-lead our collective youth to achieve a world that they, in turn, can be proud to pass on to future generations.

It is rare that I delve into something of a personal nature here, as I have done above. Thanks for allowing me to indulge, and feel free to pass this message on to others.

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