Dad the Leader is part of our new Being Dad Series designed to empower you to be the best dad you can be to your kids.
In this installment, we focus on the positive things which dads can do to demonstrate leadership.
“You can never lead if you’re constantly occupied with fighting fires.” – Anonymous.
5. Proactiveness – Proactiveness is both an attitude and a positive leadership trait. We all instinctively know that time is our most scarce asset, and to make the most of our time, we need to be proactive.
Our leadership takes a very tangible form when we consistently strive in our circumstances to be a part of the solution, and not add to the problem. Because our kids watch our every move, this expression of leadership combines with the other aspects to create resilience, flexibility and an orientation towards positive action in our children.
When you lead with a proactive mindset, you focus attention on yourself as a problem solver, always looking for a better way to think and act. Develop this attitude in your children by drawing them into anything that you do which expresses proactiveness. Solve problems together. Think of better ways to do things together, and get involved in positive action together. Through our leadership, our children will not be NATO (No Action, Talk Only).
6. Influence – Use your natural position of influence as a dad to affirm, inspire, and grow your family.
The heart of every dad’s influence is aimed at one simple objective – to enhance and trigger positive growth. You want your children, and your family, to grow strong not only physically, but also in their aspirations, values and resilience.
Influence by example to lead them in the direction you want them to grow. If you want them to eat healthy – show them what kinds of foods to buy and enjoy. If you want them to study, do your work next to them.
Influence your children to adopt positive values, and hold on to a set of strong morals by nurturing their higher values of courage, empathy, kindness, service to others and self-sufficiency. For example, to nurture kindness, you could expose them to communities in need of help such as those found in your local elder care centres.
Finally, practice and perfect the art of persuasion. It is one of the most rewarding ways of exercising influence as it enables the building and maintaining of meaningful relationships. Teach your children this skill because persuasion encompasses negotiation – a vital ingredient to getting along with others in community.
7. Listening and communication for cohesiveness
The very definition of family is cohesiveness, and your key to building cohesiveness – thereby defining your family – is communication. There are two parts in leading your family through communication. The first is listening.
Listening lets you understand your family members as individuals. We all think we know our families, but the truth is, each and every one of our loved ones is a work in progress, and to know where each person is at any point in time, we need to know how to listen and what to listen for.
Listening also enforces your position as a leader. So, here are some essential keys to listening.
- Make time. Give others time to explain themselves fully before you respond. Do this, and you exercise leadership that builds healthy relationships. Leaders need to be conscious that they do not interrupt.
- Listen to the emotional state of your children and loved ones. This helps you to ‘catch’ any potential lapses in communicating with words alone.
- Acknowledge what your loved ones are saying, verbally and non-verbally.
- Be affirming, energetic and engaged as you listen – express a positive attitude and assume that your child or wife is saying something important to them.
Remember that you earn the right to be heard by listening to others.
Now comes the easy part – once you are done listening and your family member is done talking, it is time to speak. Here are some rules to remember:
- Let what you say help the person find the way forward, using your vision as a guide. (See Part 1 for Vision).
- Let what you say bridge any communication gap, re-establish connections and restore relationships.
- Say something of value, which your child or wife will be able to ‘catch’. Use stories, ideas and expressions that you know will catch their attention and inspire them.
- Be honest. Stick to the truth, and be especially careful of language that might hurt, frustrate or shame your child, and detract from your message.
- Don’t always use speech to communicate. Sometimes, a ‘show and tell’ approach is more effective, or giving your loved one the exposure to certain situations communicates your message in a most memorable way. Humour and body language are other alternative forms of communication that help your child retain your message, and know you better.
Part Three of this article is published here.
About the Author: The Dads for Life Resource Team comprises local content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals, dedicated to developing useful resources for dads.
First published on 30-08-2012