“It’s not my intent to be a father figure for you. I’m certainly a champion and mentor for you here, but don’t look to me as a father figure.”
That was the crucial message the VP gave to one of the Software Engineering Directors.
But why was that message so crucial? And for whom?
Certainly it’s important that businesses stop referring to their employed team members as “family.” I’m sure you’ve read countless reasons why that’s a bad idea, including the fact that family members don’t “let go” other family members when the budget gets tight.
But there’s another reason that’s at least as important.
As a leader who has a real family, you want to keep your priorities and behaviors straight.
➡️ Measurement, accountability, and feedback have some trusted structures in a business environment. That business approach can often alienate family members.
➡️ Family members often need more direct expressions of love through explicit statements and gentle physical touch that would not be appropriate in business.
➡️ While it’s sometimes necessary to shield business team members from confidential work challenges, your shield for family members may need to be larger and stronger.
➡️ Family leadership often demands long conversations with far more emotional depth and grace than is appropriate in a workplace setting.
During this holiday season, take some time to reflect on how you’re showing up for your family. Is it sufficiently different from how you are at work? What will you aim to do differently next year?