My wife, Mary Kay, answered the phone last Sunday and learned that one of her employees had died in an accident late Saturday night. As I write this she is in Wisconsin at the funeral.
One of her favorite memories of last night’s wake was the eulogy given by his 11-year-old son. Apparently many of those there said the deceased was one of their closest friends. The son said that his dad really was his closest friend. Then the lad told about the time that his dad took him fishing and was having a chat with him as they walked. His dad said something to the effect, “If your mother ever, and I mean ever, asks you to do something you had better do it or I’m going to kick your butt!”
Leadership. The young boy will remember that story forever.
We often think of leadership as being defined what we do at our companies. I get confused with that, too, at times. Leadership needs to start at home, in our non-work world. Especially if you have kids … and I mean kids at any age. Do your kids look as you as a leader? If you don’t have kids do your nephews, nieces, neighbors and friends look at you as a leader?
This is where complete leadership comes into play. I’ve read books about people who were described as tremendous leaders in their profession only to learn that in their personal lives they were anything but a leader.
In the past few weeks either Mary Kay or I have been to at least three wakes or funerals. There was a blur of who these deceased really were. In every one of the situations there was little difference between who they were in the business life as well as their personal life. All were respected.
Compare this with a story my son told me recently. His commission is as a leader of an honor guard and he attends funerals every day presenting the flag to the spouse/parent. He just told me about a father who recently buried his son. In the crowd were less than 10 people. The Dad got up in front of the group, put the urn on the ground and said, “You are getting what you wanted—buried with your mother around the fourth of July.” Dad then threw two pennies on the ground and start pouring whiskey on top of the urn and continued, “Here is two cents—that is all you are worth. Here is your whiskey as you chose to always self-medicate. That is all I’ve got to say.”
Imagine this happening … because I just can’t. It is sad to realize the son didn’t understand anything about leadership when you see that his own family didn’t care about him and it was obvious not many friends were there either.
This week’s message is about taking a good look into our own lives. Are we the leader that we need and want to be? Are we that leader in every phase of our life?
Recently I was doing some research into employee retention. Did you know that 87 percent of all leaders think employees leave them for money? In actuality, it’s only 12 percent. People typically leave because of their boss. Bosses who are poor leaders.
We all know people who are great leaders at work as well as great leaders in their personal lives. Unfortunately, leaders like that seem far and few between. It is simply because of one reason—choices. We all make choices. We choose if we are going to be good leaders in our lives.
When one goes to a eulogy they learn a great deal about the deceased very quickly—just as my son learned a great deal about the soldier at that funeral.
“Until Death Do Us Part” is a phrase that is so common in a wedding ceremony but not common enough when we talk about leadership. Make a choice, today, to be the leader you want to be in every phase of your life. It is up to you.