Family leadership is a core desire of fathers. As dads, we ultimately want to lead our families well. Most of the time we are just trying not to jack things up.
Career, health, fitness, faith, and relationships all seem to get in the way. But what if they don’t have to? What if you can have all of those while leading your family. And what if you need to use your career, health, fitness, and faith as your building grounds for the trust your family needs in order to follow you.
Here are three things you can do to grow your family leadership.
Leaders take people from one place to another. In our families, that can be from debt to financial freedom. It can be from a dysfunctional to a collaborative home environment. Or it can be from home to Disney World.
As leaders in our home, we set the direction. To know where we are going, we have to know where we are now. Assess your current situation as a family and determine where you would like to be as a family.
Determining the destination doesn’t have to be a lonely exercise. In fact, it’s better when you include the entire family on the decision. Do not feel like you have to. You do have to gain buy-in from your family. We will talk about that in a few.
You have to know where you are going. It’s that simple. Without a clear direction guided by your family’s principles, you will meander about and never hit your intended mark.
An example of clear direction sounds like this: “We are going to be financially free. That means we choose how to use our money before we use it. It also means we do that without debt. Right now, we have a lot of debt. We are going to change that. Through hard work and tough choices, we will be debt free in (insert your specific time frame).”
That clear direction tells why, what, and a high-level how. When you decide you want that new sports coat or new sports car, your wife needs to be able to put you in check against the direction you set.
This works well with the kids too. More on communication in the next section.
Communication in a family can take many forms. In our family, we almost always screw this up! We intend to have a “sit down” conversation with the kids about something. That doesn’t happen often.
What we actually do: We use a family calendar, talk at the dinner table, chat on a trip, or in the car on the way to practice. There is no magic formula for communication.
The Four C’s of Communication
There are some things that make it easier when conveying a key message. AllProDad.com says to be calm, confident, clear, and concise. I agree.
Utilizing these four when talking about a new direction for your family will go a long way. Being too excited about the new direction instead of calm can lead to a lack of buy-in.
Asking your kids, “What do you think?”, is well-intentioned but can show them you are not confident. Instead, be calm and indicate the direction is decided (assuming you have aligned with your wife on it) and let them see the confidence you have in the decision.
If you are not confident, you are not ready to share yet because you haven’t yet truly decided. Only then can you actually be clear and concise anyways.
I love what Brene Brown says in her book Dare to Lead about how trust is built. She says, “Trust is built in small moments”. The illustrations she gives is a jar. Each time a small action occurs that builds trust a marble goes into the jar.
Your kids need to trust you in order to “naturally” follow you. That type of trust can come through following up on our clear and concise information. It can come from you following through on a promise you’ve made to them or others.
Kids (and everyone else) see a reason to trust you when you live from your integrity. My definition of integrity is simply doing what you say you will do.
Unintentional Breach of Trust
When we do not follow through on things we’ve committed to, others see that. We often excuse ourselves from the blunder and forget it. Others, especially kids, never forget.
Ever had your kids reminded you of a promise you made three years ago about getting donuts? I have.
Each time those promises are broken, one marble comes out of the jar, right? Wrong. I wish. No, a handful of marbles come out. Rebuilding trust with anyone works the same way. One marble at a time.
As a leader with the trust of your tribe, you can lead them anywhere. Having the right direction is key to putting more marbles in the jar.
Family Leadership Nuggets
- Direction – Know where you are going
- Communicate – Build buy-in, share direction and why, and follow up often
- Trust – Build trust by being confident and following through on what you say
For more family leadership ideas, download the “Be A Better Man” guide. I have pulled 101 practical ways to improve as a man to spark some ideas for you.