I grew up watching my father preach on a weekly basis and lead his local church day in and day out. In some instances, I would notice my father give priority to ministry affairs rather than to us, his family. I thank God this wasn't always the case, but I have seen many people not prioritize their families and end up losing them in their quest to "change the world". Actually, a couple of years ago I came close to losing my marriage because of not placing my marriage as a priority (that's a good story for a future blog post).
I say all that to make the point that our first leadership efforts should be with our families. As leaders, it is vital that we first seek the well-being of our families since that will greatly influence our leadership. We must balance between our priorities and our pursuits. Perhaps you may be single at the moment and feel excluded from the above statement, but let me tell you, much of how you will lead in the future begins with the disciplines you adopt when you are young. So don't tune me out, stay with me and learn from my experiences.
Your family should be the first to believe in you
I have noticed that as leaders the temptation to separate family and work life is very appealing. When we operate in this manner, there is a high possibility of living a double life. What do I mean by that? We can live in two different realities: 1. A created image, a facade and 2. Who we truly are.
I would argue that our leadership should be fully linked to our family life and not just our workplaces or public life. Because if my family is emotionally healthy, supporting me and giving me the courage to exercise my leadership, that will strengthen me in a unique way. But if I have a family that does not believe in me, they do not see consistency between what I say and what I do, they would probably be the first to call me a hypocrite. It is not just about being a well-known public figure but also about effectively leading my closest community: my family.
Invest in Your Family
There are many recommendations I can give you as a leader to take good care of your family: Have a date with your partner once a week or take a whole day just to be with your family. All those tips are very good, but you can do all of that and not be present. You can be on a date with your spouse, but be on the phone replying to emails or browsing your social media platforms. So I would encourage us in two ways:
1- when we are with our families, let's be present in the moment. Let's lose all the distractions and give our undivided attention. Personally, I've gone to the extreme of turning off my cell phone or leaving it in the car just to be present. This act will show your family you matter to them but also give you an opportunity to learn valuable leadership lessons you can share in the future.
2- invite our families to participate in help bring solutions to our leadership challenges. Obviously, in some cases we need to be discrete but let's not be shy in asking our family for wisdom. As an old proverb says, two are better than one. So yes, even our kids can help us lead.
As leaders, our family life is tied to our leadership. Do not think that having a double life will give you an advantage on what you are doing. When you join your family life to your leadership that gives you power, inspiration and affirms your credibility as a leader.
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