The First Leader In My Life

He kind of snuck up on me.  I mean he’s been here since the day I was born, but the leader in him snuck up on me.

My dad is the most consistent, patient and committed leader I know.  A high school educated, hard-working guy, life hasn’t always been super easy for him.  He generally responds to life with a calm assured demeanor… other than the stresses he internalizes from raising three daughters!

Just look at us.  Do we look like we’ve ever caused him any trouble?! 🙂

Dad’s faced plenty of highs and lows but he generally approaches life with a positive attitude… at least that’s probably how he would describe.  But frankly that doesn’t capture it enough for me.  What I feel like my Dad has more consistently displayed for me is hope.  Dad always believes there is something better and doesn’t let the negative stuff get him down.  From a home improvement project gone way wrong (we might have encountered a few of those) to a tragic family situation, Dad has always remained hopeful and that’s why I believe he’s one of the most inspiring leaders I know.

So for father’s day I thought I would introduce you to the first leader who impacted my life and still impacts it every single day.

My Dad.  He would tell you to simply call him “Joe”.

What does being a leader mean to you?

Being a leader to me is both an honor and a privilege.  To me it means your peers have entrusted you to make decisions that influence their lives.  Others have the confidence that the decisions you make are ones they trust.  To me it is that over time you have displayed the ability to resolve issues and make decisions that provide results no matter how large or small.

When did you realize you had leadership influence with others?

I realized this at a very early age.  To me it started back in grade school when I was the one others came to.  At first it was sports.  Always being the one to pick teams even when older kids were there.  Later in high school others came to me for my input on school functions and activities. People always seemed to follow me in decision making and direction.  Once I went into the work force I started to understand better what being a leader was. I started to understand the impact my decisions had on others.  Once I entered the work force it only took a couple of years and I realized that being in management was what I wanted to do.  I always embraced that responsibility and never felt it was a burden or chore.  It just seems to come naturally.

You’ve always modeled the values of hard work and respect for others.  How do you think this has impacted your influence with those you lead?

I believe that hard work is the core of a good leader.   I never asked anyone to do anything I would not do myself.  As a new leader, you lead by example.  You need to let everyone know that you will do it before you ask others to.  As your leadership experience grows and respect by others grows this becomes less of a need.  A great leader has the respect of everyone around them.  A leader must earn this respect; it is not something given to you.  Training other leaders is always the biggest obstacle to get over.  Knowing how much influence you can have and letting them find that magic formula to be great themselves.

Who has been the most influential leader in your life?

My father might have been the most influential at a time when I did not even realize it.  Early on in my professional life he told me that if I was fair and honest in my decision making I would be respected. At the time he told me this I did not realize how important in my life this would become. After high school I was working in sales in the food industry.  I was calling on stores that my father had previously called on.  Every store owner that I met would say the same thing about my Dad.  If I was as respectful and honest as my Dad I would do very well in life.  My father believed in hard work and instilled this in me.  I learned that actions were much more important than any words spoken.

In my manufacturing career, the plant manager who I worked for was very instrumental in my leadership development.  He held me to a very high standard of managing people.  He accepted no excuses and instilled in me the importance of communication.

What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned so far?

To me the most important aspect of being a leader is to be fair and honest to everyone.  This makes no difference what the issues are.  We all make decisions everyday that do not please everyone.  But we have the opportunity to be honest with these decisions. Individuals might not agree with every decision but if they respect you and know you are being honest they will accept it and move forward.  Communication is just as important.  I believe that great leaders have above average communication skills.  I believe this is where most leaders fall short.  They assume everyone knows what the goals or objectives are.  Every leaders needs to take the time to communicate enough so the task or project goals are understood.

I think the greatest lesson for any leader is to understand the various personalities that we deal with.  Knowing how to reach each person in the correct manner, providing them with the tools they need to achieve the goals set out for them.

See why I love this guy?

Dad, thank you for being an example to me of a fair, honest and trustworthy leader.  Your wisdom in my life is a gift that I treasure!

Happy Father’s Day!  I Love you!






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  • Ron Edmondson June 16, 2012  

    Jenni, no doubt your dad is very proud of you. He did his greatest leadership job well. 

  • Donald McAllister June 17, 2012  

    Thanks for this interview with your dad. “consistent, patient, committed.” That’s the heart of great leadership.