Life has its challenges, and being a father compounds those challenges. Someone has got to be the leader in the family. The buck has got to stop with someone. Herein lies the challenge.
I believe that fathers are called to be leaders in love. Being a leader requires making decisions on behalf of those you lead that are open to question. It also requires that you are prepared to take the criticism that your decided course of action will arouse.
Another aspect of leadership is the wisdom required to achieve consensus-style leadership decisions where everyone owns and abides by the final decision. This is commonly called win-win decision making.
Some time ago, I faced a difficult decision on the home front. We had three sons who were working full-time. Their contribution to their share of the consumption of food and other household costs was averaging $50 per week each. Both my wife and I knew that this was inadequate, and that it was at least twice this figure. Our sons were not excited by the possibility of an increase, and began to object to the proposal.
I remembered Steve Covey, author of ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families’, writing about a situation where both he and his wife realised they had to cut back the amount of TV their children were watching. As they talked about it, the children began to object, but Stephen Covey had a very good idea. He called a meeting of his nine children (I thought I had a large family), gave them all the facts and figures of the bad effects of too much TV, and then left the room so that his kids could make the decision themselves.
The result was that the children agreed together to limit TV-viewing to a much more family-friendly level independently of mum and dad. This is an example of win-win decision-making at its best.
Putting this idea into effect, my wife and I worked out the average household costs on a weekly basis per family member. We discussed the pros and cons at our weekly family meeting/fun night, and then left the final decision up to our sons. The final result was a much more realistic contribution to living costs than before. The decision was not only a good result, but gave them an insight into the decision-making process themselves.
Leadership is not just telling people what to do, but devising ways whereby people can make their own decisions and learn responsibility in the process. True servant leadership is helping people make decisions and then standing back and letting them take the credit for the decision that you helped them make.
Lau Tzu, the Chinese philosopher, describes those leaders who help create win-win decisions:
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists,
when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: ‘we did it ourselves’.”
Work at being a leader in love by achieving win-win results from the whole family on a collective basis.
Remember — a good leader can inspire his or her followers to want to be led.
This is one of the biggest challenges of being a father.
Leading families in love and gentleness is the mark of good fathering.
Win-win decision making is the best way to lead in love.
Go for it and put theory into practice today.
Yours for leading in love,