Father’s day is the opportunity to reflect on the dads in our lives and the lessons we learned explicitly or not. There’s the dumb jokes, socks in the sandals and failed attempts at a mustache, obsession with enough fiber, and other quirky things that stick out.

Now well into my own adulthood, I have a fresh appreciation of the things he was trying in his own way to teach and model.

Dads are easy targets. We all have one. Fatherhood as a meaningful societal topic has been seriously downgraded by decades of comedic ridicule. Whether it’s Fred Flintstone, Archie Bunker, Homer Simpson, or Peter Griffin, media dads are consistently portrayed as inept, overweight simpletons who bumble through life in varying degrees of self-inflicted crisis or dysfunction.

Essential dad qualities like character, integrity, deep care for their family, self- sacrifice and hard work seem in short supply in media portrayal.

For most of my growing up years, my dad was austere and somewhat distant. He had grown up in a devout, disciplinarian, matriarchal somewhat dysfunctional family. He was the only son in a family with five sisters. Grandchildren (like me) were considered second class citizens to seen and not heard. 

I was a precocious and rambunctious kid, continually getting into things. By all standards, I had a great childhood, but it seemed like I was always in on the verge or in some sort of trouble. Approval or any display of affection was in short supply. That was his way. It was how he was raised.

It wasn’t easy for him. The war years hijacked his career ambitions of being an educator. He tackled a variety of jobs to make ends meet. There was a failed attempt of making a go with the family farm, then hardware store manager, itinerant heavy duty mechanic for farm equipment and then chicken farming and egg production. It wasn’t ‘til his early forties that he revived his dream of being a teacher and we moved cross country to a new job in Ontario.

As I moved through my teens and young adulthood there was a gradual softening and growing acceptance. By my late twenties, we had a valued friendship with genuine dialogue. We enjoyed time together.

These days, being a dad myself, I’ve come to appreciate the deeper life lessons that were imprinted earlier on.

I learned relentless consistency, especially on things that are important. This life lesson has broad application leading to good results in so many areas. For him, it was regular oil and filter changes and regularly scheduled vehicle maintenance as per the manufacturers’ guide.

Long after he wasn’t able to drive and the memory was getting sketchy, I’d get quizzed on whether various vehicle things had been properly looked after.

I learned to work hard. He worked hard at whatever he set his hand to. Today’s information age seems to offer a “life-hack” for just about everything. The never changing reality is that most things that are valuable come on the other side of a ton of just plain hard work.

I learned to love deeply. Dad’s relationship with mom was a 70-year love affair. They both acknowledged having viable “other options” when it came to life partners. Well into their eighties, it was an on-going inside joke for them as they speculated about how things might be different if they had decided on marrying so and so. Invariably this conversation would dissolve in laughter.

He gave me versatility and grit. He taught me by example that with intention, focus, patience, and determination I could master new competencies. His forays into various jobs and enterprises were born of necessity.  I meanwhile, had the blessings of many options.

There are many other things, too many to enumerate.

God blessed me with a great dad and I’m grateful.

 I saved this Times article, not really knowing why.
Maybe it’s because I’m a total leadership geek and try to absorb everything I can on this topic.

Ambitiously named “Project Oxygen”, the mission, as reported in the New York Times, was to build better leaders. After combing through internal performance reviews, feedback surveys, and other data-rich metrics, they distilled what makes good leadership down to 8 bullet points.
Read about it here:

Given the massive, high profile unrest of Google employees over the last year, it raises the question “How’s that Oxygen Leadership thing going over there in Google-ville?”  Resignations and protest walkouts have taken place over a range of frustrations from particular ethical concerns over the use of artificial intelligence in drone warfare to broader worries about Google’s political decisions—and the erosion of user trust that could result from these actions. A $90m payout to a top exec. under murky circumstances didn’t help matters.

I don’t need Google. My wife (or husband) knows everything!
– Anonymous 

Historically, Google has promoted an open culture that encourages employees to challenge and debate product decisions. But some employees feel that their leadership is no longer attentive to their concerns, leaving them to face the fallout. “Over the last couple of months, I’ve been less and less impressed with the response and the way people’s concerns are being treated and listened to,” one employee who resigned said.

Below, is the comprehensive list of what Google came up with as recipe ingredients for effective leadership and management back in ’09 

1. Be a good coach
Provide specific, constructive feedback, balancing the negative and the positive.Have regular one-on-ones, presenting solutions to problems tailored to your employees’ specific strengths.

2. Empower your team and don’t micromanage
Balance giving freedom to your employees, while still being available for advice. Make “stretch” assignments to help the team tackle big problems.

3. Express interest in team members’ success and personal well-being
Get to know your employees as people, with lives outside of work.Make new members of your team feel welcome and help ease their transition

4. Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented
Focus on what employees want the team to achieve and how they can help achieve it.Help the team prioritize work and use seniority to remove roadblocks.

5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team
Communication is two-way: you both listen and share information.
Hold all-hands meetings and be straightforward about the messages and goals of the team. Help the team connect the dots.
Encourage open dialogue and listen to the issues and concerns of your employees.

6. Help your employees with career development

7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team

Even in the midst of turmoil, keep the team focused on goals and strategy.
Involve the team in setting and evolving the team’s vision and making progress toward it.

8. Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team
Roll up your sleeves and conduct work side by side with the team, when needed.
Understand the specific challenges of the work.

Really? That’s it? 
I’m having flashbacks of Steve Carell and The Office.

You’ve probably seen variations of this list before. Best-selling business tomes have been writing on these topics for years.
While I agree with all 8 points, it’s still kind of Leadership 101–ish. You know, the kind of info you can find in Leadership for Dummies. (which actually is pretty good)

Perhaps Google has reached such dizzying heights that the oxygen is running a bit thin. 
I get it that no one is asking my advice, however I can’t help but dive in with a few leadership pointers of my own. 

What about delivering on the bedrock of character? 
Deep respect, honesty, humility, being fair-minded, kind-hearted with a serving others mindset are all essential.

What about delivering on trust?
Trust is to an organization what oil is to a car engine. It keeps the moving parts from seizing up and stopping forward motion.
But trust is not something you can take for granted. It takes months—sometimes years—to build. Unfortunately, you can lose it overnight.

What about soft skills? 
There’s still a lot of buy-in on the prevailing stereotypical Type -A hard-chargers in today’s get stuff done business environment.  leadership is actually about soft skills such as empathy, listening, understanding motivation, communicating, and the like. 
Even St. Brene’, the reigning queen of touchy-feely, is weighing in on leadership with her latest offering, Dare to Lead.

What about deep listening? 
Richard Branson purportedly makes this a priority in his personal leadership style. You’d think he’d be front and center at each executive team meeting, but no, he prefers to listen quietly, making notes and contribute only when he has something to say. 

What about aspiring and inspiring?
It’s not just about getting things done. It’s about making things happen.  A great leader makes things happen by inspiring, encouraging, and enabling others to act toward a compelling common vision.
One of my most trusted resources on leadership wisdom is the business classic, the Leadership Challenge. Authors Kouzes and Posner make the point that the content of great leadership doesn’t change, however the context of leadership is constantly changing.  The increased pace of change of the 21st century with all the complexities it brings, is the new normal.

That’s one of the reasons I dubbed my monthly memo “Hey, What’s Next?”
Figuring out what needs to happen next and navigating the new normal is a deeply personal leadership challenge for myself and those I serve.

One comforting takeaway from all this?  It’s good to know that the biggest and the best wrestle with the leadership issues that you and I face on a daily basis.

“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.” 
― Neil Gaiman

Rock- on Google! We all use your services every day. Don’t take us for granted.

I’d be delighted if you drop me a text or a note to let me know how things are going and what’s happening for you these days.

Here to help.

Lorne  (604 617 4707)

P.S. Do you know a friend, a colleague, or family member who would enjoy this article? If so please click on this link.

June Habit Challenge:

Start Your Morning With Intention

Change is hard. You’ve probably noticed that.

We all want to become better people and do better at life — live stronger and healthier, be more creative and more skilled, be a better friend or family member.

Even if we get totally inspired and start doing things better, it’s tough to actually stick to new behaviors. Odds are that this time next year you’ll be doing the same thing rather than performing a new habit with ease.

Habits are our personal travel companions in the journey of life. They can be our friend or our foe. Make us or break us.

It’s a well-document fact that people who are highly effective, do some things differently than most others. 

This month’s habit challenge. Start each day with an intentional morning and habits that inspire you. 

Me, I like to start each day early with quiet time and a gratitude meditation accompanied with some good strong coffee. I review my three words for the year and think through how to apply them to this day’s activities. Often I’ll read from sources that are personally thought-provoking, encouraging or inspiring. Finally, I’ll jot down the main things I want to accomplish this day. 

I refuse to open a device or check emails etc. until I’ve done my routine and feel good about the possibilities of each new day. That’s when I feel ready.

This is a lot of habit all rolled into one, an intentional morning.

Some people roll out of bed and start their day with a jog or a workout. Others like to spend a bit of time with their kids. There’s no “one size fits all” here.Drop me a not

For the month of June, I challenge you to design your morning. Start small, but start with intention.

How about you?
Have you ever managed to gain an inspiring morning habit—or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?
Drop me a note – I’d love to hear about it.