It was a great leadership lesson.
Years ago, when I was working in a newsroom in Tennessee, I got promoted to city editor. I’d been a platoon leader in the Army, but this would be my first experience leading creative types — you know, those who consider themselves neither a leader nor a follower.
You know, a handful. And I knew that because I was one myself, and I was picked from the ranks of them.
A retired editor in town heard about my new job. She also knew I had three children under the age of 4. She sent me this note of encouragement: “You’ll do fine. You’re used to dealing with little children.”
That was not a criticism of our fine staff of journalists. It was an acknowledgment that leadership requires many of the attributes of good parenting, just as parenting requires good leadership. If you can do one, you can probably do the other.
I thought about that editor’s note this week while I was attending the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum. This annual gathering targets business leaders and is conducted by Columbus State University and sponsored by Synovus, TSYS and AT&T, as well as other companies, including the Ledger-Enquirer.
But much of the wisdom imparted could have also applied to parenting. At the very least, I could imagine my father passing it down to my brother and me while we were fishing. Here’s a sample:
▪ Ajaypal Singh Banga, president and CEO of MasterCard: “You can do well and do good at the same time.”
▪ Recently retired quarterback Peyton Manning: “Nobody wants to hear what you have to say until you show you can do it. … Leading by example is all that matters.”
▪ Bonnie St. John, Rhodes Scholar and Paralympic downhill skiing medalist: “People fall down, winners get up, gold medal winners get up faster.”
▪ Former NFL player Warrick Dunn: “Give your time to something bigger than yourself.”
▪ Shana Young, director of The Leadership Institute at CSU, on the reputation of millennials for being entitled: “They didn’t give themselves the trophies.”
▪ Psychologist Henry Cloud on what his father told him when he heard the news that Cloud, who was a college student dating the daughter of the governor of Texas, had wrecked the governor’s car on the way to meet him: “If you’re old enough to get in a mess like this, you’re old enough to figure it out. Let me know how you did it.”
▪ Jim Blanchard on the importance of putting God and family first: “There were times I was present with my family but I wasn’t present. … I’ve apologized to my boys … and hope they don’t have to apologize to their children.”
▪ Author Tommy Spaulding on what his grandfather would say to his grandchildren when they told him they loved him: “Don’t tell me you love me, show me you love me.”
▪ Sportscaster Jim Nantz on what his producer told him when he was 26 years old and working his first Masters Golf Tournament: “You were born for this moment!”
▪ Gen. David G. Perkins, commander of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, on what people think of their commanders: “ ‘I only want to know what you’re doing when things go bad.’ When things are going well, anybody can lead.”
▪ Marcus Luttrell, former Navy SEAL and author of “Lone Survivor,” with a twist on an old proverb: “When the teacher’s ready, the student will appear.”
▪ Bill Curry, former center for Bart Starr: “There are two kinds of pain: discipline and regret.”
All good advice, whether you’re the CEO of a family, or the father or mother of a Fortune 500 company.