The death of Chick-fil-A founder, S. Truet Cathy, reminded me of how important purpose and belief is to leadership. The family-owned company with annual sales of more than $5 billion stuck to its values, and succeeded where countless other businesses failed. Granted family takes work, but those who make it their work know that it has the highest job satisfaction of all.
I think there are at least five gifts every leader needs to give to their family members.
1. Give them your affection.
Social Media provide a communication system unlike any other, but sometimes the cost is greater than the benefit. It’s not unusual to see a family at a restaurant table with smartphones in hand talking (or texting) with everyone but each other. You might need a “tech timeout” to get a face-to-face conversation that includes the phrase, “I love you.” Make it happen. Those words, and hug, will be one of the greatest gifts you will ever give your family.
2. Give them your attention.
If it’s the little things that count, how many little things can your family count? You don’t have to write a romance novel to express your love and attention. Have you spotted the new hairdo in the house yet? Mention it. Are you stressing over the job vs. attending your child’s soccer game? Go with the game. Is your calendar too full to spend time with your spouse? Revise it. Your family needs you to notice the small stuff.
3. Give them your recognition.
Think back to that moment when you received a company “Best” award. Maybe it was the Employee of the Month, or the “Clean Desk Award.” Remember how it made you feel better about yourself. Now apply that to the news that a family member has a starring role in the school play or is featured in a news story. How about creating your own award? A framed certificate of achievement recognizing an accomplishment or promotion could very well be one of those “dresser drawer treasures” that a family member will keep forever.
4. Give them your formation.
Did you ever see yourself as your family’s coach or think of your family life as a training camp? It is, you know. What do you need to teach them about life? About leadership? About finances? About morality? You won’t need a whiteboard. Your life will do. Teaching by example has never been improved on.
5. Give them your relaxation.
Remember that spontaneous decision to postpone working on that office project for a trip to the mountains or the beach? That may be one of the greatest gifts you’ll ever give. You’ve taught your family how to work, but do they know how to play. Family members will work the rest of their life, and barely remember a day of it. But relaxing, fun times will never be forgotten.
A CNN report on S. Truet Cathy’s death said the Chick-fil-A chain would “remain in private hands” and would “remain closed on Sundays.” Transition complete. Family values will be passed along because of a leader who valued his family.”