Ørjan: Empowerment Lessons from My Dad
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It’s late in the evening far up in the mountains and rain is pouring down. I’m ten years old and my hand is holding on to my dad’s big, strong hand. Together with my sister we are mountain hiking in Holmedal, Norway, where my grandparents have their summerhouse. It is not the ﬁrst time we are hiking in bad weather, we are famous for it. I am tired and hungry and my boots are ﬁlled with water, yet I feel safe and have a good attitude. I want to sit down and rest, and I’m thinking of being home safe, in my mother’s lap. But to give up is not an option.
I learned from my dad that giving up is not a solution.
The mountain hikes he took me on had great rewards: I felt proud and fulﬁlled to complete them; I felt safe, because dad always looked after me; when we ﬁnally made it home, food tasted like never before.
But the most exciting reward I would be thinking about was my dad’s proud eyes, the warm hugs from my mom, and all the praise I would receive for completing these challenging ventures. I longed for this form of reward so I could feel like a young man instead of a child.
My dad made me feel like a leader. The most important part of leading leaders is to make them feel like leaders. We all strive for the reward of recognition and a job well done. Actors are looking for an Oscar. CEOs are looking for peer reviews of their ﬁnancials. Politicians are looking for recognition in the polls.
In order to build leaders, create an environment where people can develop, feel safe and be rewarded. This brings out the best in all of us. Here are three keys for leading leaders:
- Develop a personal growth plan. Build your leaders’ mindset so they can stay on top and get back up when the beating comes. When you see your leaders fail, step in and help them back up like my father’s big hand helped me. And guess what: He never took the credit; he only promoted my achievement.
- Develop a friendship. When things get tough, friendship will carry you through. Spend time with your leaders and it will be easier for them to duplicate you. Not all things learned can be taught; some have to be shown. Watching you—in business as in personal life—counts for more than hundreds of hours of training. Truly living what you teach at all times creates belief and trust.
- Bring leaders to your level. Expect from them what you expect from yourself, and help them achieve it. Provide what they need so they can bloom. The trademark of a true master is that he makes his student better than himself.
A good father helps, guides and recognizes his son (even if the son only did parts and the father did most of the work). Do the same and you will create great and growing leadership around you.