Laura on couch
Creating YOUR Advantage 
June, 2009

Is your leadership style too rigid?
 I grew up during a time when dads were not expected to be involved with their families.  The message for them was to sacrifice everything related to home and to be the sole providers for their families. 
Gender roles were at extreme poles.  
Moms were mons, and dads were...well, unfortunately not allowed to be dads.

Fortunately, times have changed. The 21st century is a time where we are all trying to find the center in our lives. 
Women are trying to break in to higher levels of the workplace and men are trying to break out.   The reality is that the old suit that men have worn for years doesn't fit them any longer.  Like women, men want fuller lives.  We may not be completely there yet, but we are certainly moving in the right direction. 

But we often come up against the wrath of old thinking.  Rigid roles of the past are passť.  And yet, they do pop up in our heads too frequently.  Dads who choose to stop working at 4pm to rush home to coach their kid's baseball team have to confront this judgment.  As do fathers who chose to become stay-at-home dads.  Even worst, what about the guy that wants to reinvent himself and step away from a high-paying, high-stress job to pursue a "less practical" passion? 

When I wrote my book, The Connected and Committed Leader, my hope was to help redefine leadership in the workplace so that collectively, men and women could thrive. It is not about achieving balance, but finding a center in the extremes that no longer work for us. In other words, creating work that works in today's world.  Since my leadership insights draw on the heart-driven aspects of parenting and apply them back to business, many people thought that my book was strictly geared towards women.  After all, how often do we speak of home when it comes to men?  Not often enough. 
However, in my work today with corporate and entrepreneurial professionals, I find men really connect to my insights in different ways than women.  Men are seeking permission to shed the corporate armor and to be more human at work and at home.  Where as women are looking for validation that they can keep being themselves without the armor and still be successful in business.

In truth, we are all tired of the old ways; the rigid hierarchies and the command and control models no longer work. 
Armin Brott, better known as "Mr. Dad" is an author of eight books trying to change how our society and the workplace look at men as dads. He believes that there is still too much societal expectation for men to be "tough" resulting in them becoming emotionally removed and unavailable.  As a result, families, workplaces and society as a whole suffer.  I agree completely. 

Leadership at home and at work requires emotional presence.  If we don't allow men to bring this forth, how can workplaces and homes thrive and move beyond where we are today?  Men have to be able to shed some of that armor in order to be connected to those around them.  Ironically, when they do, they become even more influential and can make a bigger impact.  
Here are some things to think about:

Believe and Let Go 
Control is not leadership. Believing in others and guiding them to excellence, is.  When you control, you are controlled by the need to control. You are unable to connect when you attempt to control and fix everything.  When you let go, you can become the leader that is already within you.  Start first by believing in that leader within you and let go.  The first place to address these judgments and expectations that society has on you, is by addressing it first within yourself.  When you start to believe and let go, you give yourself this permission and in turn, help others around you to do the same. 
Be Receptive and Yield
The word receptivity is often attributed to women. Women receive, but men don't.  However, in order to lead, we must first receive.  To receive is to be in a position of guidance.  You can only guide others when you are open enough to receive them and their ideas.  When men start to receive they begin to loosen that burden they carry, and as a result, they become more available and connected to those around them.  This fosters a position of strength that enables growth in you and in others.
Be Vulnerable and Give of Yourself
We all know that the stereotype exists that men don't like to ask for directions. Why?  Because that would mean that they are vulnerable.  Strength comes from stretching yourself to be more and more comfortable with vulnerability.  That stretch develops a resiliency that is necessary for leaders.  The best leaders are those that are vulnerable enough to know that they can be on the bottom of the heap tomorrow.  Those that believe that they are above-the-rest and can't and won't ever tumble... are in a position to break.  Think Bernie.
In summary, when I conducted my research with business professionals and asked them about the leaders who influenced them the most in their lives, 90% said it was a parent.  A mom or a dad.   So, to all of you dads that are leaders and aspiring to better ones each and every day, Happy Father's Day!
Join us June 26, for The Women who Rock are invited too.

Interested in business or life coaching?  Click here for more information:
Don't miss ongoing career tips!  Sign up for Laura's Blog and follow her on twitter:

Laura is a sought-after keynote speaker, award-winning author of The Connected and Committed Leader, and business and life coach who has been featured on the Today Show and Fox News. In addition, her accomplishments have been highlighted in several business periodicals including The Long Beach Business Journal, The Houston Chronicle, Latina Magazine, and Central Valley Business Times. Her articles on management and leadership are regularly seen in Leadership Excellence.