Follow the Leaders
Earlier this month, I travelled to Texas to help my sister sort through my dad’s stuff. He passed away in April, having lived a long and fruitful life. As we sorted through pictures and letters, I envisioned the arc of his long and interesting life. I marveled at how much of him was in me.
One of the powerful influences he (and mom) had on me was a love of learning. Doing well in school and going to college was never a stated expectation. It just was. Mom and Dad supported me and my siblings through college, paying the way and cheering us on.
Back to Dad’s stuff. One of the few things I brought home with me was his college ring. Class of 1958, University of Texas, with a huge longhorn on the side and his fraternity letters on the stone. I really cannot remember him not having it on his right hand. I do remember the stories of his college days that I associate with that ring.
Now I realize that this artifact, this symbol, was part of the unstated expectation that he had for me. You will go to college, build meaningful lifelong relationships, and go forth into the world and do good. He never needed to say it, I saw it on his hand every day.
What are the things in our businesses and lives that speak to our employees, customers and community? What do these things say to people?
For years, we have given engraved baseball bats to speakers and key volunteers to recognize their contributions. I see them in photos from events, and in the offices of the recipients. I hope they communicate appreciation, that the person “hit a home run” for us, and that we regard them as a heavy hitter.
You probably have symbols and artifacts in your business. These objects can be a powerful part of your culture and how you communicate it. A reminder to stay the course, if you will.
I’ve chosen to wear my father’s class ring now. In a way, the large, heavy piece of jewelry with the chipped stone conjures up the spirit of the man who shaped me. I’m a better leader because of him.
Take a minute to think about the objects in your business and your life that offer direction and meaning. I bet you will come up with some good ones. Please share them in the comments!