It’s Father’s Day, and while this day doesn’t really hold a candle to Mother’s Day, it is worth reminding yourself what gifts your dad gave you. Mine gave me several: A love of the Detroit Tigers, the absence of the “look back” gene and an ability to make do with what you’ve got immediately come to mind. But perhaps the greatest gift he gave me was an insight into people and the human condition. One day, sort of out of the blue, dad said to me, “Everybody’s got issues.” I don’t remember the context of that comment; it was probably when somebody on the Tigers hit into their 50th double play of the season, but his genius in that moment stuck. Over time, it has become one of the main principles of my leadership style.
Dad’s point was that you have to take people for who they are. The perfect employee, student, parent, Detroit Tiger or you do not exist. If you demand this, you are going to be endlessly disappointed. Recognizing that people are imperfect and always will be is liberating. It allows you to emphasize the positive, coach where you can to improve performance and look for teammates with complementary skill sets that can strengthen the whole.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have performance standards, and there are, of course, people who have too many issues (Noel Gallagher of Oasis fame says this best, “It’s a long road baby and where it’s going to take me, just depends on the weight of my load…”). But if you find a way to work with people, be authentic and allow them to be authentic in their interactions with you, you’ll be surprised how loyal they will become to your leadership and how much you can accomplish together.
So thanks, dad. Enjoy your day. Go Tigers.