Over the last several years since I re-engaged as CEO of my family, I’ve shared about our family’s success with many dads who are business owners and leaders. Unfortunately, what I often hear are sad tales of fathers who’ve given up or checked out. “I let my wife take care of family stuff,” is a line I hear often.
I get it. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to feel helpless and frustrated about the chaos at home. But one thing I have learned the hard way, dads: some things can’t be delegated.
We know some things can’t be delegated in the business world. By law, the CFO or CEO can’t delegate responsibility for the financial statements of a publicly traded company.
Small business owners may be able to delegate more, but we can’t disappear completely and hope everything will turn out ok. It doesn’t work that way in business.
And it doesn’t work that way in our families.
Fathers Need to Lead at Home
In the same way that a CFO, CEO, or business owner is ultimately responsible for the health of a business, fathers are responsible for the health of a family. I know some people may take offense (though none is intended) when I stress the importance of a father’s leadership in the home, but experience and data backs up my point.
Across every measurable category, children struggle when fathers are absent. A lot of fathers in business are physically present but not engaged in guiding their family or their children’s development. They’ve resigned themselves to letting their wives do it or, worse, letting their children run the home.
My faith tradition teaches me that fathers have a unique responsibility in the home and are created to complement a mother’s strengths. When they work together, they produce the optimal environment for rearing healthy children. But you don’t have to share my faith to recognize the obvious: families are healthier when fathers engage and lead.
Of course, life doesn’t always work out the way we want. If you’re a single parent, you have nothing but my deepest admiration for the job you do every day. I’ve been where you are before also.
My concern is that many wives of successful business leaders feel like single mothers because their husbands lack the confidence and clarity to engage and lead their family–in spite of having significant success in business.
Fathers, let me be crystal clear: your responsibility to lead your family is the one thing you cannot delegate.
No matter how chaotic your family life feels. Even if you can’t seem to make sense of the raging hormones you encounter at home. Even if you feel like the least-qualified person to deal with the hundreds of decisions that paralyze you the moment you walk in the door.
I’ve been there, believe me. For years, I tried to travel as much as possible so I could avoid dealing with the chaos. But my absence only made things worse. Even when I ignored the issues, I was still responsible for the outcome.
Why Your Family Needs You to Lead
If you are a father who has pulled back, hoping someone else will do your job, here are 3 reasons you need to engage:
- Your children need you to lead. Study after study confirms what each of us already know—children do better when fathers are engaged in their lives. You probably already know quite a bit about developing people as part of your business success story. The same principles that work in business to empower people to thrive also work in the home to help your children be the best they can be.
- Your wife needs you to lead. When we push our responsibility as fathers onto our wives, we overload them. It’s not a question of a woman’s capabilities. I know some exceptional business leaders who are women. But none of them want the full responsibility for leading a family dumped on them when their husband is perfectly capable of leading well at work. It’s your joint legacy being shaped in parenting your children. Why wouldn’t you want to influence outcome of it at least as much as you influence the direction of your business?
- You need to lead. If you are at all like I was a few years ago, you want the fulfillment that comes from leading your family to a better place, but you’ve given up trying. You’ve resigned yourself to parenting failure as your new normal. You’re not happy about it, but you think you have no other options. Think about how that feeling of failure has affected you and the relationships that matter most. Wouldn’t you like to make a change? You can. That’s why I launched this site, to help business leaders apply what you already know from your business success to lead your family to a better, healthier place.
By failing to fully engage as a father and leader in your home, you are choosing to walk away from the most fulfilling success you may ever know. Your family just may be the most valuable business you will ever own.
If you need to make some changes, I encourage you to start by downloading my free eBook Win at Home like You Win at Work using the subscription option to the right or at the bottom of this post.
If you think you could use more intentional guidance, I do offer coaching on a limited basis to those fathers who are serious about turning their family around by applying what they already know from business. If you’re interested, just send me a note and we’ll talk.
Some things can’t be delegated, dads – no matter how much you may want to sometimes.
It’s up to you to step up for your family and lead.
Question: As a father in business, what is the greatest challenge you face as parent? You can share your thoughts by clicking here.