Lesson from my Dad – Leaders know how to patiently listen

Posted: August 15, 2012 by Keith Townsend in Lessons from dad

My brother reminded me of an event in his life that made me again admire an attribute of my dad – his ability to be truly interested in all that we do.

As the story goes, my brother had to be in 1st grade when he came home from school and was really excited.  He had learned to count to some obscene number.  Let’s say 100.  He told my father the great news and asked if he could  listen while he showed him.  Now my dad worked hard.  I mean not the type of “hard” work that I do but truly hard.  My brother recalled how he sat there patiently as he counted to 100 after my dad had been  fueling jets all day in one of the harshest environments you can conceptualize.

It reminded me of how I’d describe in detail how I solved some infinite loop problem I had in some application I was writing. Or how I created some killer subroutine so it would make future programs easier to write.  My dad had no clue of what I was talking about but he would sit there patiently and try to understand but more importantly listen.  I’m not talking the passive listening that I’ve mastered over the years.  He truly was vested in what I had to say.

As both a parent and a leader this has taught me to listen to the people that I lead.  It means more to them than I sometimes realize.  The fact that I have a vested interest in the desires and victories helps to inspire just as my dad did for me and my brothers.

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