By Will Lukang, PMP, MBA, MASCL
Leadership is caring and serving others. Life is about experiences. It is also evolving, as each chapter comes to a close and the next chapter begins. As we go through this journey, we either affect other people or someone touches our life because they cared or loved us. I had a few people that made a difference in my life. My teacher in junior high, she believed in me and encouraged me to try my best and taught me not to let anybody tell me what I can and cannot do. The other person is my father. His action speaks louder than words. I learned by observing him live his life and listening to stories about his past.
Lead by example—My father owns a convenience store. Everyday, he is the first one to arrive at the store at 2:30 a.m. and the last one to leave at 9:00 p.m. He is always there for the people working at our store and he worked alongside them like everyone else.
Treat people with respect—I grew up helping in our store and saw how he treated his employees. He listens to them and values their opinions. He would not ask them to do something that he would not do himself. It does not matter who you are or what you do, he would give you the time and listen to what you have to say. An example is, he would talk to the garbage collector and ask him how he and his family were doing. He spent time to get to know him. As such, he is well liked by everyone.
Working hard and continuously improving your skills—When my father was growing up, his parents did not have the means to send him to school. But he managed to complete six grades. In spite of his background, all three of us sibling went to college. His proudest moment was when we earned our bachelor degrees. He often reminded us of the importance of education and working hard. He once said, “When you work for somebody, no matter how great a job you did, when you leave, they can say you did not do a good job. But no one can take away your education and knowledge.” He stress the importance of continuously improving our skills. Since graduating from college, I have not stopped learning new things. I took what he said to heart and continue my graduate education.
Be a good listener—He always leads with his heart and did what is best for the common good. He is also a good listener. He gives people the benefit of the doubt and is always available when people seek his help. He listens and gives people his undivided attention.
In some respects, as someone makes a difference in our life, we tend to reciprocate and do the same to others. It is interesting to know that what I learned from my father are the characteristics of a leader. When I was growing up, I had no concept of leadership. My father showed me the way and instilled a lot of the lessons that became the fiber of my being. I believed in continuous learning and “sharpening the saw” (Covey, 1991). My hope is that I will be as good a leader as my father was during his time. In the end, I have my father to thank and I hope I will make him proud.