It was a good day. I was in the beginning of my career. My first job out of college and I had received a few promotions already. I was on my way to another one that would define my time with that company but I was unaware of what was coming. I was riding with my boss. We had been out visiting various clients on sales calls. We were just about back to my office when he looked at me and said, "that's what I love about you Buck. You've got vision."
"No I don't" was the immediate response that came up inside of me. No one had ever told me that. And I certainly didn't think about myself as a great visionary leader. Here was a man that I looked up to, not just my boss but a friend and a mentor. A respected leader. He was sitting next to me calling out a significant gift in my life and I had no idea how to handle it.
I don't even remember what I said in response to his praise that day. But his comment stuck with me. My career began to take off a few months later. The one office that I was leading performed well and I ended up taking a promotion to manage 5 stores. Our team did well and I found myself making a lot of money and loving my role of leading the region that I had been entrusted with.
In the midst of the success we had I would sometimes look back on my career and think about how it had unfolded. I'm not sure when it happened but at some point I realized that day in my bosses SUV on a sales calls had been a pivotal moment in my career. I obviously didn't realize it at the time but it meant a ton to me. No man had ever looked me in the eyes and spoken to me that way before. He very simply called out what he saw and it was on target. Even though I didn't see it myself at the time- it didn't matter. It began to manifest in my life. I did have vision and as I shared it with the team that I was leading it dramatically impacted our goals and then our performance. We went on to set lots of sales records while growing, excelling at customer service and developing and promoting our young leaders into new opportunities in our region and beyond.
As I work with business leaders now I often share that story as an example of fathering in the marketplace. It was simple. Calling out a gift that was obvious to him. Bringing encouragement. Helping to establish my identity as a leader. This is what a father does. This is what the emerging generation needs. They are looking for those who will father them into the leaders that they have been created to be. It is not the easiest way to lead but I believe that the Father finds great joy in us when we step into this. Some of us have been fortunate enough to have one or two leaders in our lives who have impacted us in this way. What would the world look like if we were intentional about carrying this approach to leadership into our lives every day? Here's to a 2015 of sowing seeds that will produce the answers to that question over the course of the next generation.