19 Jun

12 Leadership Lessons from Dad to Help Me Play a Bigger Game

Roy Fisher

My dad attended seminary at Columbia University at a time when many of the great theologians of the 20th century emerged. Later on, as a minister in charge of his own large congregation, he was a rather prominent public figure in town and was continually under the spotlight. No matter where I went there was always someone who knew my dad. But whether he was caring for the sick and the poor, celebrating a wedding ceremony, presiding over a funeral, or delivering an inspirational message from the pulpit – Dad always had enormous compassion and the ability to comfort and inspire.

Here are a dozen important lessons I was taught as gifts from my father:

  1. Treat everyone fairly and respect their dignity, regardless of their station in life.
  2. Trust people.
  3. Be friendly and cordial.
  4. Laugh often, especially at yourself.
  5. Lead by setting an example.
  6. Be always prepared for the unexpected.
  7. Do not accept mediocrity from others but challenge them to perform.
  8. Always be honorable and above reproach.
  9. Don’t complain, but always act as if you have the best job in the world.
  10. Make time for serving others in your community.
  11. Create a network of influential but reliable people.
  12. Expect and accept that what you value in life will naturally change as you grow and mature.

At his retirement dinner from active ministry Dad gave a speech I’ll never forget. He said, “People keep asking me if I had it to do over again, would I still have been a Methodist minister all of these years?” Then he pumped his fist in the air and declared emphatically, “You bet I would!”

My father showed such wonderful passion and commitment throughout his entire life, and Father’s Day is a great opportunity to remember beloved dads. But it’s also a good time to pause and reflect upon everyone who has helped to push you gently into your discomfort zone while setting a personal example of how to overcome setbacks and disappointments. Those are the genuine leaders and guides who help us to keep chasing our goals and dreams, even in the face of challenges and adversity.

Remember those who have shared their gifts of leadership and guidance with you, and ponder the lessons they imparted along the way. Then take a moment to share those with someone else who will also find them valuable. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness and help, and generous gestures are what leaving your own memorable leadership legacy is all about.

So who were your major inspirational role models and influencers, and what did they teach? I’d love to hear from you so that I can pass those lessons along to others while benefiting from them myself.


As a pioneering and visionary innovator, Sarah is a certified professional image consultant and brand strategist, speaker, trainer and author. Her company, Illustra Consulting, provides leading-edge image and brand management strategies for top leaders and high achievers who wish to take their career to the next level. She also delivers innovative and inspiring corporate workshops to assist large organizations in strengthening their corporate brand.

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Sarah Hathorn
Sarah Hathorn, CEO of Hathorn Consulting Group, is the go-to-expert in working with leaders and companies to create successful corporate DNA. As an executive coach, consultant and speaker she collaborates globally with clients and brands such as Kimberly-Clark, Sherwin-Williams, Home Depot and other leading organizations.
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