“Daddy Look at me”​, A Lesson on Leadership from a son

Covid Accelerated Digital Transformation is a real thing. To many parents, it has come with mixed bag of goodies (as my son calls the candy jar at his grandma’s house) and not so goodies. For me, it has provided me an opportunity to work alongside my son Mich from time to time giving us a rare but most rewarding mid week opportunity to bond even more.

As an individual there are a few responsibilities that I take more seriously as that of being a father, in fact the only one that tops that is being a husband. In my daily interactions with my son, I am always keen to pass some nuggets of wisdom to him through my actions but more so, I am also keen to learn from him. In my role, I lead a team of Technology Sales experts who quite frankly know their stuff (replace with the other S word).

However, from time to time I see that myself as a team member and even them or any team for that matter even that full of people who know their stuff, and more so in the knowledge industry take a queue from Mich.

A father said to his son: Be careful where you walk. The son responded: You be careful for remember that I follow your footsteps!

As the leader, my role is not only to tell the team what we need to achieve and get out of their way so they can do it, but also to coach and mentor them as I also learn from them and they from me so they can take on tougher challenges and “do it themselves” and also look at them in admiration, cheer and reward them through recognition of their work and progress.

Daddy I want to do it myself

My son has learned so many things over the four years or so that he has been on planet earth, one of those that he is proud of is being able to ride his bike. I remember when we started, I used to hold the bike for him to get on and also as he steadily rode it down the foot path with me holding it from the back and ensuring he is steady. I remember so many times after we had done some training and the training wheels were off, Mich would always shout “Daddy, I want to do myself” signaling me that he felt confident and I should get out of his way having done my part in giving him the vision.

“Tell people what you need, NOT what to do. Then get out of their way”

Same applies to us as Leaders, more often than not we are tempted to micromanage and hang over our teams or people and a good number of them are always crying to us “I want to do it myself”. So as leaders, your role is not to do the job or work for your team at the slightest sign of trouble, it is to give them the tools – training, enablement, technology, et.al that they need and then get out of their way so they can do it!

Daddy Look at me

After giving the team tools, it is important to look at them excel.

Every time Mich mastered or masters a trick (even with his scooter) his next yell is always “Daddy, Look at me”, this is not the look at me of correct me or find fault, it is look at me with admiration and pride, it is showing me that as a father, I have succeeded in enabling him master the next trick and that in addition to him being proud of it, he is looking for affirmation and approval and recognition of his progress.

 “Focus on progress, not perfection.

As leaders, when our teams excel, it is our duty to recognize and look at them. So the next time your team member does something awesome, do not hesitate to give that praise. Take a moment and realize that AWESOME ends with ME and remember they need you to “look at me” .

Bringing it All together

Just like a Father, who’s role is to be a coach and the number one cheerleader to his children, as a leader, you have the duty to those in your charge to coach them and get out of their way but most importantly to cheerlead them and catch them doing something good. Remember this, if you look for the good in people, you will always find it.

“When we tell people to do their jobs, we get workers. When we trust people to get the job done, we get leaders.”

As always, I am just a man. We keep learning.


Ouko Joseph is a Husband, Father, Son and a Leader in the making. A passionate student of leadership. Read more here

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s