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Leaders, Influence, and Family

Posted on: January 16th, 2012 by Dr. Angela Bisignano

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A week ago I launched my firstborn son. He is now in college. I am so excited for him. Anyone launching children or who has ever done so knows what an important life transition this is for your family. Every major decision I have made over the last 18 years has been influenced by my role as a mother. I am grateful this has been one of my core values; I have no regrets about the choices I have made.

In many ways it can be extremely challenging for leaders to remain faithful to their core values and the people in their lives who matter most.  Getting caught up in the cares and responsibilities of your organization is not hard to do, especially in today’s competitive and economically challenging times.

When was the last time you took inventory of your influence in your family? It’s easy to lose sight of the needs and values of our families when we are focusing much of our efforts on leading other people. Our ability to influence is sometimes not in alignment with our core values. Sometimes our family’s needs don’t get met because we are leading other people (outside) of our families.

Being really clear on what matters most to you will not only help drive your influence in your organization, but it will also help sustain it over time. Start by re-examining your core values. Write them down. What is at the top of your list? For most of us, at the end of the day, the end of our career, ministry, or life, the people who will matter most to us will be our families and dear friends.

If you feel the demands of your career, ministry, or organization creeping up and beginning to infringe on the quality of your family life, the following questions may be helpful. Ask yourself the following:

How am I influencing the lives of my family members?

Would you expect to be encouraged in your positive influence and leadership in their lives? Influence can be powerful and we want to be intentional with how we use ours. We want to regularly ask ourselves: How am I leading and impacting those most important to me? How is my spouse doing? How are my children doing? How would your spouse answer this question about you? How would your children answer this question. You may want to ask them. Their answers may surprise you.

Do I have enough emotional reserves and energy at the end of the day to engage my family?

This may be one of the most important questions we ask ourselves. We may have the potential to have great influence and exercise compelling leadership in an organization, in our ministry, or a community. If, however, we do not have the emotional reserves and energy for having substantial influence on those closest to us, are we doing our families a disservice?

This is a challenging question for many leaders. Yet, if we value our influence in our families we should grapple with this question. If you find yourself doing any of the following on a regular basis at the expense of engaging with your family, you may want to make some adjustments:

  • spending the evening in front of the television
  • returning a multitude of phone calls or emails
  • interacting in social media
  • retreating into your alone space for long periods of time

Are the pressures and demands of your leadership at work impacting your family?

The demands of work can creep up slowly, sometimes catching us off guard. Naturally, a lot of energy goes into our careers and ministries. Often times, the stress and pressures of the job can impact those closest to us. Take time to ask your spouse and children how they perceive the pressures of your job are impacting you. How are the pressures of your job impacting them? They may have a perspective you may not have considered.

How are you doing with balancing the demands of your career or ministry with the emotional needs of your family?