A Sometimes Thankless Job

“Thanks Dad. The party was cool.” –Birthday cake Amanda Wright
(OK, maybe she didn’t actually say this, but I’m sure she thought it) 😉
This past weekend was my daughter’s 13th birthday party.  She and four of her best friends celebrated their ‘coming of age’ with a huge birthday bash for 100 of their closest friends.  Forget the traditional parties where you have 8 to 10 of your closest friends over for cake and a magic show with Bozo the Clown.  This is something entirely different.

So, as the trend goes (at least in the area of Houston we live in), throughout their 7th grade school year the girls and guys pack up in groups of 3-5 and host ‘13th Birthday’ parties for almost their entire grade level.   The parents hire a DJ, rent out the local community or recreation center, and decorate like there’s no tomorrow.  All for three hours of 13-year-old ‘partying’.

There is a tremendous amount of preparation that goes into these parties.  For Amanda and her friends’ party, we parents spent considerable time and energy making sure it was a hit.  For my part, I spent all day Saturday setting up tents, hanging lights, taping ribbon, and making numerous trips to the hardware and grocery store, all so that everything would be perfect for the girls’ birthday bash.  Then Sunday, it was another half-day of tear down, clean up, and returning rented equipment.  To say it was a busy weekend would be an understatement.  Today I am sore, tired, and sunburned.

But it was all worth it to see my daughter and her four friends—the center of the party—basking in their moment of glory.  The decorations were perfect.  The attendance was huge.  The DJ played all the right music.  And the kids were all well behaved (OK, that’s a bit of a stretch, but they weren’t too rambunctious).  And while she didn’t say it, I just know my daughter was thinking, “Thanks Dad, the party was cool.”  Right?  (At least I’m holding on to that thought).

You’ve often heard me mention how leadership should mirror life.  Here is another great example.  As leaders we have an obligation to position those who work for us and those we work with for success – be they our own direct reports, our team mates, our customers, or our key suppliers.  That should be our primary mission:  Invest time in preparation.  Work diligently for everything to be ‘perfect’.  Create an environment where those we work for and with can be successful.   And when that moment comes, step aside and let them enjoy the moment.  It takes work.  It takes effort.  And sometimes it’s a thankless job.

How do you lead?  Do you work tirelessly to position your team for success?  Do you invest countless hours in preparation for that moment?  And when that moment comes, do you step back and let them shine?  That is the mark of a good leader.

And even if they don’t say it, they appreciate it!

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