Leadership Insights from a Father of the Bride

Walking my daughter Krista down the aisle at her “storybook” wedding on September 20, 2014 was a highlight of my life. What an honor and privilege to be the father of such a beautiful, powerful and loving woman and to welcome into our family her handsome and kind husband, David. After the “glow” of this memorable moment dimmed a bit, I reflected on what I learned about myself, life and strangely enough, leadership. Here are the lessons I took away from that weekend:

Preparedness – The amount of thoughtful coordination, planning, and rehearsing required to make a wedding a bride’s “dream come true” is pretty amazing and draws upon a team of many. For me, I spent numerous hours reflecting on my daughter, David and our families and the words I would use in my toast to express my love and appreciation for all in attendance. Like leading a team in business, having a strategy with objectives, measurable outcomes, a specific action plan, as well as the required resources is a key to success. Keeping everyone focused on the desired results is the role of the leader.

Flexibility/Agility – Even though you are well prepared and think you’ve thought of everything, things can and will go wrong (not according to the plan) which requires you to be agile-minded and quick on your feet. There were a few small unexpected ‘surprises’ during the wedding weekend that required me and others to be open and flexible in our responses. My dear mother of 87 flew into North Carolina from Michigan with my brother Phil and his loving wife, Beth. Suffering from dementia/Alzheimer’s, mom became disoriented several times over the long weekend, as well as falling down in her hotel room causing great concern for the Spreitzer family and the hotel staff. Needless to say, all of us involved responded to my mom’s “episodes” with swiftness and care while keeping connected to the events of that beautiful weekend. Leaders that demonstrate an ability to “dance in the moment” and shift directions when the situation or circumstances warrant are apt to be more resilient and respected by those they are leading.

Focus Out – As father of the bride, my focus was on serving my daughter, son-in-law, 87 year old mother, my son Bryan, brothers, other family members and friends. There was little time to be thinking about my needs (although there were times I asked myself, “what about me?”) . Effective leaders adopt and display a “servant” mindset with a blended focus on getting results through others while being vigilant about what their team needs to be productive and fulfilled.

Cultivating Relationships – Months ahead of the wedding, I reached out to friends and family to get reconnected and rekindle my relationships so that when we saw each other on the “big day”, the moments shared would be more meaningful. Cultivating relationships on an ongoing basis with team members, suppliers, customers, one’s professional network, etc. is a hallmark of leadership excellence. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Authenticity – Sharing myself in a heartfelt and genuine way was important in making a difference for others during that wonderful weekend. From telling stories, listening generously, hugging, laughing, shedding a tear, and delivering the toast, it all started with my heart. Respected and admired leaders are those that lead authentically, that show up with their egos in check and a willingness to be fully human, even vulnerable. My experience of some of the best leaders I worked with were those that were easy to relate to and that understood me at a deeper level.

I will always remember that glorious, sunny and warm September day when I got the chance to be my best for Krista and David – to be the leader of my family when it mattered most. Come to think of it, every moment matters to leaders whom are mindful of the “shadow” they cast for others.