What Does A Good Leader Look Like in a Relationship?

“In any relationship, the leader must convince those following him to follow him by being a leader worth following”.

−Joseph Binning

As a man you were born a leader by nature. You are a hunter and gather by birth. You cannot change that, nor can you escape that. A mighty warrior called to leave a mark on the world by leaving the best piece of you behind and sacrifice everything to accomplish that mission. You have been tasked to fend off all things that will bring harm or ill will to you and yours. At all costs. But your greatest enemy is you.

There is an old Indian tale of a Grandfather sitting around the fire with his Grandson telling him of the two wolves that live withing every man and are constantly at war with each other.

One wolf is a dark soul, vicious, evil, wicked, hateful, spiteful, full of ego and envy, who wreaks havoc and destruction to everyone and everything he encounters. He is selfish and mean to others. He only cares for himself. He lives to hurt you. He has no feelings.

The other is a wolf of the light. He is kind, but he is not weak. Strong, yet gentle. Mighty, but humble. We respect him because he is respectable. He listens first, and he judges not. He strives to be the best for him, for you. He leads by example and forgives easily.

The Grandson asks the Grandfather “Grandfather, which wolf wins the war?”. To which the Grandfather replies” whichever one you feed the most”.

As men, it’s during our upbringing that we develop, or don’t, the skills and confidence to lead. Knowing what to do is easy, you just ask someone who is a successful leader in your inner circle. Finding information is easy. It is finding the will to change your life that’s difficult.

Asking for help is one of the most difficult things any man can do. That’s why we don’t ask for directions and drive around for hours or go to the store across town and come home with the wrong item. We don’t ask because we don’t want to seem dumb or incapable.

I once had a coworker who I assigned a task to. In my mind, it was a relatively simple task. I explained it to him in detail, asked him if he understood what it was, I wanted to which he said, yes. I left him with the task and went onto my merry way. Not five minutes later I could hear him cussing across the room, so I went to see what was happening. He informed me he didn’t understand what I had said but did not ask for clarification. When I asked him why he didn’t ask for clarification he replied, “Because I didn’t want to look stupid”.

That how we are as men. When we don’t understand something and don’t ask for clarification, we usually wind up looking stupid. How often has your wife said something that you didn’t understand and didn’t ask for clarification on that you wound up looking stupid over? My guess is more than once.

A very dear friend of mine gave me some much-headed advice. He said, “in any relationship someone will misunderstand you, or you will misunderstand. The trick is to figure out which one it is”.

We don’t ask because we don’t want to look stupid, and yet we wind up looking stupid.

 

Being a leader of your family is one of the greatest responsibilities you will ever have. Here are some examples of what an outstanding leader looks like that we will dig into to help you become one (I’m not giving up on you so keep going).

Listen Intending to Hear

You have two ears and only one mouth. Listen twice as much as you speak. When you listen, listen. Men think of what to say next and miss what is being said. Stop it.

Make Eye Contact

When you are speaking with your wife or your children make eye contact. Look them straight into the eyes and don’t look away. Direct eye contact is the surest way to let someone know that you have their full attention and that what they have to say is important to you. This also builds trust.

Be Present

Work will always be there. Social media is not being social. Sports are just games. As men we are task orientated. We fall into this trap that work is necessary to buy what’s needed for your wife or the family. What she and they really want is you, all of you.

Make an Effort

Pick up the vacuum, wash the dishes, bath the kids, make dinner plans, and surprise her with it, arrange a babysitter, show up at her work with flowers just because, just get off the couch! Do it without being asked. Showing her, you see her; you value her, showing her, you appreciate her will pay dividends for days, weeks, months, even years if done right. Do it with no expectations because any act of kindness with an expectation is not a gift, it’s a bribe.

Make Decisions

The biggest complaint I hear from women is that they must make all the decisions in the relationship. Everything from where you eat to what the kids wear. The male ego stops us from deciding because of the false premise that we don’t want to look stupid by making the wrong decision. You make wrong decisions every day, at work, on the road to work, etc. decide, own it, and live with it. It gets easier as you go.

Stay Humble

As we get older, we lose a step. There is nothing worse than an ego-driven male who thinks he is all that and a bag of chips but doesn’t know he isn’t. Allow others to receive credit. Give credit where credit is due. Say thank you. Give people a break. Show her you can rise above every situation without needing to receive the credit. Leaders, genuine leaders, take the brunt of the failure, yet give credit to others for the success. And remember, your child’s accomplishments are their accomplishments and have nothing to do with you.

Communicate

Communication creates intimacy in any relationship. Intimacy creates trust. Turn off the TV, turn to her and ask her how her day was. Then shut up and listen. When she has a problem, take you Mr. Fix-it hat off, ask her what’s wrong, and just listen. Stop offering advice unless she asks for it. Women value being heard, so hear what she has to say. Digest it. She’s not attacking you; she’s venting. Let her. Be her safe place that she can go to when she’s feeling hurt, sad, worried, or scared.

Give her Security

Storms in life will come, you can count on it. When they do, she needs to feel secure in you, in the us in the we of your relationships. Men are rational creatures; women are emotional creatures. They created us that way. It’s the perfect balance. When the emotional storms in life have her down, she needs a solid, safe harbor in you. Too many men today crumble when things get tough. Be strong, but gentle. Mighty, but humble. Listen first, speak second. Assure her it will be all right and do whatever it takes to help her.

Cherish Her

Sadly, most men take better care of their cars than they do their relationships. Women need to feel cherished. They need to have their light recharged. Don’t tell her only but show her. Show her in your actions, then tell her in your words, with random acts of kindness. It will make her feel more valuable than anything in the world to you.

Lead by Example

A leader who gets to the top of the hill and is alone is not a leader. He was just a man on a walk. To lead a family, you must convince them to follow you. To convince them, they must trust you. They will learn to trust you by seeing you consistently acting a certain way. If you want people in your family to be kind, be kind. If you want people to be forgiving in your family, be forgiving. If you want people to live a life of integrity, live a life of integrity. Do it because it’s for the right reason. Don’t expect a reward, a trophy, big kudos. Let them learn through osmosis. They will model your example.

Be the Leader, not the Boss

Often, as men, we can become the bully who acts like a boss. A boss has demands. My way or the highway. This will not create admiration, devotion, loyalty, or respect. It only breeds contempt. A leader must convince those who he leads to follow. He must have a plan. He must share the plan with those who he leads. And we must have buy in from those who we lead. Each person must have a say in the plan. People will do things better, more eagerly, and with more enthusiasm if they have buy in. People must believe in the leader first, and the cause second.

How to Ask for Advice

Advice is easy to get. Just ask the guy who is just as miserable as you are standing next to you and he will tell you exactly what to do. The problem with that is he doesn’t know either. So, what’s a guy to do?

Advice on your relationship must only come from another man unless the advice is coming from a professional counselor in a professional setting, meaning you are paying for the advice. If you violate this rule, you stand the chance of allowing the “appearance of inappropriate behavior” in your relationship. The easiest way to cause your partner to not trust you is to share private moments with another woman outside of a professional setting.

The opposite is also true for her. Women should not share private moments with another man for the same reasons, but that’s another book.

 

The best advice I ever received was on how to discern excellent advice from terrible advice for getting advice on my relationships. There are six levels of accomplishment in any man’s life that must be in excellent condition for me to heed his advice. Here is what they are.

  1. His Relationship Must be Rock Solid

The way to verify this is to look at his wife and how she responds to him in public when no one is watching. Some couples have grown accustom to putting on a “face” in public for all to see and let down their guard when no one is looking. If his wife is showing she is deeply in Love and has that “that’s my man” face on’ his advice on relationships is worth listening to. Remember, just because they have married for a long time is not the only or major area of credibility in his advice. I know couples who have been together for an exceptionally long time and are just roommates.

 

  1. His Finances Must be in Good Order

The number two cause for divorce today, according to Marriage.com, is money.[1] Next to infidelity, money issues are the number one cause for relationships falling apart. Ill give you a hint, it’s not from having too much money and fighting over where to spend it. It comes from having less than your lifestyle requires. The delicate balance of living within your means, for some, can be one of the greatest challenges you will face as a couple. Having a strong financial plan, and sticking to it, will ensure your survival as a couple, so the advice you are given must be from someone who has figured this out and sticks to the plan.

 

  1. His Kids Need to be Good People

Children reflect the values we raise them in. If two people have children and have little or no time to guide them into becoming the person, we destine them to be, the result is usually less than favorable for the future of some children. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics[2] parents spend 2.14 hours per day caring for and helping children in the household. When you consider an average day starting at 6:00 AM and ending between 7:00-9:00 PM which is between thirteen and fifteen hours in the average day 2.14 hours isn’t a lot of time to help shape the development of the child. Any father who makes his children a priority shows that his advice is worth listening to.

 

  1. His Home Must Be in Order

As humans, we all struggle with taking the path of least resistance. It is our nature. When I visit someone’s home and I see it is in disarray, weeds everywhere, clothes on the floor in piles, dishes piled up everywhere, it shows slothfulness. I’m not saying you must have everything perfect, but I am saying you must have everything clean. Children model what they grow up in as they develop. As men we are responsible for the home. It is our job to choose the right home for our family situation. If it’s too big to take care of because of life’s requirements, it is our responsibility the change it to something that is manageable.

 

  1. His Faith Must Be in Order

Any man who claims he is a man of faith must prove it by his actions, not only his words. Many people seek advice from friends of their faith concerning their relationships. I once had a neighbor who hosted couples bible studies who I admired for it until one day I worked with him. During work hours it was impossible to distinguish him from any other foul-mouthed man. If you are taking advice from a man of faith, he must walk the talk, not just talk the talk. Especially when no one is looking.

 

  1. He Must Be Involved with The Community

A leader worth following is a leader worth listening to. Leaders give back. They get involved as a way of showing gratitude for the blessing they receive. They see needs and they fill it. Im not talking about being a little league coach, although that is very admirable. Being involved without having a personal stake in it, say promoting my child to achieve something I never did as a child for personal reasons, is a quality that is worth admiring. The best examples are those men who get involved and involve their entire family because they teach them the importance of giving back.

 

As i said earlier, they must meet all six categories for the advice to be worth following. The worst advice is poor advice. Holding those we listen to higher standards will raise our own standards and cause us to rise higher as we lead our families.

[1] 10 Most Common Reasons for Divorce/ Shellie Warren/ Updated: 8 Jun, 2020/Marriage.com/accessed 08/18/2020/ https://www.marriage.com/advice/divorce/10-most-common-reasons-for-divorce/https://www.marriage.com/advice/divorce/10-most-common-reasons-for-divorce/

[2] Average hours per day parents spent caring for and helping household children as their main activity/ U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics/accessed 08/18/2020/ https://www.bls.gov/charts/american-time-use/activity-by-parent.htm https://www.bls.gov/charts/american-time-use/activity-by-parent.htm

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