When Brian Sullivan, our Lead Dad of the Week, took on management roles at Mastercard and later Charter Communications he had a go-to phrase: “Leading by caring”.
He told it to the people he managed and later to the people he promoted into management roles. The phrase came to him as he was thinking about what kind of dad he was being to his son.
“I felt like I was an okay dad, but I wasn’t a great one,” Brian said, when his only child was 7 or 8. “My son was getting to an age where I thought I could really be impactful in his life. I came up with a mantra – leading by caring. I think it applies wherever you go in your life, whether professionally, personally or within families.”
That was over a decade ago, but it worked. His son found a passion – earning the Eagle Scout honor as a Boy Scout – and the people Brian worked with embraced the phrase.
“People were put off by it at first,” he said. “If you go from a traditional corporate culture where you just pass each other in the hallway they don’t know what to make of it.”
“But I’ve heard from people I’ve promoted who are now team leaders that they’re using it,” he said. “I find it really works – connect with your team personally, spend time with them, tell them things that you need to improve.”
What went into applying leading by caring at home and at work? A lot of planning and negotiating.
“My wife and I made it a point to plan around our son,” he said. His wife worked for her family’s marble business.
“It was a juggle to be there. It always required a little bit of negotiation with my bosses. My wife reports to her mother so that was an easy sell! I found it all to be worth it.”
Fifteen years later, Brian continues to press ‘leading by caring’. We commend him – and embrace the mantra. It’s a pleasure to welcome, Brian, to The Company of Dads!