Happy Father’s Day!

I’d like to wish all the fathers out there a happy Father’s Day. And if you’re not a father, then a happy Father’s Day to your father.

Since leadership is a prime component of lean success, it belongs on this blog as much as any topic. Research demonstrates that our parents are still the primary influence on our character as we grow up. So in honor of that, I thought I would ask this question of all of you:

What did your father teach you about leadership?

I could go on for this subject for quite a while, but I will share two specific traits that my father demonstrated by example. One was ethics. It was very clear that there is no such thing as business ethics or situational ethics; there is just ethics. You either do what’s right or you don’t – period. You can’t cheat a little on your taxes just because everyone else does (some statistics show that more than half of us do) or lie a little just because you won’t have to work with the person again. Ethics are the cornerstone of your relationship to the rest of society. The other thing he taught me was responsibility. My father was president of Weldon Machine Tool for 25 years. Responsibility is an easy word, but is only tested in the toughest of times. When Weldon had a bad year, he sacrificed his salary so that the company and the employees could continue on.

There is an interesting book called the 100 Mile Walk which is about a father and son who went on long walks to iron out their collective thoughts, and differences, on leadership. It also taught them a lot about each other. I actually have not read it yet, but plan to buy it and read it. It was reviewed this week in Business Week (which you need to subscribe to to read). Here’s a segment:

The six months of strolling and hiking in 2004 resulted in a book, The 100-Mile Walk: A Father and Son on a Quest to Find the Essence of Leadership, published in January. It also smoothed out their relationship. Sander owned up to making “a lot of mistakes” with his family. “I learned a lot about myself from Jon,” he says. “I’m sorry I didn’t do it earlier.” Jonathon came to understand his father’s ambition, his constant talk of being best in class. “Before, they were just words,” says Jonathon. “He convinced me of the heart of it, what it can mean for a group of people to know they’ve done their best.”

Post continues after ad...
Post continues after ad...

If you are interested in the book, you can check it out here:


Please post a comment and join the discussion. Subscribe to get notified about posts daily or weekly.

Jamie Flinchbaugh is a lean advisor, speaker, and author. In addition to co-founding the Lean Learning Center, he has helped build nearly 20 companies as either a co-founder, board member, advisor, or angel investor. These companies range from high-performance motorcycles to SaaS tools for continuous improvement. He has advised over 300 companies around the world in lean transformation, including Intel, Harley-Davidson, Crayola, BMW, and Amazon. Jamie co-authored the popular book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean, and continues to share his experiences as a Contributing Editor forIndustryWeek and as a blogger at JamieFlinchbaugh.com. He holds degrees from Lehigh University, University of Michigan, and MIT, and continues to teach and mentor on campus. Jamie is best known for helping to transform how we think about lean from a tools-centric model to one based on principles and behaviors. His passion for lean transformation comes from seeking to unlock the great potential that people possess to build inspiring organizations.

You might also like More from author


  1. Mark Graban says

    Jamie, thank you such a timely and thoughtful post for father’s day. My dad and his dad are spending the day together in Ohio, I wish I could be with them. Happy Fathers Day to everyone.

  2. 2006 Commencement Leadership Lessons | Lean Blog

    […] is about a journey, and it requires leadership. If you can not teach, you can not lead. On Father’s Day I mentioned the spirit of learning from our fathers important lessons on leadership. Although a […]

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.