A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of walking my daughter down the aisle. While I have orchestrated many events over the years – and certainly have been to my share of weddings – I had only watched others share that special day with their son or daughter. I didn’t pay too much attention to the many details that parents get involved with in planning their child’s dream wedding.
After almost a year of planning, we celebrated my daughter Sara’s marriage to a really great guy and the joining of our two families. This journey reminded me of four lessons that we can apply to leadership:
- The “boss” may not be who you think it is.
In business, my experience has been the person who is writing the check is typically the one that needs to be convinced – either by a person with influence (which my daughter definitely has with me) or directly by the service provider. Business decisions generally are less emotional, but this wedding thing played by a whole different set of rules and guidelines. I might have held the checkbook and by definition, was the boss, but in the end, I’m pretty sure my daughter was ultimately in charge.
- Legacy traditions have become more collaborative.
Weddings are less traditional than they used to be. The expectation is no longer that the bride’s family pays for the wedding and the groom’s family for the festivities the evening before. Like in business, weddings have become more of a collaboration, both in terms of payment and planning. This partnership delivers a better outcome all around. As the father of the bride, I’m really in favor of this new tradition.
- Develop a shared vision.
Whether it’s planning a wedding or implementing a new ERP system, they are both significant projects that require a shared vision for the outcome. I enjoyed watching my daughter’s personality come out as she shared her “dreams” for her wedding day. Even though I didn’t always agree with every idea and concept, I was determined to help her accomplish her dream. Through some element of compromise, we were able to accomplish a shared vision that resulted in a great event that I fully supported. I certainly consider Sara’s wedding day to be one of the best days of my life and I know she did too.
- Managing your emotions.
When it comes to business, I’m pretty good at not letting my emotions come into play. But when it came to my daughter’s wedding, I anticipated it could be a different story. For example, when she asked me to pick out the song for the father/daughter dance, I had a couple of songs in mind that have always reminded me of her. I first thought of “Butterfly Kisses,” which reminded me of our trips back and forth to her gymnastic meets. But when I played the video on YouTube to see if it was something we could dance to, I found it to be way too emotional. Then, I thought maybe “I Loved Her First” would be a better choice. It wasn’t. We settled on “What a Wonderful World.” In addition to the planning for the song, of course there’s the beautiful dress and walking down the aisle together. Mentally I was planning and preparing for all of these emotional moments. In business, I also use preparation and planning as a way to diffuse the potential emotion of a situation. Because I experienced the emotion at the front-end of the process, I was able to fully enjoy the day.
The wedding day was perfect by all accounts. I enjoyed seeing my daughter so happy and reuniting with so many friends and family. The good news is I get to apply these lessons again when our son Ryan gets married in July.