Every Father’s Day, I think about what a gift it is to have the privilege of being the father to someone as amazing as my daughter, Brittany (pictured, right). Time has certainly flown by! A few years ago, Brittany joined PAM Health full-time and now serves as division president and associate general counsel. Admittedly, I’m biased, but I’m incredibly proud of the person she has become. When Brittany was growing up, my wife Cathy and I did our best to help her in any way we could. We instilled in her a set of values, work ethic, and humility. As I saw her grow and mature, I knew she could be successful in anything she set her mind to do. However, I also knew that Cathy and I needed to give her the space to be her own person, make mistakes, and learn valuable life lessons.
Parenting and running a business are different in many ways, but strikingly similar in others. Both are complicated and ever-changing, but also satisfying and worth every minute. Much of my advice to new parents could also be of use to those in leadership positions, and it is this:
- Be involved — but not too involved. When it comes to raising kids, empirical data shows that when parents are actively involved in their children’s lives, those children have better school attendance, social skills, and behavior. But it’s a fine line – you want to be involved, but not too involved. Don’t be a helicopter parent! Don’t hover! Step up with support when appropriate. Let them figure things out at a cautious distance, but be ready to get involved when asked or needed.
- Encourage them to follow their dreams and do what you can to make it possible. After high school, Brittany chose to attend Penn State University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism with a minor in health policy and administration. She then graduated from Widener University Commonwealth Law School and passed the Pennsylvania Bar Exam. Over the summers, we always encouraged Brittany to work. Some summers she interned at PAM Health, learned different aspects of the business, and met people throughout the organization. She also gained valuable experience with other internships, including one at the White House. Although I would have supported her wherever she went and in whatever field of study she pursued, I knew that her degrees and work experience would give her versatility and options as to what she wanted to do in life.
- Practice open, honest, and in-person communication. I have always found that when you take the time to get to know people and talk to them one-on-one, the relationship gets stronger. When you listen, you learn. That’s true with your spouse, your children, and the people you work with. I believe in management by walking around and visit the hospitals whenever I can. When I’m there, I enjoy meeting employees and patients. I take the same approach with my interpersonal relationships, including with my daughter. Brittany knows that she can come and talk to me about whatever is on her mind, and I will listen and offer advice when appropriate.
- Never get too high with your success or too low with failure. This is probably one of the hardest life lessons to teach and to learn. Sports can provide valuable lessons in this regard. Growing up, Brittany played basketball for Trinity High School. The school had an amazing team, winning two district championships and even advancing to the state semi-finals one year. When the team won (which they often did), I would celebrate with her but remind her to always be humble. When they would lose, I would share in her sadness but encouraged her to move past the losses and learn from them.
Of all my accomplishments, the one I am most proud of is having an amazing family. Father’s Day reminds me of how they inspire me daily, keep me grounded, and make me laugh. Being a parent has helped me be the leader that I am today.