By: Don Tyler is Owner of Tyler & Associates (www.dontyler.com) and has been an Executive and Management Coach for Ag Clients for over 25 years.  He can be reached at 765-490-0353 or don@dontyler.com

When business leaders manage a crisis their laser-focus on all the challenges, decisions and disruptive events that occur should not obscure another group that needs and deserves their attention as well—their own family.  Quite often, they are so focused on taking care of their staff and those families that they can accidentally overlook the needs of their personal family.

Most families know that in times of crisis, their family leader needs to stay focused on keeping the business running, the staff safe and healthy, and everything viable for another day.  As a crisis wears on, our family deserves to get more and more of our attention.  Just because the demands on our time are greater, it doesn’t mean that their needs are less.

Here are a few suggestions from seasoned business leaders:

  • Be more deliberate about checking in with your family. Don’t just ask, “Is everything okay?”  Ask more detailed questions, “How are YOU doing today?”  “What’s your biggest challenge right now/today/this week?”  “If there is one thing that I could do to help you, what would it be?”  Ask these questions of everyone in the family on a regular basis, even if it looks like they are doing fine.
  • You know how sick cattle will sometimes make themselves look healthy when the pen rider is walking pens? People in your family may do the same during stressful times.  They could be putting on their best face to protect you and try to avoid being an additional burden.  Don’t let that happen.  Monitor their behaviors, and take a look back at them when they aren’t looking…
  • Take care of yourself. Think about stressed cattle and how you would treat them to make sure they stay healthy—i.e. A high-quality diet formulated just for their situation, don’t over-work them, do everything you can to not add any additional stress, and provide plenty of TLC.  Do the same for yourself.
  • Think of the final safety instructions that you hear just before your plane takes off… “If there is an emergency and a loss in cabin pressure, put your own mask on first before helping those around you…” That’s good advice.  You can’t do a good job of helping everyone else if you’re not taking care of yourself.

Consider this as well.  Pat Lencioni is not only one of the world’s foremost authors when it comes to business leadership, he’s also a devoted husband and father who recognizes the need for strong families in today’s society.

As he has developed very personal relationships with his CEO clients, he realized that many of the leadership principles he was teaching them were not being applied in their role as the head of their family.  It was purely coincidental that his new book, The Three Big Questions for Frantic Families has just been released.

The three questions are, “What makes your family unique?” “What is your top priority—or your rallying cry—right now?” and “How do you talk about and use the answers to these questions?”  Even without the book you can see that there are significant applications to our current situation.  It would be a fun, educational and revealing exercise to discuss these questions with your family and develop your own strategy to put them into action.

Please let me help.  I’m here for you if you need to just talk, have some questions, need some assistance or anything at all.  No expectations.  No strings attached.