Lessons on Leadership and Life From My Father

My dear father, Max Shambaugh, has passed, and I was by his side his last hours this weekend. He was my "hero" who inspired me in so many ways, both personally and professionally. He was so influential to me that I wrote about his impact on my life and career in the very first chapter of my first book, It's Not a Glass Ceiling, It's a Sticky Floor, where I shared these thoughts about how he inspired me:

"I...began to reflect back on the conversations I'd had with my father, Max Shambaugh, at the kitchen table when I was a little girl. I was always fascinated by the fact that he had built a third-generation family business into one of the largest construction companies in the country. My father instilled in me an approach to work that I still value today. Specifically, he encouraged me to take risks but to be prudent about it, to build on my strengths and relationships, and to follow through on things I'm passionate about."

My father was a great leader who embodied what I consider the "trifecta of leadership." He served his family, his country, and his work, and he truly excelled in each of these key arenas. This "trifecta" approach to leadership through service envisions a world where each individual becomes part of the difference, inspiring family members, peers, and colleagues to give back as well. The passion and purpose that my dad brought to his own trifecta lifted up those around him and improved countless lives.

Because my dad lived his life with extreme passion and intention--exemplifying true intentional leadership--he was instrumental in not only shaping my values, but in giving me the courage and confidence to live my own dreams and pursue what I was purposely driven to be and do. Despite his success in his own life, he remained an eternally humble man who got up every day and lived to make a difference, no matter how small or large.

One of the biggest lessons I learned from my father is something that I believe holds an invaluable lesson for all of us. Leadership is not just showing up at the office or even what we do while we're there; leadership can be, and should be, much more multi-dimensional than that. The legacy we really leave behind extends out of our workplaces and into our families, our communities, our nation, and even the world based on how our example teaches others to live. This is reflected in our small daily actions--how we show up for people, how we treat others, and what we make time for in our busy lives.

When we approach these decisions with intention to help and serve others, as my father did so well, then we become the type of leaders and role models that others not only need, but always remember. The world needs many more such mentors. My father was this to me, and as such, he inspired me to strive to be the same for those around me.

While my heart deeply hurts with this loss, I am grateful for the many wonderful years I shared with my dad. As a wonderful father to his family, a hero who served his country with honor, and a leader who made a huge difference and inspired so many in his profession and community, he had a big life and a huge soul that I know will live on in my own heart--and in many other hearts--forever.