He was a proud Commander in the Brazilian navy, a man in love with his country and deeply committed to his family. As I reflect on Commander Horacio de Mello e Souza, I think of the leadership lessons he taught me - the indelible lessons I carry with me today and hope to teach my daughter.
Lesson # 1: Integrity
Integrity defined my father. He made every decision - personally and professionally - with the unwavering determination to be a man of integrity. My father followed the integrity path when it hurt him, when it hurt his friends, and even when it cost him a much beloved career in the Navy. Honor first - always - no apologies, no politics, no half-way measures. Today, as I face life's inevitable moral dilemmas I ask myself: What would my father do? What is the honorable course? Almost twenty years after his death, my father is still my moral compass.
What has your own father taught you about integrity? As a leader, what do you teach your followers about integrity? Are you their compass?
Lesson # 2: Service to Followers
My father focused far more on his followers than on those above him. He would fight for the little guy always - the sailor, the worker at the factory, the administrative assistants at the office. He would fight for the less powerful followers with gusto, ignoring politics and his own interests.
What has your own father taught you about service to followers? As a leader, who comes first - your followers or "higher up" people in your organization? Would you defend your followers even if that cost you your own career aspirations?
Lesson # 3: A Sense of Adventure
His eyes would light up as he told stories of danger, excitement, and exploration. He was always ready for adventure - even when "adventure" meant hauling a huge log onto a boat only to discover the log was rotten and had to be thrown back to sea. Life was too short to be lived in fear.
What has your own father taught you about adventure? As a leader, do you transmit to your followers the joy of discovering? Can work itself be joyous and exciting?
Lesson # 4: Friendship, Always
He was forever loyal to his navy buddies - best friends forever, in good and bad times, when they drove him crazy and when he loved them. In fact, I believe he always loved them. Friends were everything to my dad. Friends mattered more than rank or money or politics.
What has your own father taught you about friendship? How does friendship support your own leadership journey?