Steve Roesler has spent his adult life leading and influencing others. After his days as a drill sergeant in the Army, the years he spent as a manager at Pfizer, and his extensive graduate studies, Steve decided start his own company. For the past 30 years, he has helped develop thousands of leaders in hundreds of organizations.
Yet in talking to Steve, it was clear that in all of his accomplishments, there is not a single one that comes close fatherhood. Steve says, “Being a dad has no equivalent experience.”
Steve described the moment he met his daughter:
Christin came to us from Korea. I can still remember the moment in time when the door to the plane opened and the lady from Holt International walked off and handed her to me. I will tell you without any exaggeration at all, at that very moment the thought that I had was “This is the child that God gave me; it’s my job to make sure that she is cared for as long as I am alive.” It was such a moment that there was never any doubt in my mind what the priorities in my life would be from then on.
Steve’s greatest priority in fatherhood: being available to and involved with his daughter. He and his wife, Barbara worked hard during Christin’s growing up years to ensure that one of them was always present.
In the early years, that meant Steve fit his business and work around Christin’s needs and schedule. When Christin was three, a phone call from a client interrupted Steve’s playtime at home with her. Steve had been helping the client, American Express, finalize a design and materials for a training program that was to launch in L.A. the following week. So Steve scooped Christin up into his arms and went to meet the client. Steve said “That was in 1985, not the norm, but we found out that decent people don’t really care about the norm.” I am sure his actions made quite a statement about his values.
Steve is unequivocal about his priorities: parenting trumps work every time. Period. To dads, Steve says,
Be there, don’t be someplace else when it isn’t mandatory. Be accessible, even if you are doing your executive homework. If you’re not there, kids begin to wonder about just how much you care. Words don’t make up for that. Only physical presence.
Every father influences his child’s life, but in order to influence a child in a positive way, a father must be actively involved.
Whether you are engaged or not, you are going to have an influence on your child’s life. The choice is, do you want to do it purposefully and in a way that influences your child positively or do you want to do it in a way that allows the child to simply guess at what life is like?
So, how did a dad who was busy traveling for his business manage to be there for his daughter? He brought her along. From Bermuda to Germany, Finland to Italy, Steve and his family traveled together.
As a result, Christin’s “eyes were opened to other people and how others live. Her travels led to an entire lifestyle that she embraced.”
Now that Christin is an adult, living and working in Manhattan for an international bank, she and Steve exchange frequent emails and text messages and have dinner at least once a week.
Steve’s position and priorities are unwavering. He is always available to and involved with Christin — as he has been from the moment they met.
This post was originally published at Mountain State University Leadertalk and is republished here with permission.
I am the founder/CEO of the Weaving Influence team, the author of Reach: Creating the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause, and the host of the Book Marketing Action Podcast. I’m a wife and mom of three kids, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, coffee, and dark chocolate.
Thanks for the interview with Steve. What a great role model for fathers and leaders.
I’m really enjoying your “Dads as leaders” series.
Happy Father’s Day. I hope you have special times with your family.