Wally Bock says that being a father, like being a boss, is all about conversations.

In his own life as both a leader and a father, he has seen the value and impact of communicating well with others.

Conversations with his children formed the foundation of his fathering. Wally talked with his kids a lot during their growing up years. They talked along the way, with Wally and his kids sharing about just about every topic imaginable including interests, attitudes, and values.

Wally sees the importance of both focused and unfocused conversations. Focused conversations are the ones with a specific message to convey. Unfocused conversations have no particular agenda, but they build relational trust. Dad — and bosses — need to incorporate both in order to make connections.

There is no substitute for communication; it’s crucial. And conversations have to be two-way.

“One of the most surprising things for me about being a dad,” Wally said, “is that my kids listened and watched… all the time.”

He discovered that one day when he overheard his son giving advice to a friend, using Wally’s own stories and examples.

“Your kids are paying attention. They may look like they’re not listening, but they are. What you do matters. What you say matters, too — but what you do really matters.

Communication becomes even more important in the midst of tough times, both in business and parenting relationships.

“You need to keep working at the relationship. When you’re in a pit, and you don’t know how it’s going to come out, the key is to keep working on it, keep talking it out.”

Create vital two-way conversations; talk about everything; talk a lot; talk through the hard times; use communication to build relational trust and strong connections: all of these are great lessons on fatherhood and leadership from Wally Bock.

This was originally posted at Mountain State University LeaderTalk and is re-posted with permission.