by Michael Holland    

In business, I have the opportunity to help executives gain feedback on how others perceive their leadership behaviors and impact via a 360-degree feedback survey.  The survey gathers feedback from the executive’s direct reports, his peers, and his boss, forming a full circle of perceptions.   The multiple vantage points provide a great perspective on how the executive’s behavior really is impacting the people involved.

Reflecting on this makes me wonder how we fathers would fair with this type of feedback opportunity.  Imagine getting feedback from the “stakeholders” who surround you: your kids, your wife, your neighbors, friends, relatives, etc. If they could provide feedback on how they perceive you as a father, how would they score the ways in which your behavior impacts your family?

Here’s how the groupings of raters may break out:

  • Direct Reports = The Kids – These are the ones who see you in the “boss of the family” role, or at least as half of the co-parent power grouping.
  • Peers = Outsiders Looking In – This group of stakeholders includes friends, neighbors, brothers/sisters, brother/sister-in-laws, and the ever-feared mother-in-law.
  • Boss = The Wife – Yes, the boss perspective.  Arguably the best person who can look upon your performance as a father, husband, and man of the world.

Here’s a start to some performance statements regarding Dad.  Think of each statement being answered on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being “never” and 7 being “all the time”.  How would you rate Dad on the following statements?

  • Supports the family with emotional strength and fortitude
  • Shows up at events and activities that he has committed to
  • Is faithful
  • Sees his time alone with the kids as babysitting
  • Takes mom out for date night on a regular basis
  • Is consistent with his discipline
  • Is honorable
  • Loves his family
  • Balances work and family life
  • Is spiritual
  • Shows up but doesn’t isn’t really here

While it may be a bit much to actually run a feedback survey on a father, I do think men should put themselves in positions to solicit feedback dynamically.  At the very least, we can read the list of statements and wonder how the “raters” in our lives may perceive us.  And then we can decide what actions we should take to address/improve/continue our fathering behaviors.