Certain areas of your life are thriving. At work, your leadership is steering your company to great success. Your shareholders trust you and your quarterly results keep rising. But your ability to lead at work has not translated well into your personal life. You and your partner are liquidating the contract you agreed to in your wedding vows — which is turning out to be even more fun than your average day in court.
Contrary to what popular media tells you, divorce is harder on men than women. They have worse mental and physical health outcomes post-separation.
You cannot let this divorce get in the way of being a CEO and you cannot let it get in the way of being a parent. You are going to navigate new waters as a single father. Work-life balance will become harder than ever.
Here are 6 tips to becoming a better single DAD CEO:
As a CEO, you have to talk to lead different types of people. How you help consumers see the value of your product is different from how you address your board, your colleagues, and employees. The ability to lead different kinds of people helped propel you to the top.
You can take that same emotional intelligence and social adeptness to lead your child through this difficult time. You need to keep their ages in mind.
0-3: Your youngest children don’t understand what is happening. The best way to help them through this period is to set up a predictable routine that they can count on and be patient with their surfacing behavior problems.
3-6: Children at this age have some conception that their lives have changed. Be open to answering questions. Realize that your attitude affects them so try to remain respectful and constructive around the issue
6-12: These children also need a very steady routine and lots of quality time with both parents. They understand that their parents are no longer together. You will need to ease their fear that this has anything to do with them.
13+: Teenagers are already having a difficult time during this age. Allow them to vent their frustrations about the situation, even about you. Be honest and direct. Your child is not young anymore and appreciates a seat at the table of which you are the head. Check to see if they’d like someone else to talk to if they are struggling to communicate with you.
Whatever their age, make sure to establish a culture of respect in your house. As a CEO, you do not gossip. Issues are addressed head-on with whoever you have a problem with. You need to stick to the same code of conduct at home. Badmouthing your ex will confuse and upset your child, possibly setting them up for psychological problems and relationship issues of their own later in life.
Whether your divorce was messy or clean, co-parenting is difficult. There are things that you and your partner never agreed on when raising your children, and you are unlikely to find agreement now.
Following a schedule can be as simple as having breakfast together with no distractions such as mobile phones.
Try to smooth over the most obvious bumps by making sure that you have your scheduling straight and responsibilities delegated. In a marriage, this looks like you clean the house (optional), and I’ll bring home money (non-negotiable). Once you are a single father, you need to make sure that all expectations are clearly outlined. What days do you have your kid? Who is picking him up from baseball practice? Who is attending her mock trial?
You have experienced bumps in your professional life due to unclear communication. You know how they jam up productivity and create animosity. Someone is left disappointed when something falls through the cracks—don’t let that person be your child.
THING SHORT AND LONG-TERM
A bad CEO caves to pressure to look only at short-term results. “How can I raise next quarters’ revenue?” they ask, at the expense of all other metrics.
A good CEO thinks, “How can I make this company the most stable and profitable in the long run?”
A fantastic CEO thinks, “How can I give my shareholders what they want while also guaranteeing the long-term health of the company?”
The same is true with a fantastic father. As a single dad, you need to think of what your child needs today, next year, and twenty years from now. How much water will your child need at the park today? Will this summer camp help them build the skills they’ll need to be successful next school year? Will ice cream every night set them up to be a healthy adult with a palette for real food?
FOCUS ON YOUR HEALTH
Here’s a quote they always say to women as if it doesn’t apply to men:
“You can only pour from a full cup.”
Keeping fit can become a tradition that both you and your child can share together.
If you want to thrive in every area of your life, you have to focus on taking care of yourself. Your child needs your attention when you’re there. They won’t truly have it if you are under-rested, full of brain fog, and feeling like a pork beast. As a single father, you will struggle to take care of your health.
If you do let yourself go, you will ultimately fail as a CEO. That’s if you don’t die first. Stress leads to poor decision making and poor performance. Divorce will put stress on you—and taking care of yourself through activities like yoga and meditation will help you manage the load and reduce your chances of depression.
You can’t be everything to everyone all the time. This is why you are the Chief Executive Officer—not the Chief Executive, Technology, Marketing, and Financial Officer (even if it feels like that sometimes).
Luckily, you don’t need to be. You just need to be the CEO at work and at home, you just need to be a dad. You need to make sure that you are doing the things only you can do, while someone else takes care of everything else. That means using your assistant when you need them. It may also mean hiring a personal assistant to help take care of family emergencies, shopping, and scheduling. What can you take off your plate and put onto someone else’s? When is it most important for you to be there for your child?
Being present is the most important aspect of being a good father
This is the most important thing that you do as a CEO. You know what needs to be taken care of now and later. You also know who needs to take care of what. If you delegate a new responsibility to an employee, you can tell them to put another project on the backburner.
This is what you need to do as a single father. You have to make sure that your child comes first. You can do this by making sure to finish up everything you need to at work and then putting the cell phone away once you get home. You can do this by setting aside vacation days. You can do this by never canceling on your children in favor of work—because that’s a slippery slope.
“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
Keep this always in mind when you feel torn over whether to sneak a peek at your phone or cancel a trip.
Being a single father is difficult and will be trying at times. But if you play your cards right, you can sharpen your skills in both domains and end up stronger than before.
In time, you will notice that you and your child have grown closer than you ever would have if your marriage was intact. Do not attempt to compensate for your time at work by showering your child with gifts. Your undivided attention is what will help you and your child overcome this divorce and will give them the strength they need for a lifetime. Keep presence over presents in mind and you’ll become a more in-touch father and CEO.