How To Be An Effective Leader (6 Invaluable Lessons My Dad Taught Me)

Here's a look at leadership lessons that I have gleaned from watching my dad as a leader in our home, as I grew up, and today.

Photo: Jessica Rule, founder and CEO of SHK The Advertising Firm; Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Jessica Rule, founder and CEO of SHK The Advertising Firm; Source: Courtesy Photo

My dad has led me throughout my entire life. Now that I’m an adult, I’ve realized my business acumen comes from him; and I attribute it to his leadership.

He grew up in the projects of New Orleans. Today he is the CFO of a large natural gas company and a community leader. He credits his success to the leaders in his life and knowing what to do with their advice once he received it.

Here’s a look at leadership lessons that I have gleaned from watching my dad as a leader in our home, as I grew up, and today.


  1. Be a chameleon.

    Adapting to their environment has kept the chameleon alive for thousands, if not millions of years. If you study leadership it’s often said that there are four different types of leaders (i.e., authoritarian, democratic, laissez-faire and paternalistic).

    The overall understanding is that all leaders fall into one of these categories. My dad’s theory is that to be the most effective leader you must be able to transition between all four leadership styles to navigate variable situations you may find yourself in.

  2. Confidentiality is key.

    Right after I typed those words I knew I was going to break this rule. This story is too good not to share. My dad shared a story—which he is likely regretting right now—(sorry!) about when he was a young professional.

    He worked for a guy that thought it was perfectly okay to share where people were when they were out of the office. Even when my dad had to take time off to take care of a hemorrhoid problem his boss shared this with the other employees, leaving dad to be the “butt of all jokes!” It’s important for others to feel comfortable. As a leader it’s your job to create a trusting environment.

  3. Build up other leaders.

    After graduation my dad went to work for Arco Permian, formerly, Arco Oil and Gas, which was bought by British Petroleum. Many of the people he worked with are now executives at some of the world’s largest oil companies, and not by coincidence.

    Arco had an outstanding leadership program that taught skills specific to each position. They cultivated well-rounded leaders that couldn’t be stopped. This is evidenced by the fact that Arco Alumni have a strong network throughout the country.

  4. Continue learning.

    The strongest leaders never stop learning. Expanding your knowledge and learning new skills will set you apart. My dad is a numbers guy (and has been his entire career) however; he manages not only accounting and finance, but also IT. While IT can be its own world and very complex; by taking the time to learn the basics of what his subordinates do he can strengthen both their communication and relationships.

  5. Lead by example.

    List the behavior and performance you expect from your team and then hold yourself accountable to those same standards. It’s much easier to have a discussion with a co-worker about their weaknesses, in practice, if they haven’t seen you display those same behaviors on a regular basis. As a leader you should strive to do your best so you can lead not only with your words but by your actions.

  6. Dress for your next role.

    Your attire is a huge part of perception (e.g., your “personal brand“). If you want to become a leader in your industry, you have to dress like a leader. Of course, still keeping in mind what’s appropriate for your industry and environment. If you’re meeting with clients, dressing professionally and exuding confidence from head to toe could be the defining factor between a new deal or a lost opportunity.


This article has been edited and condensed.

Jessica Rule is the founder and CEO of SHK The Advertising Firm, a Midland based advertising firm dedicated to providing eye-catching items to market companies. At the age of 26 she is successfully transforming the advertising industry in her town by providing creative, out of the box campaigns for her clients. She is also highly involved in her community she sits on several boards and is an emcee for local events. Connect with @jessicalrule on Twitter.


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