If you are an executive, I am about to tell you something about your daughter that she may be afraid to tell you. As a matter of fact, she might not even realize it herself.
But first, who am I referring to when I say an executive’s daughter? That would be any woman, at any age really, that has been raised in a household of a high achieving executive, who rose to success while raising his daughter.
I’m here to reveal the truth about that daughter. The Executive’s daughter.
Yes, I am referring to myself, but also countless other women I have coached over the years who had a similar upbringing. A childhood protected and sheltered, full of safety and freedom, inspired by the impact her father has had in his chosen field, on the employees he has led, and the companies he has shaped. Exposure to grandiose ideas and possibilities was palpable, but most importantly, her dad’s success allowed her to grow up with a mindset of possibility.
Along with all that impact and success came missing her dad because he was gone a lot and butting heads with him because he was too busy to see what was going on in her world day to day. And this childhood came with a lot of pressure to be better, to do better, to manage, to lead. It was imperative. It was as if the drive to be responsible and not waste an opportunity was infused into the daughter’s DNA.
I remember growing up and being at odds with my dad a lot. I will never forget my mother taking me to the side after one of my teenage outbursts where I had wanted something and didn’t get it, saying: “Dany, you have to be much more diplomatic!”
I can remember exactly where I was when she said that to me and I have never forgotten it. She was right and it’s what was needed then and often what is still needed now.
Fast forward to some of my female peers in their 40s, 50s, and 60s who, like me, were raised by an executive father in an intact household (what that means is for another post). There is M, who is shaking up international models of cultural philanthropy, impact and sustainability; another M, who is chief technology officer for a large entertainment company; S, who is instrumental in infusing sustainability in the syndication department of one of the largest banks out there; and L, CEO of an ed tech startup in the leadership development space.
I could go on and on.
These women have been groomed to lead. They were infused with the leadership mindset from infancy. They didn’t have to learn it or study it because they lived it every day at home.
So, if you are hiring and you come across one of these women, know that she is a force to reckon with. She won’t take NO for an answer. She may or may not be diplomatic, but she knows how the system works and how to get things done. She is fearless and fierce.
Deep down she is still craving the love of her dad.
All that said and revealed, I want to now impart insights based on these experiences of so many daughters of executives.
If you are a successful executive and father of a daughter, let her in on the successes, but also the failures and the stumbling blocks you had to overcome. Spend time with her, since time is fleeting and precious. Acknowledge her and open doors for her. And most importantly, trust that she has what it takes to leave a mark in this world and make an impact. She is standing on your shoulders trying to build on what mattered to you. She is insightful and smart, gifted in many ways and possibly more influential than you could have been because as a woman she inherently knows how to build relationships.
Don’t get me wrong, she will have her insecurities and she will make mistakes. She’ll run into walls she didn’t know were there. But she will be effective and leave her mark. You can be certain of that.
And deep down she will still crave your love. Please remember that as you read on.
Executive daughter’s insights:
1. Your daughter has a purpose
Father-daughter relationships are always fraught with difficulty. It’s a special bond not to be messed with. The executive-daughter relationship, however, is challenging and tremendously powerful. The reason why your daughter is doing what she is doing is most likely because of you. Her origin story starts with you. The reason why she is on her path is because of you and whatever experiences you have had with her. It shaped her thinking, her desires, her motivation. Engage in some dialogue with her to find out what is important to her.
2. Your daughter has a different perspective
As much as your daughter is shaped by what you exposed her to, she is growing up in a different time with different technology and different challenges to meet. Her perspective is valuable and unique to her. Trust it, respect it, seek it out.
3. Release her from having to be responsible
Your daughter knows that you sacrificed to be successful. All the trips that took you away from her were noticed. All the stress you endured to provide for her and the rest of the family were acknowledged. She recognizes the responsibility she has because of your sacrifices. She doesn’t want to squander the money provided, the education financed, the start to the career supported. She will dot the i’s and cross the t’s to make sure she is living up to your expectations. Tell her that her contributions are welcome, but she is not responsible for saving the world. Release her from the handcuffs of responsibility.
4. Hire a coach or recommend a coach to her
Relationships between executives and their daughters are complex. Do her a favor and support her to get a meaningful sounding board, an outside observer that will help guide her through her own turmoil. You have raised her, you don’t need to coach her. As a matter of fact, you can’t. And while you are at it, think about whether you need an outside sounding board to discuss what you can’t discuss with anyone else.
That’s it. That’s your daughter’s truth. I hope it helps.
Do you want an outside perspective? Email me to book your strategy session: