Lessons on Leadership: What I’ve Learned from my Dad

Hello, DHG! What an honor to have this opportunity to share my thoughts with all of you during Women’s History Month. My name is Emily Snow, and I am Matt Snow’s daughter. 

Emily-and-Matt-Photo

Like my dad, I attended Wake Forest University, where I studied English and French (unlike my dad, I do not have the “math” gene). After I graduated, I went to the London School of Economics and Political Science, where I received my Master’s in Human Rights. I then lived in Washington, D.C., and worked for a nonprofit organization that focused on land rights in developing countries, then spent time in government consulting. Now I’m in Athens, Georgia (go Dawgs!), finishing up my third year in law school. I’ll graduate in May and move to Atlanta to clerk for a federal judge. 

You’ll notice that my career path hasn’t mirrored my dad’s—at all.  I’ve certainly asked my father for career advice before, but our different industries have meant that I have often learned by looking to his example rather than seeking out concrete guidance.

That said, here are some of the ways that my dad has contributed to my growth and success as I have navigated my career. 

  1. Fostering my confidence. My dad has never questioned my ability to do something. He has encouraged me to set ambitious goals and pursue them wholeheartedly. But my dad has also advised me to separate my professional achievements from my sense of self-worth. Inevitably, I’ve encountered professional disappointments. I didn’t receive a promotion I expected to in one of my jobs, and I was rejected by one of my dream law firms for an internship. Separating those setbacks from my innate sense of self has helped me retain confidence and poise as I’ve navigated my career.
  2. Encouraging me to be independent. My dad is, and always has been, adamant that I figure things out on my own. Of course, he’ll always provide advice when I ask for it, but he has been deliberate in encouraging me to shape my own career and forge my own path. Let me be clear, though, that I still ask for help when I need it. For me, this is leaning heavily on my dad for help with taxes. (He’s always quick to disclose that he’s in audit, not tax! But he still knows far more than I ever will).
  3. Offering support, not showing doubt. Something my dad has never done is second-guess my choices or goals. I think women often face unsolicited questioning or doubt about our career decisions and ambitions, instead of unbridled support and enthusiasm. My dad has always offered the latter. He did ask a few questions when I went to Cameroon by myself two months into my first job—but he trusted me, and my work travel proved to be one of my most valuable professional experiences to date.
  4. Communicating with empathy and respect. This is how my dad communicates with me and how he communicates with others. As a woman, communicating in the workplace can be tricky; sometimes we have to speak more loudly, figuratively and literally, to be heard. What I’ve learned from my dad is that my baseline should always be one of respect, no matter to whom I am speaking.
  5. Exemplifying value-driven leadership. Probably the most valuable lesson from my dad, especially as I begin my legal career, is this: establish the values that are important to you, that will drive you throughout your career, and do not deviate from them. For my dad, I think one of those values is aligning actions with words. Last summer, following the acts of racial injustice, I heard my dad share DHG’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity during firmwide livestreams (we were often banished to a far corner of the house, but I admit to occasionally eavesdropping). I also saw my dad consume books, articles, and podcasts to learn about the experience of Black Americans and to inform his leadership of a diverse workplace. This is something I hope to emulate in my own career: taking action, even when others aren’t watching, to learn and to become a better professional and a better person.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention—especially during Women’s History Month—how much I’ve learned from my mother, too. My dad acknowledges that he is great for rational advice, but for emotional support? That’s my mom’s forte. So, a final thing I’ve learned from my dad: know who gives you the best advice, when, and seek them out accordingly.

For DHG’s “girl dads,” I hope these thoughts inspire you as you raise confident, self-possessed daughters. For the women of DHG, I hope Women’s History Month provides an opportunity to reflect on your own accomplishments. And for everyone else at DHG, celebrate the women in your life!

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Matt Snow
Chief Executive Officer
Matt.Snow@dhg.com

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