Although there are many, below are the characteristics I believe are the most important in being the best dad you can be. But none of these characteristics alone are sufficient and sometimes not even beneficial if not balanced.
Be Involved – Be involved from the moment of your children’s birth. You are a parent, not a figurehead. Be there for important events. Be available when they need support. Be strong for them when they are afraid. Be careful to consider your children when you prioritize your life events. Be a listener!
Be Principled – You are being watched by your children. They assume you are the model they should follow. You must have personal values that will guide them in the right direction. Be honest. Be moral. Be sure you have rules and limits.
Be Consistent – Do what you say and say what you'll do. When you have limits there will be rewards and consequences. Be reliable. Be a rock. Don't confuse your children. Explain to your children the reasons when you vary from the norm. Explain the situations that may cause you to relax or tighten the rules/limits.
Be Loving – Be gentle. Be kind. Be understanding. Be protective. Give hugs and pats on the back. Occasionally give them your complete attention. Sympathize when appropriate but show your concerns about improper behavior. That is also love.
Be Fun – Be a jokester, but don't force it. Surprise your children with occasional treats and adventures. Smile. Do crazy things like balancing a broom on your nose. Play catch. Pretend with them. Have tea in tiny plastic cups. Tease them in a kind, not demeaning way. Know and be kind to their friends.
Be Balanced – Possibly the glue that makes all the other 'Be's work is to be balanced. Be involved but not too involved. Be principled but don't be preachy. Be consistent but not inflexible. Be loving but don't be a pushover. Be fun but be respected. Know your own limits. You cannot be consistent if you don't have principles. You can't be loving or fun if you are not involved.
Be Passionate – Being a passionate father is a blessing for a man and his children. Being passionate comes natural to some men - but not to all. If you don't have a natural passion for fatherhood, then be passionate about reviewing this list of characteristics and thinking about how you can apply them. A father that has to work at being a dad can be a bigger hero for his children than those for which fathering comes easily.