A Mother of A Leader

Once again, I was twittered this insightful and heartwarming article that I would like to share with you. Please feel free to add your comments here or send a note to the author - Erin Schreyer - with your thoughts.

Have you hugged a leader today?

This past Mother’s Day weekend, I thought a lot about the joy I have with my children, as well as the blessings I have received from my own mother.  Mothers have a deep sense of pride in what we do.  We want to do it well because we sense that the impact our efforts will shape the lives of our children forever.

When I think about the responsibilities of being a mother, they are great.  Often, they are synonymous with the characteristics of outstanding leadership.  Think of the parallels:

Mothers and leaders must be inspirational and visionary.

They can’t waste energy on obstacles, difficult situations and “I can’t.”  Instead, they must forge ahead – goal-oriented – breaking barriers with optimism and encouragement, showing their family that creative solutions can bring success.  Moms are problem-solvers, out-of-the-box thinkers who want to push the limits and provide for their children.  In a sense, weren’t Moms the first entrepreneurs?

Remember the inspiration she gave you, so that you had the belief you could do anything?  Even before the words “entrepreneur” or “inspiration” existed, mothers had paved the way by bringing us into this world and providing a vision of how great our lives can be!  Likewise, leaders should inspire to bring out the best in their teams.  They should encourage and support fresh, new ideas, be ready to take some calculated risks and celebrate the rewards of taking their organizations to new and exciting places.

Mothers and leaders add value by serving others.

As stated by John Maxwell in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership “the bottom line in leadership isn’t how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others.”

From the day you were born, you mother nurtured you, supported you and sacrificed for your well being.  Yes, mothers often put the needs of their children ahead of their own….and they do so to build into them and give them the greatest tools, abilities and methods to achieve success.  “What can I do for you?” is a commonly used phrase. That’s leadership at its finest!!  An organizational leader should be sure they are empowering their team, giving credit where credit is due and being generous by sharing his/her time, knowledge and resources.

Mothers and leaders must be able to connect emotionally to others.

Primal Leadership: “Even if they get everything else just right, if a leader fails in this primal task of driving emotions in the right direction, nothing they do will work as well as it could or should.”   

Think of a time in your life when you felt emotionally hurt and you shared that with your mom.  She made you feel better, didn’t she?  Moms are not only good listeners, but they have a way of knowing just the right thing to say to help you move forward in a better direction.  Moms acknowledge their children, express empathy and connection, and then they leave you with a sense that you can do better next time.  Leaders should also realize that their emotions are contagious.  If they resonate positive energy and enthusiasm, it will likely rub off on their teams.  That emotional connection may take everything else to the next level.

Mothers and leaders must know when to lead and when to let go.

John Maxwell writes “Good leaders recognize that when to lead is as important as what to do and where to go. Timing is often the difference between success and failure in an endeavor.”

The greatest responsibility of parenting is raising our children to be the best they can be…out on their own.  It’s years of building into them to let them go and flourish.  Throughout their childhood they need their mom’s guidance, love, and support.  We must lead them….and we must let go – just like that spectacular moment when you let go for your child’s first two-wheeled bicycle ride.  Moms must lead when needed and let go when needed.  The same is true for great leadership.  There are times to step up and lead, and there are times to allow others to do the work.  There are times when decisive actions need be taken, and a good leader knows how to identify these and make them happen.

There are many likenesses, indeed, between mothers and leaders.  And in fact, yes, mothers ARE leaders in many respects.  The biggest differentiating factor, however, is that a mother’s love is deeper, more passionate, protective and joyful than any business can bring.  While we can enjoy our careers and business leadership, the fact remains that no earthly act is more gratifying than being a mother and being loved in return by your children.  That unconditional emotion can inspire even the greatest of all leaders. 

Have you experienced a leader who possessed the attributes of a great mother? How did it impact your performance? How have you taken the example provided by a great mom and demonstrated that to your team? If you have, how did they react? I would love to hear an example of maternal leadership that has paid off in real results with your team! Please share.