Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Moms as Leaders

The first leader we ever have in our lives is our mother and they not only shape and form us during our initial years many of us have the extreme good fortune of having them as an example and also to guide and lead us as we become teens, adults, and into parenthood ourselves.  Mom's, just like any other group of leaders, lead in a variety of ways - some are dictators, some are enablers, some are confidants, some are best friends, some are absent, while some are charismatic. Whatever the leadership 'type' our mothers are we understand that the intent of their efforts is always in our best interest and that the best mom's find a balance and combination of several leadership styles.

When looking at mother's as leaders it is easy to see that just like organizational leaders they are required to wear many hats and to lead in different ways depending on the person and the context. My sister and I were raised by the same mother but we both had different experiences growing up. Not only because we are different people with unique personalities but because of the circumstance and context of each situation we were in. Leaders need to be able to read and react while at the same time staying true to their core values and their beliefs. Do I think my mom ever changed her core beliefs? No. Do I think my mom changed her delivery or leadership style given what was going on at the time and understanding how I or my sister would react? Yes. As a consequence it doesn't take much to understand why she is such a good leader and mother!

Now as I have my own children I can reflect on this leadership dynamic first hand. My wife as a mother to our kids is something I am in daily awe of. Let's be honest; in this analogy of families and organizations kids can be the worst employees ever!! They don't always listen, they have their own agenda, they typically react poorly when they don't get their way, they wake you up in the middle of the night to tuck them in... ok, that last one is a bit annoying but they sure are cute when they are sleepy. In light of all this complexity my wife is able to filter through the sometimes madness and understand that teaching, guidance, and empowerment are far greater (and more effective) than dictating, coercing, and demanding. Of course there is a fine balance here but what impresses me most is the ability to see past the given moment and understand the greater picture. Good leaders can do that and typically they do so naturally even unknowingly. My wife sometimes questions her parenting skills / tactics in real time but as we discuss she comes to realize that by empowering our kids to make decisions and to deal with the consequences of such we are best preparing them for real life. By letting them fail she doesn't fixate on any shortcomings but allows them to learn from the result and build on it as an experience. She doesn't excuse the poor behaviour to simply avoid confrontation but attempts to understand the root of the behaviour to see if  she can't determine the source.

The parallels between motherhood and organizational leadership can be a bit of a stretch but fundamentally they are the same. Leaders must understand not only the individuals they are leading and know the factors that will best motivate, how they best learn, and how they will most likely succeed but they must also understand the context and situation in which they are dealing with. Along with all of this mom's do all of these things with spilled juice on the floor, spit up on clothes, little to no sleep at times, making meals, cleaning the house, part time taxi driving, walking the dogs, and of course dealing with the incessant questions of curious minds wanting to know everything about everything all of the time.

So here's a toast to all mom's for all their efforts, all their care, and all their love. Your 'job' as a leader is the most under appreciated and under recognized form of leadership in the world but you a truly the most impactful. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


1 comment:

  1. So very honouring Mike :) Mom's jobs are the hardest on the planet and yet we do it for the sheer joy and satisfaction of seeing them grow in love - ready to change the world :)