Many of the successful strategies I have learned, applied and shared in my leadership seminars are lessons I learned from being a mother.
1. God blessed me and my husband with two wonderful sons. My sons are extremely different in their personalities. I had to learn as a parent how to communicate and motivate them in different ways. I learned to understand their communication style and what things triggered their moods, desires, obedience and best results. Motivation is NOT one size fits all. People are different and need different styles of leading, loving and influencing. People respond to the personal touch. Find out what is unique about the people you work with, serve, love and lead.
2. The parent is supposed to be the mature one and not lose his/her cool with your young ones. As a Mom I had to learn to exercise emotional intelligence whenever my sons were immature, disobedient, disappointed us or made bad choices. I had to be careful not to make radical and hasty decisions or say things I would later regret because I was hot with anger or hurt and caught up in the moment. A good leader doesn’t do or say stupid things. A good leader practices emotional intelligence and self-control. We have to lead and influence by example, not by emotionally exploding.
3. When you have more than one child, it is critical and challenging not to show favoritism at times. You may have a child that is excelling in school academically or in sports or a child who always exhibits good behavior. You may have a child who is sick or physically challenged. You may have a child who is flexible and shows you more affection than your other children. Children mature at different levels and in different ways. Showing favoritism is not good. Make an honest attempt to acknowledge even the ones on your team, workforce, or family who are not meeting your expectations. People act out and scream for attention in interesting ways. If they are ignored and feel invisible, you could be setting yourself up for some rebellious, sabotaging and undesirable behavior that will affect and cost everyone eventually.
4. In hindsight I see that I had an “S” on my chest for SuperMom. I should have delegated more to my sons. I learned a lesson about empowering others with responsibility, even if they make a mistake or don’t do it my way. We enable people in a negative way if we do not practice shared responsibility. I had to learn how to step back as they grew and not micro-manage their lives. A mother will teach her children how to serve others and not always expect to be served and rescued. A good leader will teach their team how to serve others (i.e. customer service, community, church, co-workers, etc.) Learn to empower by delegating. Avoid burnout. Develop future leaders by delegating duties, not dumping.
5. Of course children love money and allowances. I learned that praise and acknowledgement of good deeds and achievements goes a long way. I love planting seeds of appreciation and praise when my sons would speak or act in positive ways. I wanted them to know that I was proud of them. Praise builds confidence and self-esteem. Money gives a momentary pleasure. Praise goes a long way to improve performance and relationships. Of course people always appreciate getting an increase in money…a raise. Remember the importance also of sincere acknowledgement by adding one letter to the word raise…you get PRAISE… and you will see a positive difference in performance and teamwork. Love and appreciation are great motivators! Oh yeah, this works in marriages also 🙂
6. My parents divorced when I was 7 yrs old. I recall my Father, who lived in Washington D. C., visiting my sisters and I in California. During those visits my Father promised my sisters and me several times that he was going to take us to Disneyland. It never happened. As a child I made a promise to myself that when I became a parent I would never break promises to my children. As an imperfect adult parent I’m sure there were times I disappointed my sons, but never intentionally or carelessly. Keep your promises. Don’t overextend or over promise others just to make yourself look good. Your integrity is key to effective persuasion and leadership. Be a leader that others can trust and depend on.
7. Parents make mistakes. I believe parenting is one the hardest jobs I’ll ever have. You learn as you go. Sometimes you get it right and sometimes you don’t. When you really care about your loved ones; you strive to get better, you keep the lines of communication open, you learn to forgive, you learn to ask for help, you learn more from your children, you learn to focus and sacrifice willingly, you learn to manage your time, money and emotions, you learn that they are watching you, you learn that leading them is a great and rewarding responsibility, you learn that you have to make tough decisions that are not always popular, you learn to pray, you learn the importance of seeking their ideas, you learn to adapt and accept what you can’t control, you learn it’s important to teach them what you know in order to leave a legacy…you learn and you learn. I think all of these learning lessons apply to leading a company, team, church, etc. Leaders will make mistakes. Keep learning. Be open to support and feedback. Be willing to take a stand when it’s for the good of the whole.
8. Being a mother taught me to be flexible and a multi-tasker. I had to be an out-of-the-box thinker, resilient and be creative with the budget, decorating, cooking and problem solving. I had to learn how check homework, cook, take them to school, nurse them when they were sick, go to their open house at school, PTA, football games and go to my full-time job. As a mother you often burn the midnight oil after everyone else is sleeping (i.e. folding clothes, cleaning, preparing children’s things for the next day, your own homework, working on your goals, etc.) Changes happen everyday with children. While my sons were young my greatest grief and losses happened when my Mother, Mother-in-law, Father-in-law, Father, and my best friend died. I couldn’t stop my life to grieve. My grandmothers passed before I had children. My mother and mother-in-law passed away while my sons were very young. So I had very little mentoring and support from wise women. I learned to reach out to other mothers on how to be a good mother for sons. I grew up with all females and no brothers. So parenting boys was very foreign to me. I had on-the-job training and I’m sure I made many mistakes. The demands and duties of motherhood did not stop. Shift happened and I had to still be emotionally available for my children. I had to know how to prioritize and focus on the most important things. I couldn’t make excuses and go to bed early just because I was tired. I had to give my 100% because my children were depending on me. The buck stops with the leader. No excuses. Great leaders are students always seeking knowledge and better ways to develop their team/employees/staff/church. A great leader acknowledges their weaknesses and their strengths. A leader puts in more hours planning, working, and preparing for future projects while the team/employees have clocked out. To whom much is given, much is required. Prioritize and yet be flexible and resilient because shift happens. People are depending on you (employees, staff, team, church members, etc.)
9. My constant mantra then and now with my sons is to remember the family is a team. In order to survive and thrive, we must communicate with each other. We must have a prayer life. We must stick together. When one falls, we must there for the other. We must respect each other’s differences. We have a family business (TaylorMade Limo and Sedan Service). So this mindset is something we drill down for the family as well as for the business. Every leader must have a standard, vision, mission and motto to keep their team together and moving forward. Every leader should prepare those coming after them and mentor them for advancement. There is no letter ” i ” in the word “team.”
10. When my sons go through the seasons and challenges of life, I have always been there to encourage them. Whether life was beating them up or they were suffering from their own choices, I never give up on them. It hurts a parent to see their children discouraged. A good leader knows how to build morale in the midst of adversity. A good leader knows how to inspire their team in and out of season. When sales are down or the congregation is slow in building or a team is losing or your child is living below their potential, the leader encourages and boosts morale to have hope and a plan for the future. A good leader keeps optimism and a vision for the future alive.
“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” Henry Ford