How Great Mothers Make Great Leaders

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By Jas Singh

Leadership is often about giving.

Putting the needs of others ahead of your own. Thinking about the greater good rather than your own interests. Often working hard and sacrificing yourself, maybe with little recognition or reward – just to keep things running smoothly.

For most mothers out there, all the above is probably a standard days work. On a good day.

Maybe nature hasn’t created a single relationship as powerful and naturally strong as that between a mother and her child. It’s one that every human experiences. From giving life, carrying, nurturing and raising a child to them eventually flying the nest, mothers often keep the home together and are the glue that makes families stick. In fact your mother is often one of the (if not the) most influential person in anyone’s life.

Even “mother” nature herself is a mom.

Being a parent – especially a mother – is a cultivated trait. As any new mom will tell you – it takes time to getting used to. But many of the skills developed through motherhood are applicable to leadership.

Here are some reasons why great mom’s make great leaders.

1) Leadership is giving

The leadership guru Simon Sinek mentions in his award winning book “Leaders Eat Last” how in-depth analysis of hundreds of leaders throughout history has revealed that truly outstanding leaders have one common trait. They give. They protect. They eat last.

My mom always ate last. Usually after the 3 of us had trashed the table, eaten only the good stuff and ran back out to play in the garden. In between feeding the baby and helping us do our homework.

It’s a familiar story for most mothers.

In a world of business often filled with ego’s, over-competitiveness and cut throat politics, genuinely giving – for the sake of helping others and with no personal motive – is rare. Never mind eating last, most of us are pushing ourselves to the front of the dinner queue. Trying to eat other peoples share if we can.

The overwhelming tendency of giving during motherhood is a powerful tool in leadership.

Leaders give more, then receive.

2) Boardroom pressure? Try being a mom!

Problems feeding. Teething. Exams. Bullying. Not being allowed to be the red power ranger in the playground. First night out with their friends.

Makes the client presentation seem like a doddle.

Stress levels in the workplace are now commonly documented. It’s well known that executives that can cope with stress better often achieve more and are suited to positions of leadership.

But what about the pressures of being a mom? Often the pressure can be even more intense, stakes are much higher and there’s less people around to help you out. But motherhood pressure is much less spoken about.

Mom’s handle pressure as part of their day to day lives. They are much better at achieving the magic word in life – balance. Angela Ahrendts, former CEO at Burberry and now SVP at Apple, is a famous example of this. She once rejected an invite to the Oscars due to wanting to maintain her work life-balance. As she said “”It’s not more important than my husband. It’s not more important than my kids. It’s not more important than Burberry”.

Leaders handle pressure.

3) Multi-tasking is easier

Demands on leaders have never been greater. To survive you have to be able to adapt. To be flexible. To manage a wide variety of tasks and challenges.

Making sure the organisation runs smoothly. Profits. Shareholders. Increasing competition. Financial markets. As well as now also increasing your personal brand.

For mothers multi-tasking is a part of daily life. There’s always something to do, a task to finish. Physically, mentally, emotionally – the demands are great. Plus the rest of the family. Plus your career. Plus the one thing that’s usually left till last….you.

Just to cope with the demand, mothers learn to be efficient. They learn to multi-task, juggling highly fragile and important balls in the air at the same time.

Leaders are efficient.

4) Leaders empathize

Empathy means the ability to feel what someone is going through at a given moment in time. It’s often described as “your pain in my heart”. It’s an essential trait in leadership.

The reason most leaders lose the faith of their followers is due to loss of empathy. Members of the team don’t feel connected with the leader – that he or she has overlooked the needs they have and not taken the time and effort to understand them.

Great mom’s know exactly what their children are feeling. To this day, my wife amazes me with how she can sense when any of our children may have an issue that needs addressing way before it comes to the surface. My mom is exactly the same with me and my siblings.

In fact, part of the great power that lies in motherhood is because of the ability to empathize so strongly. Over years of application, this is a quality that can be of immense value in business.

Leaders empathize.

Conclusion

Great mothers deserve more credit than any great actress, executive or politician.

Although we live in an era of non-discrimination, the truth is that some hiring managers do think that being a mother at work can be a distraction. Often the opposite is true – mother’s have much more to offer.

Mom’s can inspire and lead. For me at least, my mom gave me belief and ambition.

Happy mother’s day mom. Thanks for everything.

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