“A Mother does not flee without her children”. Or so says Daenerys Targaryen, a popular fictional character in G.R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series of novels. Bold statement from a Mother. Of Dragons.
Everyday non-fictional life may come forth with less drama (or dragons), but is certainly not devoid of neither action nor boldness. It takes real courage to present yourself in front of your children as the composed adult ready and willing to offer support and guidance no matter what goes. And it’s that authentic presence of Mothers that draws them a Leadership profile so powerful, that even the best Leaders out there would envy.
The literature on Leadership is notoriously rich. Everyone (and their uncle) claim to have formed the definitive list of preferred Leadership capabilities. Traits that, if you have them (or should you work towards obtaining them), you are destined for greatness.
Depending on which side of the moon you are looking at (hint: it’s always one), discussed Leadership abilities seem to vary quite a bit at first glance. But, at the end of the day, most would agree that some traits are more crucial than others. If I were to put my money where my mouth is, I would go with the following:
- Communication (verbal and non-verbal): To effectively convey or receive a message, any form it runs by. Be it words or stance, disposition or art, sending the right signals and being open towards receiving those incoming comes as the most valuable -and often misplaced- trait of a Leader.
- Coaching: The art of co-creating a safe space that allows sharing of problems and crafting solutions. Good Leaders facilitate the growth of the other side, by incorporating a solution-driven process powered by what’s happening here and now.
- Directing: The ability to take up responsibility in decision making. When the going gets tough and those weirdly complex situations arise, someone needs to step up and make the critical choice. And that someone is the Leader.
- Ethos: One’s natural disposition, guiding beliefs or ideas. Good Leaders aren’t flat, or fake. They aren’t just book-smart. They are conscious of their existence and aspirations, and resonate them with every breath they take. They are holistically aware of themselves, and they are consistent in their being.
Having said that, let’s reflect on all the Mothers we know. From your own Mother, to that Mom next door, how many of these traits do they get to showcase in their daily routines as caregivers? Is it just me or are we discussing the most powerful Analogy yet? All those stuff we just said they make a good Leader. Think about it. Wouldn’t they make a good Mom as well?
- Communicating with your child, adhering to needs and wants, whether verbally expressed or not, is what Mothers are experts at. The moment your kid walks in from school, all it takes is one glance to know if the mood is good or if something is wrong. And from the way my baby wakes up after his nap, I can foresee how cranky or clingy he will get in a couple of hours. Mothers have, hands down, the magic wand of communication.
- Creating a safe place for learning and development is every Mom’s natural tendency. From back when she was pregnant and preparing the nest, down to handpicking toys, books and tiny furniture, Mothers know that their role is all about providing stimulation for development. To genuinely be there, and cultivate a safe environment for exploration and experimentation, towards Growth.
- Calling the shots when the situation arises. From small everyday choices (like what the kids are having for dinner) to handling emergencies, nobody can ignore Mom’s decision making capabilities. She’s in it to win it. And unless you got Mom on your side, no way is Dad taking you to your best friend’s pajama party. Not to mention who will be the one calling the pediatrician at 3am if that nasty fever persists.
- Once a Mother, always a Mother. Motherhood is so strong a concept, it almost gets to define you. Besides, isn’t “The Mother” the most powerful Archetype out there? I risk sounding a bit (ok a lot) Jungian here, but I do see how our brains are wired to automatically associate Motherhood with strong positive feelings like closeness and devotion, or with the existence of some sort of omnipresent nurturing and protecting power. That Archetype is the main reason why, when a woman you meet for the first time tells you she has a kid, you already start to feel you know things about her (even though you truly don’t). It’s the holistic nature of the Mother Archetype shining through, outlining a Mom’s disposition.
So, hopefully I have you hooked on the idea that Moms are actually pretty good Leaders, whether they know it or not. But I would like to argue that they aren’t just good. They are Great. Like THE greatest out there.
My friend Simon (who isn’t really my friend but I like to call him that) has written a book on the matter: what constitutes great Leadership. In his Infinite Game book, Simon explains that great Leaders are those driven by a cause. But not any cause. A just cause.
Those people, the Great Leaders, not only use their (communication, coaching, directing and ethical) capabilities to bring about tangible results, but they feel great about it too. And because they get to work on something bigger than themselves, their compensation has extra value in it. That link between their work and their just cause fuels their intrinsic motivation and keeps them engaged more than any award, appraisal or bonus ever will. And what’s more just for a cause than providing for a child? Just saying…
So, dear Momma, you are hopefully all pumped up after realizing how all those dots are connected. I bet you now come to see (or remind yourself of) your Leadership capability and potential. You are a natural Leader, Mom, and you get to demonstrate your qualities on a daily basis. Therefore, you own this and don’t let anyone even remotely try to convince you of anything less. You are a natural.
Lastly, to all those inspired Hiring Managers and Recruiters out there in search for the next Leader of the Pack, do go through your candidate list again and search for any Moms applying. Let alone their potential, which is infinite (as my friend Simon would agree) you won’t even have to wait for months and months until they are fully onboard. They will rise up to the role swiftly and gracefully. They ARE naturals!
Leading like a Mom? You got this!