“Motherhood is.. the one job where, the better you are, the more surely you won’t be needed in the long run.” ~ Barbara Kingsolver, Pigs In Heaven
Without dipping too deeply into politics, Doesn’t it seem like the women who are running things these days are making better decisions than the men? Even if you don’t agree, let’s agree not to fight about it on Mother’s day. Here are some highlights from an essay I wrote in 2013 touching on Robyn Ackerman’s observations about a certain group of people who are, perhaps, most likely to develop great leadership traits. “If you are looking for a job,” she writes, “make sure to add ‘mom’ to your resume.”
Moms have a demonstrated ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously: I tend to favor leaders who have demonstrated the ability to continue their education, engage in the community and prioritize family, while delivering excellent results. Moms taught us how.
Moms have a track record of effective strategic thinking and tactical execution: They are the best planners. They are able to execute parallel projects while keeping an eye on the big picture. If you grew up in a house where there were lists on the fridge and even your TV time was scheduled, you know what I mean.
Moms are able to balance high professional productivity with personal life: This is my resume description for a person who can function on very little sleep, while maintaining their physical and mental health. Ask any mom who was up all night with a sick child about the next day’s to-do list. It gets done anyway.
Moms accept challenging assignments with professionalism and class: They live the Stockdale Paradox every day: Deal with unpleasant current realities but expect to achieve your objective in the end.
Moms practice active listening skills. Seeking to understand before seeking to be understood: When it comes to wonderful moms, there are no better listeners.
Moms have a proven work ethic: We admire leaders who always show up, take on extra assignments and get the job done, even when allergies, sore backs or aches and pains may be hiding under the surface. Mom’s don’t get sick days.
Moms model effective leadership behaviors: From learning your colors and numbers to restaurant etiquette, moms lead by example. They know that all behavior is learned and that everyone blooms in their own time. They keep teaching the right way to do things until it becomes reflexive. And since no two kids are the same, they can do it across a wide array of personality traits.
Moms defuse tension while standing up for the team: If you’ve ever been chased by a two year old with a single minded desire for gummy bears, you know that moms develop ways to focus energy in productive directions. And woe to the person who even thinks about hurting your kid. Great moms are ready for battle, even as they pick them carefully.
Moms create systems that reward productive behaviors: Nobody knows your potential better than your mom. They expect that you’ll do your best, even in those moments of self doubt and failure. They put you back on your feet, point you in the right direction and are always there to cheer you at the finish line.
And finally, Moms create a work atmosphere that generates high results and high team member satisfaction. The best leaders recharge your emotional batteries, inspire you to continue to feed your mind, and create a work atmosphere that is a smorgasbord of opportunity at every level.
Whomever your mother role model may be, take a moment this week to thank them.. for teaching you the fundamentals of how to be a great leader.