A mother is a crucial anchor in a child’s life, providing a wide range of support and guidance that helps shape their development and future success. From the moment of birth, a mother provides physical care and emotional nurturing that creates a strong bond and sense of security. And leaders do the same for their teams, don’t they? They are expected to care, nurture and grow.
Values and beliefs
Values and beliefs form the core of one’s life. Mother teaches us what’s right and what’s not; she teaches us what an ethical issue is and how to resolve a dilemma. She guides us on how to communicate with others in line with these values and beliefs. As we grow up into adulthood, she lets us review these and make the finer adjustments as we deem fit. We learn the most important life skills, such as communication, problem-solving and decision making from her. She serves as a role model for us.
As leaders, right at the time of onboarding a new member of our team, we are expected to teach them the values and beliefs of our organisation. Organisations send a document explaining their values and conduct a training programme. Are these methods fit for the purpose?
We as leaders must think about how we learnt about the values, beliefs and principles from our mothers. We have to follow those practices and thus demonstrate these consistently over time. Our members observe how we communicate with various stakeholders, resolve conflicts, address issues, seize opportunities, deal with failures, collaborate with others and so on. They learn the brass tacks from these!
Safety to Success
Our mothers not only carried us in their wombs safely for 9 months but they fiercely protect us from any harm until we are in a position to take care of ourselves. Our mothers nourished us in the best possible way at the cost of their requirements. That is why the adage goes, “Moms eat last”.
Further, she is the biggest advocate in our lives. She is always there to support and fight for her children, ensuring they have what they need to succeed. What do our leaders do?
Sometimes we find leaders busy taking credit, protecting their turf, reminding their team members of their greatness, glorifying their records and competing against the smart members of their team. They send the members who fall out of their favour to handle the tough battles and challenging encounters. Do we relate any of these behaviours to our mothers? These are the antithesis of the adage, “Moms eat last.”
As leaders, we have to nurture our team members like our mothers did. We have to make a few small sacrifices to let our team members succeed. We have to coach and guide them to success and celebrate their every small success rather than finding faults with them and snatching away the juicy or low-hanging fruits from them.
Surely, we have to get them on stretch goals like our mother kept raising the bar for us. Our mother did not keep us away from the vagaries of life forever. At the right time, she nudged us to go out, explore, fight and win. She balanced between protecting us from dangers and nudging us to accept challenges. As leaders, how well do we do this?
Letting us free and blossom
It isn’t easy for our mother to let us get out of her control and sight. Yet she knows that she has to let go if she wants her child to discover new frontiers, explore possibilities and establish an identity for himself or herself and build a new circle of influence. She encourages her child to set sail into a new future and keeps her emotional side on the back burner even if it yearns to see the child under her shadow.
What do we do as leaders? Do we plan our succession, hire smart people in our teams who could challenge us and let some of our capable team members branch out to other areas outside our span of control? How often do we see leaders protest and engineer blockades when their boss or a peer suggests moving a valuable asset from their team to another?
In short, all of us witness leadership in action from our mothers. When we come to leadership roles ourselves, we must think about the behaviours of our mothers, discover the merits in there and copy some of them to emerge as respected and successful leaders.