Male corporate leaders have a lot to learn from mothers. History has shown that mothers have been marginalized because they’re not “working” at a job. Gratefully, our modern society is slowly learning that mothers put out more value to the community than we have ever realized.
I argue that a mother’s most valuable trait is leadership. Not only do mothers have to deal with the difficult, and sometimes impossible, odds of living in a world accustomed to men, they succeed with grit and determination as well. I submit that mothers are society’s best leaders.
This post is about empathy. Society often does not give mothers the recognition that they deserve. Behind the diapers and baby bottles, there is a mom who’s success directly impacts our community. Isn’t that what leaders do? Aren’t leaders supposed to make an impact? Here’s my take on why leadership is a mother’s most valuable trait.
Mothers have to prioritize
Growing up, my mom had a monthly calendar displayed next to the kitchen table. My mom put everything on that calendar, and it looked like a confusing mess. However, I cannot recall a time when she forgot to pick one of us up from baseball practice, piano lessons, or church activity. Not only did she have those things, but she also balanced the budget, made insurance calls, fought with schools, negotiated appointment times, and still had enough time to help us with homework.
A mother’s schedule centers on the affairs of the family, which is a difficult task. She chooses which is the essential task to accomplish at the moment. Often, mothers have to choose between a shower or doing laundry. Mothers also have the impossible decision of taking care of children by being a-stay-at home mother, or by working full-time. How can a mother make an impossible decision while under society’s scrutiny? It’s because leaders don’t lead to please others.
True leaders do what’s right for the common good. Mothers do what’s right for the common good.
Mothers have to prioritize. The most important task is the one that the mom accomplishes. Mothers have to shift focus often because of the competing demands on her time. Despite this challenge, mothers often adapt to their changing environments because it is the right thing to do, rather than because it’s convenient for her.
Mothers know sacrifice better than anyone
Mothers do this every day. Mothers have to sacrifice their time, talents, and energy for the betterment of society’s future. Their child/children will go out to corporate one day and get blasted by an unforgiving working world. Yet, it is mothers who choose to teach their children the necessary social skills, cultural norms, and grit that is necessary to succeed in life. That sacrifice is substantial.
The tragedy behind a mother’s sacrifice is that society does not fully acknowledge it. We, in the United States anyway, have pitifully low maternity days following the birth of a child. Some policies are only three months before having to return to work. Also, paternity days are virtually non-existent for fathers, which further burdens the mother. So the sacrifice increases. If a new mother does not have familial support, the sacrifice is even greater. A mother bears another burden alone.
Good Leaders also sacrifice and bear burdens alone. Leadership is lonely, and mothers carry that loneliness often. Their partners have to go to work following the birth of a child. The children are misbehaving, and she’s the only one to quell the disruption. And maybe her partner is upset with her for some reason. Each of these, and more, are difficult challenges that mothers face each day. She has to navigate these difficulties with the support systems that she has. However, the most difficult challenge of all is that she cannot quit.
Employees and leaders alike can change their jobs whenever their current employment is insufficient. With some time and resources, people can change their profession with fluidity. Mothers do not have this convenience. Their whole world relies on them. Quitting is not an option.
I’ll give one last example of sacrifice. In Simon Sinek’s book Leaders Eat Last, he talks about the Marine Corps and how the Marines line up to eat. The “Chow Line” is a ritual for the Marine Corps and the military. The lowest ranking person is the first to go through the chow line, followed by each subsequent rank until the top. The most senior ranking person eats last.
Mothers do this every day. They prepare each meal for their child/children and sit down to eat only after the children have their food. And, mothers get interrupted with the constant requests for condiments or child unappreciation. The mother eats last because she realizes that she leads the family.
Mothers are resourceful
Tapping into a network is critical in the professional world. Employees bring value to companies because of their connections. Mothers do the same thing. Social media pages are full of motherhood advice, baby products, and activities for kids. Moms plan for these things because their friends tell them about it.
Mothers take advantage of their social circles. They faithfully contribute to their friends and ask for advice/help when they need it. It’s a critical give/take system that mothers need.
Leaders do this all of the time. The reciprocity rule is underway in the corporate world just as much as a mother’s social circle. If mothers can execute this at a smaller scale, then they’re capable of doing it elsewhere too.
Mothers understand prioritizing, sacrificing, and resourcing just as well as anyone. They manage a home and a family with precision. Moreover, they are the ones that are leading every day. Mothers have more quantifiable days of leadership experience than most do in a corporate setting.
I hope that the HR representatives at companies do not discount the experience of ‘homemaker’ on a resume. Also, mothers must be recognized as active contributors to society and the economy as a whole. Without mothers, we would not have a functional community.
What leadership traits have you seen displayed by your mother at home? Leave them in the comments below. Thanks for reading!