For many of us, the first example, influence, and direction we are exposed to in life comes from our mother.
We try to emulate her. Or, we try to use what we learned from watching and listening to her to gauge our own choices and decisions. It is from her nurturing and comfort (or lack thereof), that we usually learn to share and give our assets.
Even when we are grown-up, thinking that we have control of our lives and are free to do our own thing, our memories won’t let us discard the guiding principles that were instilled in us by our mother.
If we consider our formal leadership training and compare it to our informal training by our mothers – instilling values, ethics, and traits to propel us to success – we will likely find that everything we learned in the classroom, we learned at our mother’s knees.
So, when I look at what our mothers teach us about leadership and sacrifice, there is so much to choose from. Presented here are just five (5) practices that are inherent to most mothers; but something that anyone (whether in business or organization) can use to maintain success, while ensuring their followers are on board and invested in their cause.
5 Things Mothers Teach Us about Leadership and Sacrifice
1.) Leaders Man the Frontline
Mothers guide their children. But mothers also guard their children. It’s a mother’s role to ensure their children stay out of harm’s way, and that they have the tools to either protect themselves, or navigate to safety. In essence, mothers man the frontlines.
Mothers don’t hide in the bomb shelter of safety and hope that their children will find protection on their own. Similarly, leaders too, must learn how to man the frontlines of their movement. This is so their staff and supporters (their troops) have adequate cover and tools to combat obstacles.
Like our mothers, leaders must be in-tuned with what’s going on, so that the plan and direction they define are accurately executed by their subordinates. Leaders must show support when their people share with larger audiences, recruit others to the movement, or get others to buy a product or use a service.
Inasmuch as our mothers teach us to stand on the frontlines by demonstrating that the guidance they give us is more than lip service, leaders too, must show their belief and loyalty to their cause or product.
2.) The Beauty of Sacrifice Is That Giving Is Receiving
When our mothers sacrifice their own needs and desires so that their children can soar, reaching heights they only dream of, they are displaying a link between leadership and sacrifice.
Mothers realize that when they give freely to their children, they are bound to reap great fulfillment in seeing them becoming independent and making positive contributions to society. True leaders recognize that the success of their business, company, or cause is greater than their own personal success.
Leaders must also know that as they help their followers grow, they can make greater contributions to the goals of the organization. When leaders give opportunity to others, they reap benefits from the success that each person achieves.
Also, when leaders give up some of the limelight and recognize or reward the contribution of others, they empower subordinates to be even more determined to help them in their efforts to achieve success.
3.) Loyalty and Trust are Earned and Reciprocal
A good mother will not assume that her children will be loyal as they grow up, simply because she’s their mother. Instead, good mothers teach her children the meaning and importance of building trust, NOT simply by her words, but by her actions.
In this same manner, leaders build trust with their supporters, staff, and followers by exhibiting trust. Just as a mother gives her child more responsibility (over time) to demonstrate her trust and belief in them, so a leader must demonstrate trust in their subordinates by extending their level of input and contribution to the organization.
As children appreciate the trust extended to them by their mothers, so staff, supporters, and followers will appreciate the trust their leaders show them. This will create a shared belief across different levels, as well as build loyalty to the organization and the management.
4.) Leaders are Forward Thinkers – They Prepare Successors
Succession planning is one of the stalwarts of business longevity. This is something that is also learned at home. Every mother knows that her legacy (and the legacy of her family) is dependent on preparing the younger generations to take the helm.
The principles of taking the reins, continuing family traditions, and teaching family values, are followed by many mothers to ensure that their lineage is remembered and their ideals can live on for years to come. These same principles pay dividends in corporate, social, or political organizations.
Organizations can maintain (or even increase their success) by ensuring they have a strong succession plan in place so that the ideals they stand for, the level and type of services they provide, as well as the scope or quality of products they deliver, continue – even when the leadership changes.
5.) Pay It Forward Really Works
It is more than a selfless act when a mother, for instance, denies herself a new outfit to allow her child to participate in an extracurricular activity.
A mother knows that paying it forward will reap great dividends. As she takes these steps for her child, she is not only giving that child an opportunity to develop a skill or better themselves, but she is also setting a standard for them to follow.
Her act creates an ongoing chain of giving and sharing that will cross neighborhoods, cultures, and generations. Similarly, when a leader denies him/herself in favor of their subordinates, they too, create an epidemic of giving that crosses boundaries that goes beyond the mere success of a business, campaign, or cause.
It permeates into the society and spreads a sense of collaboration and camaraderie that is inspiring and motivating. When mothers teach the act of paying it forward, it spreads the message of peace and love – instead of hate and war.
So, it pays dividends over time greater than any stock market investment.
Leadership and Sacrifice Are Motherly Traits
The skill to teach is embedded in our mothers and displayed in their everyday acts of rearing their children. With or without formal training and degrees, they recognize the strength and significance of leadership and sacrifice, which they dole out matter-of-factly.
Most mothers never recognize that what they do and say can make or break large corporations, as well as lift or lower social and political campaigns. They simply go from day to day guiding and directing their children, oblivious to the fact that a mother’s knowledge of leadership and sacrifice is as strong as that of any corporate executive or public official.
There’s so much that mothers teach us everyday – we just need to pay attention.
So, if you are on the quest to find a good example of the traits needed for leadership, you may not have to look much further than that marvelous woman who nurtured you.