I have many great memories of my mom.
She was an educator and administrator by profession, and clearly a teacher and mentor at heart. She cared immensely about helping people learn how to learn, and connected with them in ways that made learning transformational as opposed to merely academic.
Many of the basic lessons of business leadership that I’ve learned throughout my career had their preceptive beginnings with the lessons I learned through mom. I call it my MomBA. If the MBA is considered the gold standard of academic preparation for business, the MomBA is perhaps the cultural equivalent for leadership.
Here are a few lessons from my MomBA.
Lead With Both Strength and Compassion
Mom could be tough as nails and held high expectations for everyone.Yet she knew how to balance her head with her heart.Compassion is not often thought of as a business asset.But it is whenever the bar for achievement is set high enough.In that case it becomes a key emotional support through which people perform at their best.Business leaders who employ the time tested methods of mom’s who have the guts to be firm yet compassionate are likely to enjoy a more engaged workforce.
The Importance of Encouragement and Inspiration
Because of this mix of head, heart and guts I learned from mom that a sense of vision, mission and inspiration speak volumes into our capacity for work. When a team is encouraged, empowered, and inspired there is a much greater likelihood of their goals being accomplished. It creates the right kind of environment to celebrate victories, learn from mistakes, and to find inspiration for the days agenda. The MomBA celebrates the efforts, and not just the wins. Building not just the wisdom to follow but the confidence to act. Lifting our minds toward a greater, epic opportunity pulls us through those daily mundane tasks that make it happen. Which leads to the next lesson.
Mundane Tasks are Where the Real Value is Created
It begins with chores from childhood and continues into the responsibilities of adolescence. From doing the dishes to doing the homework – the MomBA is where I learned how to show up day after day and do the work. Especially those things I really don’t want to do. There is no way to avoid some level of mundane tasks. Whether is writing performance reviews, writing code or balancing the checkbook, it’s the small hour long efforts that culminate in the valuable things that matter. It takes a practiced level of grit and discipline to consistently do those kinds of things. Before any leader can lead the charge, they must first be able to charge the hill of their own responsibilities.
Finish What You Start
I may pick up on more of my dad’s traits here, because I enjoy starting things more than finishing things. It’s an entrepreneurs curse. But mom held an innate skill in prioritizing how to get things done. Part of the formula was good old fashioned hard work. Yet another part seemed to be staying with a project until it was done. She saw how the completion honored the effort. If something was not worth completing, then it probably wasn’t worth the effort. I’m learning that kind of prioritizing discernment is an adaptive remedy for the entrepreneurs curse. I’m glad it was in my MomBA curriculum.
I Believe in You and Am For You
This is the most personal. Therefore it is probably the most powerful for members of your team, especially your employees. Team members that feel a sense of advocacy and investment on the part of their leaders in their success have the greatest likelihood of superior performance. They experience the right blend of coaching, coaxing, and collaboration that affirms their contributions and not just their outcomes. People produce better when they feel valued as people before producers. If that is not in your leadership repertoire, then I’d suggest some MomBA training from a nearby mom, even if it’s not your own.
Those are but a few of the things I learned during my MomBA training. There were clearly a deeper and more personal form of education and training for business leadership.
Those lessons held an even greater poignancy over the past week. Mom died last week at age 86. She was a beautiful, strong and tender woman who as a teacher, principal and administrator touched thousands of lives. Her tumultuous yet dignified battle with Alzheimer’s spanned an unprecedented 14 years. The class, compassion and strength she carried influenced me in unforgettable ways.
This post is a tribute to her (pictured above), and all that she represents to leaders who find some of their greatest lessons in the masterful ways that moms lead.
I love you mom.