Not very long ago, being a mother and a working professional were seen as mutually exclusive. Women were expected to hold down the household while their husbands went off to grow their careers, unable to grow beyond the roles of wife and mother. Today women are dominating the workforce, leading global initiatives, and often outshining their male counterparts in a variety of ways. What’s important to remember, however, is that for women who decide to be full-time mothers rather than juggle career and motherhood are just as accomplished.

Women of the 1950s, 1960s, and today were always leaders, even when not in a “traditional” leadership role. Motherhood may be one of the most rewarding, educational, and difficult leadership roles to take on--and for women and men who don’t yet have children, there’s much to learn from them and always more than meets the eye.

Below we share just a few of the ways Moms are the definitive leaders for any generation:

Positive Feedback

When a child is constantly criticized, she/he can become insecure, often resorting to poor behavior because there is no incentive to behave well. Similarly, in a professional setting, employees become apathetic when their bosses only criticize without acknowledging progress. People naturally want to please someone who recognizes the potential in them. Mothers often learn the power of constructive criticism--others should follow in their footsteps.

Fail Forward

When children grow older, mothers give them responsibility and permission to make mistakes. This helps children learn problem solving skills and also that it’s okay to fail. Being able to fail with grace and convert a failed opportunity into a learning experience or a new venture is a critical skill for multiple situations. Where does this skill often begin? In childhood. Thanks, Mom.

Flexibility

Mothers often have to be flexible to accommodate the needs of their children. This includes being flexible with their time, personal priorities, and self-care. How many mothers do you know have braved through a cold (often acquired from their kids) to shuttle their children off to soccer practice, or stay up late helping a daughter or son with their homework? More than we can count.

Multitasking Prowess

Multitasking isn’t necessarily the optimum way to handle looming tasks but sometimes it’s unavoidable. For those of us pursuing new initiatives or roles as activists, employees, friends, and for some others--moms--being able to juggle multiple tasks, thoughts, ideas, and “to-do” lists can be critical to moving the needle for a cause or project. Mothers become #1 Multitaskers. Single mothers, especially those with multiple children, become adept at multitasking out of necessity; they are admirable leaders everyone should look up to.

Empathy

The second a child is born, an entire life changes. Personal needs become secondary to the needs of children. Empathy is one of the most important qualities for today--especially in the contentious climate that we live in. The more of us that can become empathetic in the way mothers must with their children, the more attuned we can be to the needs of one another, and the world at large. The best leaders are empathetic leaders, the greatest initiatives are borne from the minds of the most kind among us.

There is so much that non-mothers can learn from mothers--both full-time mothers and mothers juggling career pursuits. Everyday--not just on Mother’s Day--we should pay homage to the mothers among us, who are setting the precedent for strong leadership.

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