Updated: Mar 29
Our parents are the first leaders we ever encounter in our lives. Early on they show us through their words and actions what to do and say. Some say their parents were examples of what not to do. Either way, they were influential in who we are—and we will do the same for the next generation. Having just lost my only living parent I have become reflective of the kind of leader my mom—who passed away in late January—was for me, and how this could be relevant to you. So below are three lessons learned about leadership from my mother, an Administrative Professional for over 55 years… and a stay-at-home-mom for ten more.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Whether we realize it or not we look to our leaders for guidance, often by simply observing what they do and how they do it. My mom was extremely detailed oriented, but she did it in a way that worked with her natural tendencies. We assume by putting everything away we are organized. My mom liked to leave things out and wrote out reminders and put them on top of her small piles of papers or projects so she would remember what to do, and when to do them. I operate the same way today and rarely does anything get by me. BE SEEN AS FAIR AND EVEN-HANDED A grievance workers often have is their leader is unfair or plays favorites. I have two younger brothers and one of the things my mom always did was make sure everything was fair and equitable between us. If one of us received a random gift, so did the other two. If one of us was punished a certain way and for a particular misstep, the others suffered the same wrath if they did it, too. Fairness and equality are important when it comes to leadership because it eliminates a big complaint many people have.
CARING, COMPASSION, AND EMPATHY
My mom was not a big talker, but a good listener. She was stingy with her praise but she would show my brothers and I she was proud in other ways—she showed up for everything and cheered us on. Lastly, she was not great at showing emotion, but you knew she cared based on her actions. Caring, compassion, and empathy can’t be taught. However, as a leader there are thing you can do to show your people you care. Listen intently, acknowledge even the smallest achievement, and do things that help your people achieve their goals. Dak Prescott, the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys and the 2023 winner of the Walter Payton Player of the Year Award, given to the best person in the NFL said in his acceptance speech, “My mother told me when she was diagnosed with cancer, ‘All greats have a story. Allow me to be your story.’ It was in her honor I started my foundation.” I wanted to honor my mom in this article by sharing what she taught me.