We often look to business leaders and other public figures for examples of leadership. For Mother’s Day, Natalie Hastings takes a look at an influential person who often goes unnoticed.
It’s trite, though true, to say that mothers are often taken for granted. All of us have or had one at some point in our lives. And especially for mothers who played a more traditional role in the home, it’s easy to overlook the impact they can have on your career success, and what they teach you about leadership along the way.
My mom stayed home with my brother and me in our early years, and then returned to the classroom as a first-grade teacher with more than 30+ years of instruction under her belt. She was one of those squishy, gentle teachers, the type that you would hear people say were their favorites, who they would visit upon their high school graduation and offer big hugs.
Around our house, too, Mom was a softie, the kind who whistled while she washed dishes and always replied, “We’ll see,” because she didn’t like to say no. It goes without saying she made my lunch all the way through high school and woke me up every morning by saying, “Good morning, Sweetie Sugar Baby.” When I was 18.
It was only upon reflecting for Mother’s Day that I took the time to realize the leadership skills she taught me–even though she didn’t like being in charge.
Here are a few of the lessons for us all, Truths from Tricia:
- Make time to know–and listen to–everyone.
I don’t live in my hometown anymore, but I’m fairly certain I could return even in 50 years, drop my mom’s name, and get things taken care of. What I viewed as an annoyance growing up–Mom always seemed to be on the phone–I now realize was her taking the time to listen to anyone and everyone’s concerns at church, in the neighborhood–she cares, and she shows it to everyone.
Do you know the name of the person in your office who takes out the trash, or who brings the mail? Do you know what’s going on in the lives of your immediate team members? Take the time to really know them.
- Stay true to your values.
My mom is not going to compromise her (somewhat strict) values for anyone or anything. For example, MTV was banned in our house. I didn’t see the movie Dirty Dancing until college. We weren’t even allowed to say butt (which we sometimes sad on purpose for a reaction. Let’s not even talk about what Mom thought when the song “Wild Thing” by Tone Loc was on the radio.
She is a woman who cares about grammar even when texting and on social media. When it comes to being true to her values, she never lets her guard down.
- Always remain your authentic self.
I remember in high school being very disappointed that my mom’s collection of 1970s clothes were all powder blue. I’m a vintage nerd, and I love anything bright and obnoxious. But that’s not Mom. Mom is powder blue. Blue looks good on her, and so she wears it. Period.
Leaders can’t be moved by what’s trending in the lunchroom. So take a lesson from Tricia.
- Look for the diamonds in the rough.
Mom loves to shop in thrift and discount stores and discover a treasure that everyone else missed (for a fraction of the price, of course). She’s always looking to find that diamond in the rough, the treasure others miss.
She was that way with her students, too. I’ve heard Mom say that some of her favorite kids were the ones who misbehaved, and I know she loved to see them turn into upstanding contributors to society.
What, or who, are you missing out on because you didn’t take the time to see potential?
- When in doubt, cook an egg casserole.
Whenever someone dies in her community or family, Mom makes an egg casserole. I call it the “Who Died” casserole. When people lose a loved one, they often receive many meals or flowers, but most people don’t think about what the out-of-town relatives are going to eat for breakfast. That’s OK because Mom does.
She doesn’t wait for someone to tell her what they need. She thinks of what she would need in the situation, and does that.
As a leader, are you anticipating the needs of your team? How can you put systems in place so that you can care for your employees?
This Mother’s Day, take a moment to remember the influential women who have taught you important lessons, whether they taught them from the boardroom or from the kitchen sink.
This article was written by Natalie Hastings and Scott Mautz.