In Leadership Skills for Moms part one, I applied the principles from Kouzes and Posner’s book, The Leadership Challenge to motherhood. As Moms, we certainly hold many leadership roles, whether we acknowledge that label or not, we ARE leaders.
Where are your leadership strengths? How do you want to grow as a leader? What’s one thing you can do today to take a step to become the Mom Leader you envision?
Based on their research, Kouzes and Posner defined five practices of exemplary leadership:
1. Model the way
2. Inspire a shared vision
3. Challenge the process
4. Enable others to act
5. Encourage the heart.
In Leadership Skills for Moms part one, I discussed model the way, inspire a shared vision and challenge the process. Here, let’s talk about the last two principles, enabling others to act and encourage the heart.
Using These Leadership Skills for Moms
Enable Others to Act
How do you get a 3 year old to put on his shoes so you can get out the door? How do you get a 7 year old to pick up his Lego’s? Get a 12 year old to clean her bedroom? A 15 year old to do his homework independently?
Getting our kids to do the stuff we want and need them to do is a daily challenge; we have to do this over and over and over and it’s often one of the areas of greatest frustration in parenting.
This principle doesn’t say “get others to do things we want,” though. It talks about ENABLING, meaning, giving away your power to someone else. Enable is defined as giving someone the authority or means to do something, to make it possible. Synonyms are empower, authorize, permit. Doesn’t that mental shift become so different from “getting our kids to do things”?
So instead, how do you empower a 3 year old to put on his shoes so you can get out the door? How do you enable a 7 year old to pick up his Lego’s? A 12 year old to clean her bedroom? Different ideas come to mind just by simply shifting that mindset. As all things parenting, it takes creative energy, brainstorming and trying new things.
Giving choices, encouraging independence, making an activity exciting or working toward helping a child find inner motivation to complete a task or adopt a behavior are all part of enabling others to act.
Encourage the Heart
I love this one and believe the other skills often pivot upon this principle. If you do not encourage the heart, build your children up, notice the good things they do, point out the positives, then they can’t buy into your vision for the family; they’re more likely to resist and push back.
However, I caution parents not to dole out hollow praise. Kids feel the insincerity and studies have shown this false “esteem-building” behavior by parents to be detrimental to children instead of creating the intended effect.
Kids absolutely need to have genuine and honest praise when it’s deserved. Acknowledging positive and desired behaviors is the best way to elicit repeated good behaviors, but praising every stroke your child scribbles, or mindlessly saying, “good job,” isn’t encouraging the heart.
Carol Cooke’s book “America’s Answer to the Tiger Mom: How to Raise Successful, Happy Children” does a fantastic job of explaining this concept. She also gives parents concrete tools so we can help our kids develop a feeling of security, confidence in their abilities to succeed, a sense of self and their worth and many more truly valuable skills that as Moms we want to instill and encourage in our children.
For Moms, encouraging the heart means you’re shining a mirror for your child to see his own strengths and achievements, it means allowing him to take pride in something and know he did it. Encouraging our kids hearts is what we do every day when we stroke our daughter’s cheek while snuggling, when we kiss our son’s skinned knees (and elbows, and forehead …) and when we listen to them – and really hear them.
Unconditional love is what it’s all about! Loving our kiddos without strings, not because of what they do or don’t do, but because of who they are authentically.
Leadership Skills for Moms in a Nutshell
We use these five leadership principles in varying degrees and with differing levels of ability. We may be strong in one area and weaker in another. Reflect on how you lead your family, what skills do you want to focus on improving? Being exceptional leaders is a continuing journey of self reflection and discovery – just like motherhood.
© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2013