I’ve just enjoyed a weekend of leadership training (and got stuck in Columbus!) Since “Mom” is my main job title, I gave a lot of thought about how to apply these principles to motherhood.
So here it is: Leadership skills for Moms!
Moms are leaders in their family and to their kiddos; we can benefit from bringing a consciousness to how we behave as leaders and models for our children.
These concepts will apply to you in every aspect of your life – career, PTA, in relationships, coaching the soccer team – but let’s look at them from a Mom’s viewpoint.
This weekend’s workshop curriculum was based on Kouzes and Posner’s book, The Leadership Challenge. Through their research, they defined five practices of exemplary leaders:
1. Model the way
2. Inspire a shared vision
3. Challenge the process
4. Enable others to act
5. Encourage the heart.
Today’s post will cover the first three, check back tomorrow for discussion on principles four and five.
Using These Leadership Skills for Moms
Model the way
Isn’t that the first sentence in the Mommy Job Description? We are our children’s first role models, the one they turn to to learn about themselves and their place in the world. They look at us to learn how facial expressions reveal emotions, to see if they should cry or not when they’ve fallen down and to search our eyes for approval.
We model the way all day long, every day, whether we’re kindly carrying a bag of groceries to a sick neighbor or yelling at another driver for cutting you off. Our kids may not always listen, but they sure do always HEAR!
Have you ever puzzled over how your 2 year old started saying, “Well, actually …” or “That’s fabulous” only to find yourself saying the mature expression in your daily conversations? I vividly remember when I realized that Ali had learned how to spell our last name because she always heard me spelling it out for people on the phone.
Bottom line: Model the behaviors you want to instill. Showing is always more effective than telling. So simple, yet often so hard!
Inspire a Shared Vision
When you thought about being a Mom, what were the qualities you envisioned in your family life? Return to those ideals and then work toward rallying your family around your vision. You can create a family full of harmony, respect and kindness (well, most of the time!)
Sharing your vision begins with defining it first, write out the details, the expectations, the way you’d like your family to be with specifics. Modeling the culture you envision consistently; communicate it and expect it of the others in your family. For younger children, this comes in the form of taking a hand that hit and reiterating however many times it take, “In our family, we do not hit.” These are the beginnings of inspiring a shared vision.
Paint the picture of how things could be, lift the fog so it’s clear to every family member the direction you want to go. This means getting Dad and anyone else living in the home on board and buying into your vision. Enlist others in this common vision by appealing to shared aspirations. Ask for participation from older kids; brainstorm words that describe the culture you want to live by in your home. Through this inclusive process, your leadership skills can help guide discussion and allow others to imagine exciting possibilities for the future.
Challenge the Process
In challenging the process, we are seeking opportunities for transformation, change and growth and in so doing, we need to experiment and take risks. I always endorse guilt-free parenting. We are going to make mistakes as Moms, but it’s all about how we learn and manage those mistakes that matters.
Try something new, a new discipline technique, a fresh way to reward kids (see Encourage the heart in tomorrow’s post), a whole new way to handle the morning rush. Test out different tools and ideas, see what works for your family and be willing to fail in an effort to improve yourself and your family dynamics.
I parallel this to a child learning to walk, she’s going to teeter and fall down as she takes on this new challenge, as she learns something new; but she keeps trying and searching for opportunities and innovative ways to effect change and to achieve her goal.
As Moms, we also need to be our kids best advocate. Sometimes it in the school arena, a social setting or in the medical world. There are times we may need to push against the way things are always done, forge another pathway, fight for what our kids need to succeed.
Challenging the process takes persistence, creative energy and optimism. Moms are powerful leaders and throughout history have challenged the process and affected real change in their communities and our world.
Read more tomorrow: Leadership Skills for Moms Part 2
How do you model the way, inspire a shared vision
or challenge the process in your family?
© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2013
“Leadership is important, not just in your career and within your organization, but in every sector, in every community and in every country. We need more exemplary leaders.” – Kouzes and Posner