Some might think Mother’s Day is an odd excuse to talk about leadership. After all, mothers are perceived as the embodiment of care, emotional intelligence, and unconditional love, aren’t they? So, How does that fits into the model of modern leadership?
Care, emotional intelligence and unconditional love don’t match with the broadly established notion of a leader: a fearless and aggressive Alpha Male who knows all the answers and what needs to be done in any given situation. That idea is a relic of the past. These days, such dictatorial, micromanaging behavior is more likely to be seen as a sign of insecurity in a supervisor.
The modern view probably comes from the fact that younger generations don’t like to be told what to do, and believe that teamwork results in a better outcome than solo action. The supervisor can’t possibly know it everything, so it’s important that the leader listens to the specialized opinion of each team member.
Steve Jobs once said The best idea wins, regardless if it’s mine or not. If that doesn’t happen in your organization, the most talented people will eventually leave.” It’s safe to say that he probably never hired a micro-manager, no matter how great the short term results were, as such behavior would eventually tear the team apart.
Traits of Today’s leader
Today’s leadership has a great portion of a mother’s magic touch:
- Caring for others is an essential aspect of a leader’s role. It’s one of the rare things that can’t be taught nor mimicked; it’s as instinctive as a mother’s for her child. And when someone cares about you, you know it! Primarily when it extends to everything about you as a person, and not just your job. Such mentoring strengthens bonds which can last a lifetime. If you treat your team member as a person instead of a means to an end, you are halfway there!
- Emotional intelligence is also key to modern leadership. It can be simply described as bearing in mind the feelings of the person in front of you. An excellent way to do this is to put yourself in their position to understand how they might experience each situation, good or bad.
It’s nott accidental that in family-owned businesses, the mother is so often called as the Chief Emotional Officer (CEO). She is the one that all family members will go to when they have a complaint about some other family member.
- In the past, unconditional love would be considered a dubious leadership trait at best. But, in the same way, you wouldn’t disown your child for bringing home bad marks, you should not lay off people for a few wrong moves.
At least, not without looking into why they are struggling and attempting to help them address their issues. So-called servant leadership’ is now gaining traction and it’s considered one of the most efficient ways to motivate people. It flies in the face of the idea that being placed in a leadership position is a promotion. In a way, it is a demotion as it makes you responsible for supplying everything your people need to do the job.
The same way that a mother serves her family with love and watches her children grow to need her less and less.
Whether you are a mother or not, it is such maternal skills that your team expects from you.. You should accept it as part of the job and get the emotional rewards that come with it, or your most talented people will soon leave the nest.
PS: Dedicated to my mom, the best leader I ever had.
Editor: Special thanks and credits for editing to Mandi Millen.