Motherhood: The Ultimate Leadership Lesson

The leader’s leader - Tracie L. James
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Becoming a mother almost 30 years ago completely changed my life. I was only 18, so I was neither prepared nor felt capable of what was in store for me. 

Having my sons, Terrance and Mikal, turned out to be the best thing in my life as I was forced to acquire and apply life lessons and competencies that I may have otherwise missed out on. 

After some reflection, a significant number of these lessons hold the same value for me as a leader. Being a mother who is an entrepreneur, I am always on the lookout for ideas and insights to make my life better.  

Here are some of the things I have discovered along the way that may be useful for you. 

Embrace the unknown 

Being a mom has taught me not to fear the unknown but instead embrace the journey. I have learned to enjoy figuring it out as I go. Raising kids and running a business has been unknown territory, full of many challenges. For me, the big takeaway is to use moments of accomplishment, big or small, as fuel to have the courage to go after every goal.  

Focus on others 

As a mom, I learned the importance of putting my children first. Many believe that women risk losing themselves to motherhood. In some ways, they are right, but I consider the woman I have become to be so much better than the one I was. Investing in your children is a great thing. As a leader, it is important to invest in your team so they shine brightly.  

Laugh in the midst 

At times, raising kids can be aggravating and frustrating. They can often be relentless. Because of that, I have learned to laugh instead of crying or screaming. Our work can be unrelenting and ever-changing as well. The best way to cope is to gain some perspective and see the humor in things when they do not always turn out as expected. 

Taking responsibility 

It never fails that no matter how hard I try, I have made mistakes as a mother. I never wanted to admit it early on, but I have learned that children learn more from your example. Understanding that we all make mistakes or make wrong choices enabled me to have empathy and show understanding to others. As leaders, we strive to set the right example, but we must be accountable when we fail. We must be willing to show our team how they should respond in these times.  

Live in the now 

I have learned to be mindful to avoid worrying about what the future can hold. It can be hard to stay in the moment when you are raising kids, but it is important to take time to live in the present. When you learn to be present, you will be more productive, creative, and grateful. These are the same results we want from our teams. Learn to consider the future without taking up residence there.  

See Also
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Push or let go 

Being a mom has taught me when to keep pushing and when to let go. Every parent struggle with when to push their child and when to let go and let them do what they want. When you let go, you know there is a chance that they might fall or fail. As their mother, I do not want them to be hurt, but I know it is important for me to prepare them for the real world, for becoming an adult. It is the same with your team members. As a leader, we must desire for them to think independently and pursue their goals aggressively. Give them enough rope to explore their own ideas and develop their own solutions, and, if needed, be there to step in and correct them. Finding the right balance is what determines effective leadership. 

Be flexible 

As a mom, you quickly learn a valuable lesson about babies: no matter how hard you try, you cannot control their moods and their needs like you can with your work. This teaches you to be flexible and to just roll with the unexpected. Having the flexibility to adjust when circumstances around you change is an important skill for leaders to master. You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond to it.  

I have learned so much from being a mom that I could go on and on. I have shared my top lessons with you. I hope these will help you not only as a leader, but also as a mom.  

Feel free to contact me with any feedback and/or suggestions for this column. 

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