The Leadership of Moms

Many of us had someone (or if we were extra lucky… many someones) in our life who not only gave us wise counsel but also shared encouragement, ideas, and resources with us so that we might stretch beyond what we thought we were capable of. On the heels of Mother’s Day, I fondly remember my mother in that role.  

Steve Jobs once said, “Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do, while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could.”  

If I’m honest, by this definition, my mom was both a manager and leader in my life. She indeed spent a fair amount of time persuading me to do things I did not want to do. But she also led me to dream… and dream big. She refused to accept the limitations I would often put on myself. For example, after sharing with her that I had turned down (or essentially run from because of my own insecurities) an opportunity to keynote an event early in my career… she asked if it was something I wanted to do? I replied that, while it would be great to have that ability to motivate and inspire others, I was more of a good “content trainer” with small groups rather than a great keynote speaker for big crowds. Her response?  “I wonder what might be possible and what it would take if you decided you could be a great keynote speaker?” The subsequent discussion was about what would I need to do, learn, or explore to become that which I dreamed about but for which I doubted I possessed the ability. That is leadership.  

This week, consider whether you manage or lead others in your life—at home, at work, in your community. Do you cajole or persuade people to do things they do not want to do? Or do you inspire in them the untapped potential to do or become anything they want? Do you speak to them with demands and ultimatums, or do you ignite them with powerful questions and positive encouragement?  

There are times that require management, but don’t confuse it with true leadership. Great leaders create clarity, possibility, and the inspiration for someone to take a step (or maybe even a big leap) toward that clarity and toward their big, bright future.  

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”

~ John Quincy Adams


    1. Thank you, Linda! I’m so glad she got to be there and see me so happy before she passed.

    1. Ahhh, thank you, sweet friend. She loved you and was proud of you too! We were lucky to have such good Moms.

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