Over the weekend, we celebrated and gave thanks for our mothers. It is a time when we reflect on the way our lives have been shaped and influenced by our mother. As I reflected on the impact my mother has on my life, I realized that her influence is one of the primary things that has shaped how I view leadership. Indulge me as I list at least four leadership lessons I have learned from my mom.
I learned what servant leadership is. Even before I knew what to call it, I saw my mom demonstrating servant leadership. I routinely saw her putting the needs of others first and challenging people to become the greatest at whatever they do. She not only did that for her children, but she did it for others. In every “community” where she is active, she is first a servant.
I learned to do what is best for the organization. Mom always did what was best for the family. That was her primary concern. Self-denial was not uncommon. When a leader puts the needs of the organization first, it makes the organization stronger, making the leader stronger along with everyone else. There are situations when this is extremely difficult to do and it is in those times that the true character of the leader manifests itself.
I learned that there is something greater. As a Christian, Mom taught me that there is something greater – greater than family, greater than any organization. There is a Creator and He is greater than all. As leaders, we must take into account the impact that we have on those closest to us as well as on the organization. But there is something greater than those things – there is the impact that we have on the community and on the world. Leaders must not only take the blinders off and see more than just what impacts our own lives, but we must see how we are impacting the world around us. As a Christian, it is our duty to live honorable lives before our God. And even for those who do not believe in God, there is still something greater. The impact we have on the organization, the community and the world will outlive us, so we must remember that there is always something greater.
I learned that it is reason enough to do something simply because it is the right thing to do. Too often we want to measure how some action will be viewed by others. How many pats on the back we will get when we do a certain thing. When we fall into that mindset, the motive for the action is no longer based on simply the good that will come, but it becomes more about me. My mom taught me that doing something simply because it is right is sufficient. We need to recognize that when we switch into justification mode, it is probably a good indicator that what we are contemplating is not the best thing. That should be a warning sign for us to pause, take a step back and consider our decision. Again, there are times when doing the right thing is not the easiest path. In reality, it might not be the easiest path at that moment, but if we could look down the path of the future, we would see that when we do the right thing, the path we lay for ourselves is in fact the easiest path for the journey.
Thanks mom. You have helped me be a better person and a better leader.