If you don’t think that moms are leaders, here’s a small experiment for you to try.
For the next week or so stop providing any sort of leadership for your family, and see how things go. Watch how little gets done around the place. Will your kids get to school on time? Will your kids, you know, get themselves up, get themselves breakfast, get on with the show and keep things rocking and rolling? I don’t know if they will – mine wouldn’t! Will your home be a peaceful, serene place to be? I can imagine what would be quite a depressing time; I can imagine it being quite stressful; and I can imagine routines falling apart.
Mothers are leaders, and if mothers are leaders then mother should have leadership training.
There are all kinds of leaders in the world. Good leaders and poor leaders; leaders who force their people to obey, and leaders who inspire their people; so-called leaders that throw their hands up in despair at the first sign of trouble, or leaders that you admire, and when you look at them you wonder, “Wow, how did that person deal with such pressure and such adversity, such challenges, and still come out on top at the end of the day?”
Sometimes it might not even be obvious that they will come out on top of it, but a good leader manages to steer his team through to the goal no matter what.
Jim Collins in his book “Good to Great” outlines 5 levels of leadership, the first one being the easiest to attain, and going all the way up to what he calls a Level 5 Leader. The Level 5 Leader provides the highest type of leadership, and really sets their businesses and organizations apart from their competition.
Following is a brief description of each level of leadership. As you read this, Mom, I want you to think about the people you manage and interact with, see where you fit right now, and where you could be in a year or two. I’ve used ‘she’ because I think that moms everywhere need to see themselves as leaders!
Collins calls a Level 1 Leader a highly capable individual. She is someone who has the necessary skills, talents and knowledge, combined with good work habits. She is a really useful person (sounds like Thomas the Tank Engine!) and with confidence and a good work ethic, manages herself and doesn’t need a lot of follow up. She gets a lot done.
Then there’s a Level 2 Leader, a contributing team member. At this point, she is more of a team player. She is someone who can get along with other people as well as doing her own work. She is good at working with people in a group setting, and contributes to the success of group objectives. She doesn’t distract from the team; she knows that working together, they will get far more done than separately.
By the time you get to a Level 3 Leader, you find a competent manager. This person not only works well herself; she organizes other people and resources to guide her team towards a predetermined goal. But you’ll notice that even at this point, she is not setting her own goals – she is getting a lot out of others with her, to work towards someone else’s goal.
A Level 4 Leader is getting interesting. Really interesting. Because this is where the leader is inspiring her people to commit to her vision; to pursue something that will require stretching; to settle only for the highest performance. Jim Collins calls this an effective leader.
(Pause for a moment here and consider how our households would be if each member was inspired to be the best. The best at the simple things of a household: keeping our rooms nice, doing our homework, and taking care of each other!)
Level 4 Leaders not only get things done, they not only get others to work, but they get others to commit to the vision and to the goal that they themselves are committed to. Now imagine the difference that could trigger in your own household and in your own family. What if instead of hammering at your kids to for-goodness-sakes-be-on-time-and-do-your-homework and that kind of thing – what if instead of that, you could inspire them to buy into your vision of a well-run household, and good education, and all the small steps that it takes to get there.
That’s the difference between a Level 3 and a Level 4 Leader; a Level 4 Leader is inspiring and causing others to buy into her own vision. Then, because they have bought into the vision, it is no longer a chore and a challenge to get them to act on it. It becomes their vision too, so a Level 4 Leader really has motivated their people so much, that they are wanting to be part of this exciting journey, and committing and moving forward on their own volition.
Some people refer to a Level 5 Leader as an executive, although Collins simply stays with a Level 5 Leader. If you really want to become a top-notch, ace, executive mother, you’re going to want to get this leadership thing down pat.
A Level 5 Leader is a unique blend of personal humility and professional will. Jim Collins in his book “Good to Great” refers to the window and the mirror: a Level 5 Leader looks in the mirror when something goes wrong, and out the window when something goes right. In other words, when something goes wrong he takes responsibility for whatever went wrong. He looks in the mirror and sees his own reflection and says that “It’s that guy’s responsibility.” But when something goes right, he looks out the window at his people, and he says, “Those people are the ones that have made my success; those people are the ones that I couldn’t do without; those people are the reason that this has gone right.”
Now consider how different that is to how we usually react. Naturally, when something goes wrong, we want to avoid the blame; and if something goes wrong right we want the credit. But this is the opposite; this is what sets apart Level 5 Leaders.
You can think of great people in history and see for yourself how this has played out. One easy example is Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister during World War Two. He showed this humility when he rightly said, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” He gave the credit to the soldiers on the battlefield. Had things gone wrong, though, the responsibility would have been on his shoulders and he knew it. He also had the professional will mentioned above, as when he stated, “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”
Well, Mom, you and I are not likely to face the monumental responsibility that Winston Churchill faced. But we do have the responsibility on us of providing leadership to our children, and being a leader does not necessarily mean being a public leader.
Our kids are watching us, whether we notice it or not. Even though we sometimes feel like we can’t get their attention, they are watching. Even when we feel like they’re deliberately ignoring us, and ignoring what we’re trying to teach them, they are watching. They are watching how we react; they are noticing what our goals are; they know what we put our time into; they are watching.
You can see then how much it matters to be a competent leader, and to be leading in the right direction. If you’re not leading adequately, you won’t be inspiring them to follow in the right direction.
So what kind of a leader are you now? What kind of a leader are you going to be tomorrow? Are you going to change your leadership style? Are you going to aim to be a Level 5 Leader?