I recently discovered a journal from six years ago written during the last few days of my mother's life. At the time, she was 92 years old and in hospice care. I was compelled to record my thoughts and feelings so that I could always remember certain things about her that I never wished to forget. As I read through my notes, I wasn't surprised to find that my reflections revealed that my mom was a natural born leader. Although she was never CEO of a Fortune 500 company, she possessed many of the significant qualities inherent in our most successful leaders.
Over the years, she was a fair and even-handed, positive and persuasive, hard working, determined leader of our family. But most of all, she knew how to draw out the best in each one of her seven children.
Here are 4 leadership lessons I learned from my mother:
Fair and even-handed leaders keep an open mind and do not make snap judgements.
Each one of my mother's children presented her with a combination of joys and challenges. By working through difficulties with a determined patience and reverence for our variable paths, she honored our strengths and differences in equal measure.
Positive and persuasive leaders are able to influence others through loving persistence.
In her own way, my mother was a masterful negotiator. She could always see the proverbial silver lining in all situations. A leader must be able to negotiate while leaving all parties feeling there has been a "win" on both sides of the table and walk away with a constructive outlook on the future.
The best leaders are able to trust and let go of control.
"This too shall pass" were words my mother lived by. As a leader, you must learn how to let go and trust. Some of the most successful leaders are capable of relinquishing control when necessary, and trust others with the truth. This requires having faith in the abilities of the people that you lead as well as providing enduring support.
Humble and courageous leaders know how to weather the storm -- with grace.
My mother was brought to her knees at the age of 65 when my father announced that he wanted a divorce. At a time when she thought she would be able to relax and enjoy life a little, this proved to be her greatest challenge. As tough as it was for her, she eventually moved on, accepting what was next in her life and even pointing out the positives of her 36-year marriage. She faced an earth-shattering life crisis with incredible dignity, humility and courage.
I believe that we can learn a great deal about life -- and business -- just by being trusting, unpretentious and hopeful leaders who strive to serve others. As I move forward in life, I am so grateful for my mother's ubiquitous knowledge, refined sense of self, and ever-present wisdom. Thank you, Mom, for leading the way.