17 May 4 Lessons on Leadership for Mother’s Day
Greetings, dear readers! Since Mother’s Day is this Sunday the 13th, I (Dr. Hinson) wanted to hop on the old blog and share a couple leadership lessons I’ve learned from my fabulous Mum. Parents ‘lead’ their children, and in some cases, instill ideals of leadership, even through osmosis. I don’t know that I was aware of how much she had taught me about leadership until I sat down to write this blog. Dr. Donnelly has spoken at great length on her leadership lessons from her father, and you can find them all in our Cuppas and Convos playlist here.
This may seem like a ploy to make a connection between our Q2 intention and my blog, but I have witnessed first-hand how creativity is a huge part of being a parent. One of my favorite stories is when my mother started using tickets (of the arcade variety, I’m really aging myself here) at the dinner table. My brother and I were young, two years apart, and we started each meal with 3 tickets. Every time we misbehaved, we lost a ticket, if we lost all three tickets, the rest of our dinner was taken away and we didn’t get to eat the rest of the night. We only lost all our tickets once. This story reminds me that getting the end result takes creativity, ingenuity, and practicality.
My parents divorced when I was six, and my Mum had primary custody. Both my parents raised their children while working full-time jobs. Out of necessity, not just teaching us work ethic, my brother and I had to help around the house, doing chores every weekend. This is not to say I enjoyed them, but we had a rota posted to make sure everything got taken care of. This was something we did together. I also had the privilege of working with my mother later in life. Throughout my life, she has shown me that hard-work is necessary, but she always led by doing the work with me. Real leadership isn’t just about being able to delegate, but also working side by side with your co-workers, rolling up your sleeves and getting the work done. To this day, she is the hardest worker I know (as I write she is probably outside doing yard work).
Compassion and empathy
My mother is a caretaker, and so it’s no surprise she knew she wanted to be a nurse from 9 years of age. She is a remarkably compassionate person, always striving to see the other side of the coin, to understand other people, and is one of the most accepting people I know. One of her favorite positions is playing devil’s advocate, trying to get me to think through all possible explanations, or perspectives. Though annoying at times, her pushing me to find compassion and empathy gave me the ability to find a passion for conflict resolution and prison reform. Leadership is about knowing your people, really listening to them, trying to understand their needs and motivations, starting from a place of compassion and empathy.
Self-care (otherwise called, a mental health day)
Though both my mother and I still struggle with self-care on a day-to-day basis, perhaps the biggest lesson on leadership she has given me is the knowledge that everyone needs a break. When we were kids, my brother and I were given a set number of ‘mental health days.’ As a nurse, she was a strict enforcer on when we were (and were not) sick enough to go to school. I remember once I wanted to stay home with a cold, so I stuck the thermometer in my tea. She promptly informed me that if that was my actual temperature I would be dead, and told me to get dressed. But, she also recognized that even as kids, looking after our mental health was just as vital as our physical health. She showed us early on that recognizing and validating our emotions was important and necessary. I took many, many mental health days during my PhD, which was the hardest thing I have ever done, and I did so without guilt or self-recrimination, which would not have been possible without her. Ever leader, in every capacity, has to look after themselves so that they can look after others.
Those are my top lessons from the wonder that is my Mother. What are leadership lessons you’ve gotten from important figures in your life? Could be a parent, but I use that term broadly, we all have people in our lives that show us how to be better, how to lead. We’d love to hear some of your stories!