Motherhood and Leadership

All mothers have a unique way of relating to our mothering. Yet like most things, we all share some common threads, too.

What if one of those common threads was that we related to motherhood as leadership?

In their book, Co-Active Leadership, Karen and Henry Kimsey-House say:

“Everyone has within them the capacity to lead, and any organization or community is most dynamic, most alive, and most productive when there is a commitment to leadership at every level…Our sense of personal power and fulfillment is directly commensurate with the level of ownership we are able to take for what happens to and around us.”

What would your home be like if you took responsibility for setting the tone for your family?

As I sat through the Masters in Executive Leadership program I graduated from a few years ago, I knew that what I was learning would help me as I launched my non-profit, Heart of Leadership, but I also knew that I would apply the knowledge to how I contributed to my household.

But, I don’t think we’re generally taught to see our mothering as leadership.  When I think about how I can earn a masters degree learning how to lead businesses but won’t find courses on leading one’s family effectively, I chuckle as I am left a bit bewildered.

A bright executive client of mine recently said, “Being a mom is just something that I do. It’s different from my work where I can pursue advancement and be recognized.”

Another client of mine who had stayed at home while raising her young children was re-emerging into her career.  She said, “I feel like I am running around checking all the boxes off my list for the day.  I’ve lost the fulfillment in my mothering.”

Now, these may or may not sound like you. And, I ask you to think for a moment about whether your orientation to mothering is more reactive or responsible? And then, is mothering filling you up or depleting you?

I know many moms who joke about watching the second hand tick to the top of the 5 o’clock hour so that they can pour their nightly glass of wine. This tells me that mothering is something they need to escape from.

The demands on moms are high. I am not for one second suggesting that motherhood isn’t challenging. And, I’m also not suggesting we add another burden to our mothering by needing to be responsible for everything.

Instead, as I reference back to Karen and Henry House, we get to see our leadership not as top-down one-dimensional, but in a new, multi-dimensional way.

In order to set leadership free from a one-dimensional view, we would offer that rather than being defined by position or title, leaders are those who are responsible for their world.

And let’s be aware of how we hold the concept of responsibility:

“What if responsibility existed outside of the burden of the task, of getting the job done? What if we interpreted responsibility as a choice rather than a burden? What if the choice of responsibility generated a context of ownership and self-authorship beyond the immediate task at hand? In this new context, responsibility becomes generative and nourishing rather than weighty and burdensome.”

So, what are some of the aspects of leadership that I bring into my family?

I have led mini-retreats for my husband and I over the years where we have created and updated our family values and core tenets. We have periodic family meetings where we address aspects of our family and marriage – from finances to travel to relationship satisfaction.  And, I challenge myself to remember that I can set the tone in my family.

What happens when you take responsibility for that which shows up around you?

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