Lead Like a Mom

Posted 10.29.2010

With the beginning of a new group coaching cohort, I’ve been spending some time this week in one on one calls with high potential leaders to review their 360 degree feedback data. One of the calls was with a leader who I’ll call Nancy.  She’s a long term high performer with her company and the mother of two high school students. 

It was easy to see from Nancy’s 360 report how well thought of she is by her colleagues and our conversation made it clear why she is.  She’s smart, confident, humble and has equal measures of focus on results and relationships.  Using our online reporting system, we started reviewing her data by looking at the items that were rated highest by her colleagues.  To get things started, I asked her to look at her highest rated items as if she was looking at someone else’s report and give me a headline that summed up what she saw in the data.  With just a few moments of thought, she laughed softly and said, “It looks like a mom.”

The 360 I use is comprised of 72 leadership behaviors based on the research behind my book, The Next Level.  I’ve had hundreds of client conversations about the survey and have never before heard someone say that their results look like a mom.  When I looked at Nancy’s results with the mom lens on, though, I immediately agreed.  

Nancy’s highest rated behaviors ranged between a 4.44 and a 4.69 on a 5.00 point scale.  Yes, she’s good.  With her permission, let me share those high rated items with you.  Put your mom glasses on and see if you agree with Nancy:

  • Demonstrates a strong desire to see her team succeed.
  • Balances personal priorities at home, at work and in the community.
  • Exhibits openness and honesty in her communications.
  • Gives her team the space to come up with their own solutions.
  • Acts as a coach to her team rather than doing the work for them or micro-managing the work.
  • Presents a positive image for the organization in the broader community.
  • Asks questions to clarify the direction and gather needed information.
  • Consistently demonstrates mental acuity and engagement.
  • Is clear about the outcomes that need to be achieved and communicates those to the team.
  • Genuinely listens to others without dominating the conversation.

So, if you insert the word “kids” wherever you see “team” or “organization” does that sound like the kind of mom or dad you’d like to be?  How about the kind of leader you’d like to be?  Maybe there’s not that much difference between best in class in either category.  What do you think?