Empowerment – Manage Like a Mother

posted by WMC

Climbing to the top of Mount Norquay is exhilarating. Our guide Keno took this shot of me with my favorite (and only) daughter Morgan and the famous town of Banff far below us in the background.

Actually, neither Morgan or I are climbers. Sure, we are athletic and we have been on climbing walls but we had never climbed up steep rock faces in the Rocky Mountains before. So how was this possible with minimal training?

Do you struggle to get the same quality results and productivity you can deliver personally? Even more frustrating, the team is often in new roles or inexperienced like Morgan and me as “climbers”.

If you want it done right, do it yourself…. “Wrong”!


In today’s world, Leaders need to get results quickly to succeed. They must multiply their power by helping their people perform well. That is empowerment!

This is also the ‘daily quest’ of many Mothers. Their goal is not just to have their families get through day-to-day activities but to develop capable and independent members of society. Interestingly, empowerment was one of the strongest themes described by those we spoke with.

As I said in my previous posts including Integrity, and Planning, many of our Mothers are accessible and powerful role models in leadership. Let’s further explore this using stories from our person-on-the street interviews and preliminary survey results.

Ruthanne 49 – Empowerment and Work Ethic

“I grew up in a big family (5 kids) and my mother was the person in the family that looked after the kids and kept us all on track. My mom made us all responsible for our own actions, school work, money… pretty much everything. She was the opposite of micro-manager. My mom helped us all learn that we needed to work for what we wanted, to help each other and be responsible for ourselves.”

 Kylie, 21- Take initiative

Kylie’s mom worked in the oil town of Fort McMurray while Kylie and her 3 siblings grew up in Edmonton. Her sisters were much older, so they took care of her while her mother was at work but they had lives of their own. This situation helped Kylie learn the importance of taking initiative and taking care of herself at a young age. Kylie developed the ability to identify what needed to be done and to make it happen without waiting for someone to tell her to take action. She carried this high degree of initiative and empowerment in to her adult life and never looked back.

Let people learn and be accountable for outcomes.


Hani, 36 – You can do whatever you want to if you set your mind to it.

“Growing up around an extremely entrepreneurial family spanning two generations, trusting in yourself, surpassing doubt, being decisive, and pursuing your passion was a natural setting that I carried through my educational & working careers. Do things right. Do them once. Do not procrastinate.”

Mark, 37- Support and encouragement.

Mark’s mom was raised in a demanding and harsh “survival of the fittest” household. She decided to raise her own family differently. Her focus was to teach her boys to be supportive. There was never an “I told you so” regardless of if she agreed or disagreed with them, just overwhelming support and encouragement to try their best. At 37 and now a manager, Mark takes the same approach when leading his team by allowing his employees to be their best without micro-managing, robbing them of initiative or being overbearing.

 Commitment, a positive “inner game”, a safe environment all create the courage to execute


So back to our climb… we were empowered to accomplish this amazing feat using the Via Ferrata … a route of prepared anchors and supports that allow untrained climbers to safely scale and descend the mountain as if they were experts.

If you look closely, I am standing on a steel rung and the “rope” on the right is a steel cable with anchors literally bolted on to the rock face.

The supports were in place, we were encouraged and yes guided as required. In short, we were empowered to reach that summit!

Empowerment is an essential tool for leadership to drive execution. Do you empower your people by setting clear expectations? Do you support each person in the way that best helps them take full ownership and deliver?

Empowerment is about setting the stage, providing tools and support.


In the “Situational Leader”, Hersey and Blanchard teach that great leaders tailor their approach based on the task maturity and motivation of each individual. This great lesson of modern management has been used by Mothers from the start. Each child needs to be approached in a way that works for that child.

Empowerment requires five key elements:

  1. Positive Environment – the right attitude on all sides
  2. Commitment – full commitment to success
  3. Clear expectations – describe who, what, where, when and why
  4. The “Right” support – based on the needs of your people
  5. Accountability – feedback and natural consequences to learn from

Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Do I empower or do I just delegate?
  2. Do I really let my people learn from their mistakes?
  3. How can I improve accountability for outcomes?

Please tell us your story by completing our anonymous survey. We will use your stories and responses in our upcoming posts.

Will you Manage Like a Mother today?


Mauro is a director at our Calgary office. See his original LinkedIn article here.

The opinions represented here do not necessarily represent WMC’s views as a whole.