MLAM: Manage Like a Mother

posted by WMC

October whale-watching near Victoria, BC in an open zodiac is not for the faint hearted.  By the end of the adventure you are drenched, frozen, rattled and exhilarated. It would have been a lot easier but much less dynamic to join the hundreds of others in the heated enclosed boats!  The decision to take the zodiac was made through consultation but the idea, the direction was hers.  A true family and character building experience led by Brenda, my wife of over 30 years.  By the way, the next day all three of them ran a half marathon.

Face it, Mothers are very powerful leadership role models!  Think about it.  On a daily basis they organize, motivate, mentor, delegate and execute in a way that many executives envy. Some command a level of loyalty and respect that most leaders dream of.  Some have very clearly taught us what not to do to get results.


My passion for this topic comes from watching the Mothers in my life and seeing that their leadership skills often go unheralded.  I believe that if we keep these types of examples top of mind we can all be better leaders.

Would it not be helpful if we could emulate such role models to help guide our leadership style?  Could that be a very accessible and personal blueprint for success?

My mom, Luisa, was raised in WW2 Italy and immigrated to Canada in the mid 60’s.  She did not speak English nor have a formal education but she raised three children, overcoming all odds.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not to take away from Fathers as role models (after all I am a father myself).  My father Peter was a huge influence in my life but Mamma Luisa taught us many of the most valuable lessons in how to be a leader.  Admittedly, I was sometimes a slow learner, requiring remedial classes!

How about this example.

“Your name is all you have, would you like to see that story on the front page of the paper??”

Mothers understand integrity and branding at a visceral level and have been helping their families implement them for centuries.

Another example is how Mothers manage their home and their children differently over time.  At first there is plenty of hand-holding and supervision, but as the child grows, they are increasingly managed based on outcomes.  Mothers have found this balance for centuries… a clear analogy to situational leadership theory and organizational maturity models taught as leadership essentials.

In working with my clients I consistently see that many leaders are struggling in today’s hyper-active world.  Much like Mothers, they are over-loaded, face many competing priorities and often lack formal training.

The more I look into it, the more intrigued I become and I am hoping to share this intrigue with you.

“Leadership, like parenting inspires us to dream big and be better people; inspires us to help others succeed and to raise the bar.”

In this series I will explore this subject using my parenting, leadership, management consulting, and executive coaching experience as a guide.

We will use stories about key lessons in leadership as told by the children who learned them from their Mothers and apply them to today’s day-to-day business environment.

We will feature the themes that emerge from person-on-the street interviews and surveys conducted by our researchers.

So, I invite you join me as we start this journey.  Start by asking yourself three simple questions:

  1. What was the greatest lesson in Leadership I learned from my Mother?
  2. How can I apply that lesson today to make me and my team more effective?
  3. Who can I share this lesson with today (colleague, friend, family)?

Will you Manage Like a Mother today?

Stay tuned for the next post in this series.

Mauro Meneghetti is a Director at WMC Calgary. You can see his original LinkedIn post here.


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