Planning – Manage Like a Mother

posted by WMC

I took this picture on our trek of one of the most fascinating areas of my beloved Italy, the Amalfi coast. My wife Brenda and I started in Napoli with a steep walk to the top of Mount Vesuvius and a visit to the ruins of Pompei. We then started in Amalfi and walked south to Positano and then onto Sorrento, 50km over five travel days.

The trip celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary and was the realization of a goal we had set two years earlier. In fact the longevity of our marriage is largely due to having a clear vision, a high degree of commitment, careful planning and tenacious execution.

In life setting goals may be the greatest of all leadership roles and yet many do this very poorly.

Those who fail to plan, plan to fail!


Often leaders find themselves in a constantly reactive, troubleshooting mode that invariably reduces their ability to get things done and leaves their people stalled and frustrated.

Like our trip to Amalfi, many Mothers set goals well into the future as they consider their career aspirations, where to live, the type and size of family they want to have, schools, where to visit, giving back, social relationships, parental care and eventual retirement.

Then they establish a series of steps, activities and events by the year, month, week, day or hour to “make it happen”. These are sometimes activities, lessons, gatherings and routines which are planned, scheduled and executed, at times seemingly against all odds. They hold everyone to task to make it happen!

Mothers are instrumental in setting goals for themselves, their families, children and partners that are often very ambitious, stretch goals you might say. Some Mothers also have an overriding vision that anchors all of the goals and activities. For example, that a strong and united family is the most important thing in life or that individual health and happiness are paramount.

So, why don’t we just emulate their thinking and set goals against a vision, plan and stay organized?

In my previous posts including Integrity, I say that 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.

Shawna, 28 – Dream Big

It was just Shawna and her mother while she was growing up and they both led busy lives.

While working two jobs and playing on two sports teams, her mother showed her the importance of following her dreams with commitment and hard work. Nothing slowed her down as she juggled her busy schedule while still getting Shawna to baseball, dance classes, and riding lessons. Together they dreamed big, worked hard, and finished what they started. Mom made sure Shawna knew she could do anything she set as a goal and put her mind to.

Brenda always had a clear vision of how she wanted our life as a family to unfold.

Together, agree on a vision and set goals; then work tirelessly to achieve them.


Jamie, 27 – Plan Ahead

Jamie describes her mom as a superstar organizer with a gentle soul. For quite some time it was just the two of them growing up as her parents were divorced, so even though her mom is not a natural born leader, her mom took a strong lead in raising Jamie. She always planned ahead and organized and categorized tasks to make sure they would accomplish what they needed to as efficiently as possible.

Setting goals and planning lets you maneuver through life’s crap without getting put off by the smell.


Dustin, 28 – Be Organized

Dustin’s habits mirror those of his mother…she mapped out timetables for the entire family growing up. He learned the value having a physical, tangible representation of the big picture. He uses his planner and calendar to ensure he gets the most important

things done. The calendar also helps him to “always, always, always be on time” (like 10 minutes early). He laughs at the memory of the time his brother was late getting ready to leave the house and the rest of the family left without him … he was never late again!

It is noteworthy how many people link punctuality, planning, and being organized to success. I agree,

Chronic tardiness is a sure sign of someone who undermines their ability to succeed.


Deni, 28 – Honor your time commitments

Deni had a challenging family life and she learned punctuality from her mother as she witnessed her mom’s constant tardiness affect the people she’d leave waiting. At 28, Deni now chooses her commitments and plans ahead so that things get done on time. She reminds herself that her time is no more valuable than anyone else’s and keeps a keen eye on the repercussions of tardiness on her and others’ ability to get things done.

When you don’t model and demand keeping time commitments, discipline and respect drop …as does your ability to achieve goals on time.


Goal setting and planning are the cornerstone of achievement and efficiency. It forces us to develop our capabilities and skills. As we make progress we increase our overall level of confidence to set new and more ambitious goals. Success breeds success.

Many Mothers have modelled this for years, do you? Do you apply these techniques to your work?

As a refresher here are six simple steps to follow:

  1. Establish a shared vision – What is your purpose and why is it important.
  2. Identify significant barriers to attaining the vision.
  3. Establish 3-5 goals that all move toward the vision.
  4. Break each goal down into small manageable steps required to overcome barriers and achieve success.
  5. Schedule time in your and your people’s calendars to complete each of the steps.
  6. Celebrate often along the way!

When you set goals and make a scheduled plan to achieve them, you will go further and faster than you can imagine!


Let’s continue the journey by asking yourself these questions about you in the workplace:

  1.  What are this year’s three most important goals for myself and my team?  
  2. How can I break down the steps required to reach these goals and hold myself and my team accountable to make progress on a weekly basis?
  3. Who has punctuality challenges in my world and how has it affected their performance?

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?

See Mauro’s original article on LinkedIn.

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