Leadership lessons from the stay-at-home mom

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Often within credit unions, especially in small shops, we speak of the “numerous hats” syndrome, as we struggle to survive in the whirlwind of the day to day operations that demand our time and talents.  We expend extraordinary amounts of energy to ensure that operations flow smoothly and without interruption. In this relentless struggle, we may sometimes feel overwhelmed and forget the ever-important role of leadership, as we strive to inspire others to become their very best.  We can’t ignore the daily grind, but I’ve recently experienced that no one knows better how to manage this syndrome, and yet somehow inspire others, than the stay-at-home mom.

I recently underwent a surgery which has afforded me the possibility of witnessing more in depth how the CEO of our household operates.  Stay-at-home moms wear numerous hats that we will probably never even begin to fathom. Here are three leadership lessons learned first-hand from the stay-at-home mom that can help any leader inspire others to greatness, despite the whirlwind.

Never miss opportunities to teach

Often when demands of time encroach upon us, we may be tempted to neglect delegation and opt to complete projects on our own.  After all, we as leaders have often precisely calculated organizational schedules, planning beforehand what must happen in order to ensure the daily grind doesn’t come to a screeching halt.  But by yielding to this temptation, we neglect an even more important lesson; that there is no greater teacher than experience, and experience doesn’t come if there’s no delegation. Allow your team to take ownership for projects, providing guidance when needed, and allowing them the freedom to fail.  These struggles will provide the greatest teaching experiences and growth opportunities. Likewise, these struggles will strengthen the trust and admiration your team has for you. Your experiences are taught best through delegation, not regulation.  

Be humble with your management team

I recently read that “true humility is staying teachable, regardless of how much you already know.”  Despite all your experience, the humble leader recognizes that you can’t be the best at everything, and if you think you are, you certainly don’t know anything.  Recognize that your experience may not be what’s needed for the task at hand. It’s quite a humbling and refreshing experience to recognize that although your input may be appreciated, you’re simply not always needed.  Allow your team to flourish at what they do best; and learn a thing or two in the process. As Socrates once said, “True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.”  

Serve others unconditionally

There is perhaps no better method to inspire greatness in others than to serve them unconditionally.  You will find numerous opportunities to serve those you lead, whether that be a random act of kindness, a listening ear, an inspiring thought, or simply a helping hand.  Performing these acts of service, with no expectations of return, helps your team to understand that you care for their well-being. The whirlwind of daily life can sometimes be draining on emotional fortitude, and we are all human.  I recently read the following quote, “A person’s most useful asset is not a head full of knowledge, but a heart full of love, an ear ready to listen, and a hand willing to help others.” The best leaders show they care by actively looking for and pursuing opportunities to serve. 

The “numerous hats” syndrome is not always easy to manage.  The whirlwind is an essential part of daily operations, but never forget that the most important hat you’ll ever wear is that of leader.  I’m grateful for the numerous hats my wonderful wife wears so beautifully, as well as those worn by all stay-at-home moms and working mothers.  You are CEOs, counselors, nurses, event coordinators, teachers, and so much more. I’m grateful for the leadership lessons my wife taught me as she never misses opportunities to teach, ensures humility thrives in our household, and always serves unconditionally.

Joshua Poole