One of the things I learned in recovery was everyone has a role to play in our lives. We can have many friends, change therapists and sponsors, and even add extended family members through marriages and births. You cannot swap moms easily. The role of mother is unique and special. (So is the role of dad, but it was Mother’s Day yesterday, so….)

I call my mother “mommy”. We have not always seen eye-to-eye. We have not always even gotten along. She has always loved me unconditionally. Even when I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) see it. She, like so many mothers, sacrificed much to create the environment and opportunity for me to grow and thrive.

My mom was a “stay at home” mom. She didn’t choose to stay at home because she was unable or unwilling to have a career. She is smarter than most of the men I have worked with throughout my life. She could have done anything she set her heart and mind to. She chose to set her heart and mind and effort on investing in my and my siblings’ lives. She, like so many women, doesn’t get nearly enough credit for that effort and accomplishment.

Many of my friends had moms who worked outside the home, and they were also incredibly smart and impressive women, often pulling ‘double duty’ in the evenings. The role of a mom is not changed by their work location; it is intrinsically part of who they are.

All leaders could take a lesson out of the “mom” handbook (there isn’t really a book so don’t bother trying to find it). Here are some things moms teach us about true leadership:

  • True leaders are not threatened by other people’s strengths; they celebrate and encourage them. Moms routinely push their sons and daughters forward into opportunities, often spending much of their own time in the wings. Leaders should see the capacity in their people and nurture it.
  • True leaders accept that the people we lead will fail, and we will often be included in the consequences. Moms are often identified by their children. When things go wrong, and they always do, it impacts the mom as much, if not more, than the kid. Leaders must be willing to stand with their people in the difficult times as much as in the good.
  • True leaders are willing to invest personally in the people they lead. Moms are willing to invest in their kid’s development, even at personal cost. I can’t imagine the sacrifices my mother made and the things she gave up to provide opportunities for my growth and development. Leaders have a moral obligation to invest in their people, even in ways that personally cost.

Yesterday was a day to honor and appreciate the mother in your life. It was also an opportunity to recognize the impact that someone can have on you when they believe in your intrinsic value, push you to excel, stand by you even when you fall, and invest personally in your growth. Leaders are not moms, but they should take a page from the mom book and nurture the people in their community. A place where you are cared for, like my mommy cares for me, is a place where you can flourish and grow, and that is also the Bison Way.