MAY 12, 2014

A Reflection on Moms as Leaders

Dr. Stephanie Brommer

Written By Dr. Stephanie J. Brommer

My tax return says I’m “head of household.” That I am. I am a leader of my household that consists of myself and two teens.  We’ve held family meetings, worked together on housework and extracurricular activities, set goals, and supported each other.

Mothering and managing have similarities, as I found out after I birthed my son and, four years later, my daughter.  In my family, I became a leader – as a role model, a cheerleader, an advocate, and a visionary.

Leaders – whether in politics, business, education, or family – should provide motivation, help others reach their potential and their goals, and collaborate on a shared vision.  They should also be nimble, adjust to change, and communicate clearly and often.  Is it any wonder that studies show that women make good leaders?

As a reflection of situational leadership principles, kids’ developmental stages often demand parental leadership styles of directing behaviors when they are young, followed by coaching through elementary school, supporting choices in junior high, and delegating responsibilities as they move through high school and beyond.

When my daughter was born, roles and expectations needed readjusting, as in a workplace when a new employee with a new position comes on board. At first, my son drew a line (literally, with marker on the carpet) to separate his space from his sister’s space. After discussing how he could benefit from his sister’s presence (new playmate), he jumped on board heartily. There I was, negotiating, facilitating, creating a shared vision of our family.

Then elementary school started, and both my son and my daughter tested into the academically advanced program at school. This meant changing schools, and for my reluctant daughter I needed to stick with the vision, empathize, motivate, and help her reach her potential.  As with an employee who is promoted or laterally changes jobs and responsibilities, we sat down and looked at the pros and cons of this move.  We discussed how she could just give it a try as it would meet her academic needs and, if after a certain period of time, she was terribly unhappy, we would look at her options.  Minutes after going to the playground on the first day at her new school, she came to me saying that she already found a new friend. As a leader, I celebrated her success with a smile and a hug, having helped guide her through the change in schools and motivating her to try new things that helped her to grow.

Volunteering in my children’s schools has been very important to me. Having helped weekly in the classroom, I am the upcoming president of a school booster club and previously headed the school’s bingo night fundraiser where my son created the computerized overhead number grid template and my daughter helped collect and organize the donated prizes. I am modeling a key value for me – giving back to the community, helping others, and engaging in teamwork. This, too, is something leaders do, and I am just one of many moms who donate their time and energy to enhancing their kids’ educational experiences.

In junior high, my daughter played on the school’s volleyball team in fall and then the basketball team in winter.  Enjoying the camaraderie of a team, this spring she and her friend joined the tennis squad, although neither of them had played the sport before. I encouraged her choices and these opportunities to learn teamwork and leadership skills. I attend her games to show support.  In doing so, I am illustrating an important aspect of leadership that is key in both the family and the workplace – supporting and helping others develop their own leadership skills.

In high school, driving, college preparation, and being a team player on the water polo and swim squads have been the foci of my son.  As our joint vision for the future, I encourage his independence, self-sufficiency, and preparation for his future as a productive adult and member of society. In doing so, I have modeled being human and making mistakes, changing direction, and succeeding.  I have also modeled organization, responsibilities, prioritization, and collaboration. I am his cheerleader – he can do anything he puts his mind to – yet I also give him a dose of realism based on my experience.

As a mom, I have managed the household, running errands, getting food on the table, preparing for holidays, planning and enjoying fun activities, getting bills paid, and coordinating sports team and school schedules, appointments, and my work schedule. The bottom line is that I have to see things through, keep a pulse on what’s going on, cope with unexpected events, meet deadlines, and maintain motivation, commitment, and enjoyment – as any good leader would.

And on Sunday, Mother’s Day, we celebrated our successes as a family.

This timeline of my kids’ childhoods shows how moms are leaders – and every mom I know is a role model, motivator, collaborator, and cheerleader.

Dr. Stephanie J. Brommer is a Faculty/Program Coordinator
for Specialized Study in CityU’s Division of Doctoral Studies.


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