What springs to mind when you think of the word ‘leadership’? If its an image of a middle aged man in a suit running a huge corporation, then you’re only scratching the surface of leadership. In this post I’m going to explain how leadership goes way beyond executive leadership development. In fact leadership is something you will ‘do’ every day as a mum and probably as a mumpreneur, too.
First of all, the traditional picture of a leader sitting at the top of a hierarchy is no longer true. An effective leader is one who takes the opposite approach and looks at how she can best serve the people she leads, rather than how the people can serve her. Although this concept became more common from the 1970s onwards, the idea of a leadership being about service rather than being served goes way back to ancient times and philosophies.
Good leadership does involve making decisions and taking responsibility but it’s for the good of the people and the organisation, rather than for the status and personal gains of the leader. Good leaders are followed because people trust and respect them, rather than the skills they possess. Leadership is about behaviour first, skills second.
Many areas in your life and work will be a question of learning skills and applying them in a consistent way, but leadership is very different because it depends on your personal and emotional strengths, plus how you behave in any given situation. Often there are no right answers, and finding the best path depends on the experience and confidence of the leader.
If this is starting to sound familiar, then it’s because as a parent, you’re already a leader!
So what’s the difference between leadership and management?
According to BusinessBalls.com:
“This is a simple way to see how leadership is different to management:
- Management is mostly about processes.
- Leadership is mostly about behaviour.”
Management is about planning, organisation, measurable outcomes and communicating these to a team. Leadership includes these to some extent, but its focus is on the less tangible things like trust, inspiring others and decision-making.
If you’re a solo business owner you’re probably only managing yourself and your own workflow. But you’ll be a leader of your audience and your clients because they will want to trust you, to feel that you are able to make good decisions and to expect you to have integrity, commitment and courage.
And your children will look to you for these leadership qualities, too.
If that sounds a little daunting – and it shouldn’t because you’ve already had more practice than you realise! – how can you brush up your leadership skills? Well, that’s a big question for a short article, but here are some tips:
1. Be a good listener and communicator
Often the people around you will tell you what they want from you if you pay attention to them. That sounds easy, but when you’re busy it’s easy to not give people the attention they need to get the message across to you fully. Also pay attention to how you communicate back to them and how you might improve that.
2. It’s OK to make mistakes
If you’re not making any mistakes then you’re not trying enough new things! Just make sure you handle the mistake gracefully.
3. Have a great team around you
The best leaders aren’t intimidated being surrounded by smart, capable people. In fact, it pays to have some smarter than you! As we’ve seen above, leadership isn’t about technical or even management ability.
Which leadership skills do you already have?