As I said last week, motherhood is the ultimate training ground for leadership. With my emphasis on servant leadership as I've worked on my master's degree, I have studied over and over that servant leadership is defined as "the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first," with the best test of servant-leadership being, "Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants" (Greenleaf, 2002, p. 27)?
In the business world, many companies and individuals practice servant leadership as a profitable strategy – companies like Southwest, Starbucks, Men's Warehouse, Franklin-Covey, and people like Simon Sinek, Nelson Mandela, and the ultimate example of servant leadership - Jesus of Nazareth.
Servant leadership has been shown "to create healthy organizations that nurture individual growth, strengthen organizational performance, and, in the end, produce a positive impact on society" (Northouse, 2019, p 238). Isn't that what we want as mothers? To create a healthy organization (our family) that nurtures individual growth (each of our children, ourselves, and all other family members), strengthen organizational performance (how our family works, plays, and interacts in daily life), and, in the end, produces a positive impact on society (our children growing up to be productive members of society, our family adding to the betterment rather than the detriment of society).
Servant-leadership has been studied for years, and the observable benefits of servant leadership are numerous, including (for the context of motherhood, replace the word "team" or "community" with family and the word "follower" with child):
Self actualization for the follower
Greater team effectiveness
Positive impact on society
Self healing for both leader and follower
Empowering and creating value for the community
Far superior financial results
Develops humility and empathy
Better listening and communication
Shared power and control
Creates a positive environment of accountability
(Northouse, 2015, pp. 229,238-240 & Sipe & Frick, 2009, pp. 5-6)
Wouldn't you love those results for your family? In the future, I'll be talking a lot more about how to create these benefits; for now, just know that they are within your reach because you – mom – are a servant leader.
Northouse, P. G. (2019). Leadership: theory and practice. SAGE Publications
Sipe, J. W., & Frick, D. M. (2009). Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership. Paulist Press.