Moms and Bosses


Moms and bosses there is a distinct parallel between being a parent and being a boss, let me share with you how that is.

I can say I have been very lucky to have a number of mothers in my life. My first mother provided me first with life and a loving home; and then lots of siblings. She died suddenly from equine encephalitis when I was 8 years old. My Dad married again about two years later – he was very lucky to find a women who wanted to take on five children plus her one to make a family of six. She brought the spirit of adventure and total unconditional love for each and every one of us – no matter how hateful we were as teenagers! And then my surrogate mother, my dear Aunt Charlotte who took me under her wing along with her own six children. She was my champion and inspiration for graciousness during those first difficult years after my mother died and while I was getting used to a new mother! And then I was also lucky enough to marry a man that had two mothers both still alive and well today;  one his birth mother and the other his step-mother though he never calls her that – and they are also lovely women with good hearts and a very strong desire to stay connected with their adult children.

These women all had a profound impact on my development, my sense of self-worth and my values. And I have a great appreciation for the many many sacrifices that a mother makes to be sure that their children have not only food and shelter and safety, but also are allowed to develop their own dreams and unique talents. The other thing I recognize about my mothers is that they have only wanted me to be happy – whatever form that took. And they never criticized and demeaned me – I did that all by myself and of course blamed everything on them!

And through my mothers – I have also seen how different each of these relationships has been – not better – just different. Each relationship that we engage in happens between two unique human beings and so the relationship you create between you and the other person is bound to be unique – and not open to comparison to any other relationships. What can be compared is how you show up in each of your relationships and the choices you make many times each day!

  • Do you resist the other person or do you do what it takes to make things go right?
  • Do you honor what you know is the right things to do or do you take some other action and then justify your actions by blaming the other?
  • Are you judgmental or do you embrace the other person warts and all?
  • Do you focus on yourself or consider what the other person needs?
  • Do you boost them up and celebrate their successes or do you tear them down?

I have also had a lot of great bosses in my life and I can see a distinct parallel between being a parent and being a boss. All of those questions about how you show up in a relationship apply as much to those relationships as to the mother-child connection. And just as we do with our parents when we are young, we sometimes take for granted the sacrifices your boss makes to make sure that you have what you need to do your job or have the training, mentoring and coaching you need to develop your talents as fully as you can. And as bosses we take for granted the effort and stretching that those who report to us make so that we are supported and the organization is successful.

The greatest pleasure I get today is the occasional call from someone to whom I was a boss telling me that I made a big difference in their personal and professional development.

In all cases, as parent or child, or boss or direct report, please do the following each and every day:

  • celebrate someone’s unique contributions;
  • focus on helping them to develop their talents; and
  • honor their uniqueness!

All of these are most important for building that foundation of trust. And when that trust is there, and you know that your mother or boss is a champion for your success and happiness, they can still give you that sometimes hard-to-hear feedback about how what you are doing is undermining those dreams or getting in the way of accomplishing your goals. And you know that it comes not from a critical blaming place but from a caring and concerned heart!

It is just as important to interact with a person with both your head and your heart whether you are related to them up, down or sideways in the organization or in the family. Every relationship is important – for you as much as for them. You get to be your best self when you are recognizing the best in others!

Whose talents and unique gifts are you going to recognize his week with a nice card or small thoughtful gesture of appreciation? Who can you support in developing into their best self?

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