It was the moment that my sister and I were exchanging stories of insane schedules and extreme exhaustion that it occurred to me, most mom’s leadership styles function as middle management and it’s time for a shift toward executive leadership.
I’m not talking about careers. I’m talking about the way we manage our homes, motivate our children, and engage with our partners.
“I keep repeating myself.”
“I’d rather just do it myself because my kids don’t do it correctly”
”I feel like I’m the only one that cares.”
I’ve just resolved myself to being tired and drinking coffee to maintain”.
In so few words, these are the common themes I hear in my conversations, read on blogs, and watch in shows with moms in them… but why?
I’ve read a lot of books in my coaching and in my entrepreneurial days about leadership styles and I’ve realized that many moms are caught in the day-to-day, unpopular middle management grind. The space where we’re living someone else’s dream, monitoring outcomes, maintaining schedules, ensuring the health and wellness of all members, and facilitating the changes necessary for the individual growth of each member… this translates into cooking, laundry, comforting and confidence boosting, chauffeuring, doctor visits, mediation, and so much more. But most importantly it translates into exhaustion, for moms. It manifests as burnout for a job that we can’t even quit. (And really don’t want to)
Moms need to shift to the executive role. Not the tyrannical executive that goes golfing half the time and yells at their employees. Not the executive that uninspiringly and irresponsibly drags their company into the ground. But a shift toward executive leadership that delegates tasks. A shift toward leadership that lifts up creative and innovative solutions. A shift toward executive leadership that empowers their “workers” to be their brightest and best selves. As our children get older, more tasks should be assigned and checked on, rather than completed by us.
If you’re thinking of shifting from middle management momming to more executive leadership… think about this:
Where are opportunities that I can step back and allow my children to be empowered and independent?
Here are a few suggestions I have that are easy starters with suggested grade levels:
A bit of advice… There are no “boy tasks” or “girl tasks”… kids of all genders need to learn how to work with others and clean up after themselves. Kids of all ages can be given tasks that teach them responsibility. You have to teach them. They will mess up at first. They may mess up on purpose. Your role is to encourage them to keep at it because when you do it for them, they’re not learning and you’re still tired.
Life is about teamwork and collaboration. We forget that we’re not here doing thing on our own. We (should) work in teams in our romantic relationships, at work, in civil society, and even at church. Families are the first foray into teamwork. In our family, we view teamwork as an opportunity to learn how to connect, collaborate, and compromise. We learn about personal responsibility and how our actions impact the larger collective. If we think about family membership where teamwork - either in an athletic sense or business sense- is the cornerstone of our survival as a group, we begin to shift how we view the roles of family members. We hold each other accountable because we all agree that each person plays a part and each person should pull their weight. Our partners and our children are more apt to help with chores and household responsibilities because they see it as their contribution to the team’s success.
For moms, sadly, it starts with us. A lot of the family’s daily working and survival falls on us anyway. If we are going to revolutionize how we see motherhood, where moms are less exhausted and overwhelmed, we moms need to take control... because WE have it. Will it be a struggle at first? YES. Will we see change rapidly? NO. Will we get frustrated? YES. Do we see ourselves being the “bad guy” sometimes? YES. Is it worth it to allow our kids space to learn and fail? ABSOLUTELY.
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I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working to make life more equitable for all people. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.