Female Leaders: Are You Too “Mothering”?

One of my clients shared a feedback that she got recently: “You are too mothering.” She was annoyed and insulted by it. Of course it was said to her by a male colleague, who is single and has no kid. She felt completely unseen and unappreciated for it.

(By the way, Men, by chance you are reading this: If you ever say this to a woman, especially one who is a mother, you must be prepared for a fight, and know that this comment will sting for a long time, no matter how right you might be.)

What are the qualities of “mothering”?

As a mother, myself, I would define it as:

- Caring, loving, dedicating of ourselves

- Being responsible 24/7: doing chores, all the grunt work, what ever it takes to be there for…

- Protecting, providing, serving

So when does a leader (or a mother) become too mothering?

- She starts to believe that the org can’t do without her, so she takes on too much. She becomes the martyr.

- She can’t stand the thought that her people might FAIL, so she tries to overly protect. She becomes the saint.

- She exhausts herself. She is an emotional wreck. She forgets her own needs, wants, and boundaries. She becomes a victim.

The combination of Victim, Martyr and Saint is like the iceberg to the Titanic, for female executives.

So LADIES!!! You get to keep your “mothering” qualities. That is how women lead. That is what makes us great. Because we are willing to care deeply, that we would do anything to serve. And we are creative, nimble, and a great juggler of many balls. We are a success story.

BUT you don’t get to carry a cross, or nail yourself on the cross, or even ascend into heaven while you are leading your organization.

We need you healthy, whole, trusting, confident, and having clear boundaries and judgments. So that you can be the great leader that we know you are.

I salute you.

Assumptions About People and Leadership

Found this cool website Leadershiptype.com Everything you want to read about leadership, in short poignant chunks.

For example, in the article Assumptions about People and Leadership
It’s so simple…
(note: the words in ( ) are my words and interpretations. Please click on the link above for the original article
1. People Want to Succeed (even your worst co-worker or employee, wants to succeed. Really! Find the thing that they want to succeed in, and motivate from there.)
2. People Want to Know How They are Doing: (We all want to know how we are doing. BUT we rather hear the GOOD stuff first, then lay in the bad stuff gently, clearly, firmly, and with love and commitment so that we can hear you)
3. A Leaders Impact on Morale and Performance is Greater Than They Realize: (We impact the org. from our words, assumptions, secret: thoughts, resentments & unhappiness, actions, EVERYTHING!!! We are much more transparent than we know.)
4. The People Closest to the Action are Best Able to Identify Opportunities and Solutions (We know that!!! But for some reasons it still is a lot easier to make decisions behind closed doors, to assume that we know best, to save time by just rolling it down to them, to, to, to…..and then we wonder why no one appreciates us, or follows the decision. We end up shooting ourselves in the foot.)

Again, these points are so simple, yet so hard to do when the moment is charged, and everyone is stressed for time, pressure, and demands.