“It Takes a Leader”
When one thinks of a leader, names like Barrack Obama or Michael Jordan come to mind. Today I want to analyze a different type of leader. For society to function and be successful it needs great leaders, and I am not talking about politicians. Society is comprised of individuals, who are the key component of the whole. Individuals are raised largely by women. There is a saying that “it takes a village” to accomplish a big goal, yet when raising kids, it takes a leader whom makes all the difference in the world; a mom. I am in no way discrediting dads but want to focus on the mom’s role as a leader in a child’s life. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters; Ivanna and Vivianne. They have taught me to be the best version of myself and in return I get to “lead” them through life, ensuring, to the best of my abilities, their happiness and well-being. There are various traits that I personally utilize to educate my girls but have decided to focus on three: Skill approach, behavioral approach and situational approach. I have learned to lead with love, patience and commitment. Why? “The greatest contribution to the universe may not be something you do, but someone you raise”. (Unkonwn).
The Skills approach “takes a leader-centered perspective on leadership” (Northouse, 2016, pg.45). Its emphasis is on skills and abilities that can be learned” (Northouse, 2016, pg.45). I have always considered myself to have a good set of skills, until I had children. I understood that I needed to learn new soft skills in order to be successful; particularly patience and effective communication. My 4-year-old daughter has taught me relationship, or human, skills. I learned the most effective way to communicate with her, is not by telling her what she should do; but by taking the time to explain a situation and the possible outcomes of her decision. For example, recently, I let her choose between apologizing to her dad, or to continue the bad behavior; each with its own consequences. She chose to apologize, and I rewarded her for her good decision making. “Leaders with human skills adapt their own ideas to those of others. Furthermore, they create an atmosphere of trust where employees can feel comfortable and secure” (Northouse, 2016, pg.50). My main goal is for my daughters to trust me; in every sense of the word. I want them to be happy in their home, and to share their ideas or questions, pertaining their feelings and thoughts, with me. According to Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, et al. (2000), problem-solving skills are a leader’s creative ability to solve new and unusual, ill-defined organizational problems” (Northouse, 2016, pg.51); which has become my specialty. I am constantly solving problems at home. Today my daughter was having a tantrum because she wanted a baby of her own, to which I had to analyze the situation, understand where it was coming from and act accordingly. I decided to give her a doll and teach her to care for it; promising to let her hold her baby sister afterwards. Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding et al. (2000) stated that “that leadership outcomes are the direct result of a leader’s competencies in problem-solving skills, social judgment skills, and knowledge, when it came to skill approach” (Northouse, 2016, pg.56).
The behavioral approach focuses exclusively on what leaders do and how they act” (Northouse, 2016, pg.72). I am an emphatic believer that a child learns most through imitation. I still have vivid memories of my mom being a hard-working, giving, and loving mother, to which I try to include in my life, to this day. “Leadership is composed of two general kinds of behaviors: task behaviors and relationship behaviors. Task behaviors facilitate goal accomplishment: They help group members to achieve their objectives” (Northouse, 2016, pg.76). In my case, the objectives and standards I have set for my daughters are kindness, love, values and respect. The world has changed a lot in terms of what is acceptable in society; some for the better, while other for the worst. I try to motivate my girls to be kind and respectful not only in their words, but their actions. “Relationship behaviors help followers feel comfortable with themselves, with each other, and with the situation in which they find themselves” (Northouse, 2016, pg.78). I am proud to say my husband and I have given our daughters a happy environment where they feel secure and valued. Within behavioral approach leadership, the term maternalism refers to a leader who uses both team management style and authority compliance style to lead; make most of the key decisions, and reward loyalty and obedience while punishing noncompliance” (Northouse, 2016, pg.81). This term resonates strongly with our way of leading in our home.
“The premise of situational approach theory is that different situations demand different kinds of leadership” (Northouse, 2016, pg.90). This approach can be seen in practice with mothers of two or more children. No two kids are alike, meaning they both respond differently to educational tools and situations. Ivanna is a sweet girl who loves to discuss right and wrong, feelings, and is very empathic towards others. Vivianne, on the other hand, is an energetic, loud, and is very strong-willed. I have opted to react differently, depending on the child and situation, in order to attain positive results. Directive, giving directions and supporting, being emotionally available, behaviors are part of this approach and can be used to guide an individual in the right direction. I have learned not only to adapt to different personalities and situations, but different reactions based on a repeated successful implementation. It is an ever-changing, beautiful process.
An individual, especially at an early age, is susceptible and needs a great leader to guide them through the journey called life. A mom is a very important figure in a child’s life; especially when it comes to education and leadership. We represent various elements in our children’s life: we nurture, feed, love, educate, and protect our children. It takes a village; or a leader, in this case. I focused in 3 different approaches to leadership, being skill, behavior and situational. The skill approach was reflected through learning and utilizing skills to guide my daughters. The behavioral approach is my most effective tool, since my daughters are very keen in analyzing my actions, which I have seen them replicate and most importantly, understand. Last but not least, the situational approach is an advantageous tool, since I have understood the different personalities of each of my daughters and acted accordingly. A mother’s responsibility in this world is to raise happy, successful children; and the most extraordinary journey and life mission.
Northouse, P. (2016). Leadership: Theory And Practice (7th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.