Recently, I’ve been refreshing my memory on Kouzes and Posner‘s The Leadership Challenge. It dawned on me today that the five practices of exemplary leadership (with all due apologies to the authors) could easily be renamed the five practices of exemplary motherhood.

Model the Way 
Leaders establish principles concerning the way people (constituents, peers, colleagues, and customers alike) should be treated and the way goals should be pursued. They create standards of excellence and then set an example for others to follow.

Moms do this, too. They teach their children how to treat others. They teach them how to set goals and go after them. They give the best of themselves and expect the same from the kids. Exemplary mothers model the way for their children.

Inspire a Shared Vision 
Leaders passionately believe that they can make a difference. They envision the future, creating an ideal and unique image of what the organization can become. Through their magnetism and quiet persuasion, leaders enlist others in their dreams. They breathe life into their visions and get people to see exciting possibilities for the future.

Moms know they make a difference in the lives of their children. They can see a bright future and inspire the kids to see it for themselves. Exemplary Moms create excitement for what the future holds for her little ones.

Challenge the Process 
Leaders search for opportunities to change the status quo. They look for innovative ways to improve the organization. In doing so, they experiment and take risks. And because leaders know that risk taking involves mistakes and failures, they accept the inevitable disappointments as learning opportunities.

Moms often chart their own course. Sometimes, they use tried and true methods. Other times, they aren’t afraid to try something new if it will help their children succeed. They consistently work to improve the family organization by encouraging education, healthy living, creativity, adventure, and risk-taking. Exemplary mothers know that disappointments may come from pursuing those activities and taking those risks but there is always a life lesson to be learned.

Enable Others to Act 
Leaders foster collaboration and build spirited teams. They actively involve others. Leaders understand that mutual respect is what sustains extraordinary efforts; they strive to create an atmosphere of trust and human dignity. They strengthen others, making each person feel capable and powerful.

Moms encourage collaboration and try keep the family engaged. Parents and children can count on one another. Siblings are taught to support each other. Moms also create a safe environment for the children to try things on their own. Moms catch them when they fall and gently push them when they hesitate, In all things, the exemplary Mom helps her children feel confident and powerful to take action.

Encourage the Heart 
Accomplishing extraordinary things in organizations is hard work. To keep hope and determination alive, leaders recognize contributions that individuals make. In every winning team, the members need to share in the rewards of their efforts, so leaders celebrate accomplishments. They make people feel like heroes.

Moms know when to praise and when to counsel. They are connected to the hearts of their children. A mother seeks opportunities to praise effort and celebrate achievement. Exemplary Moms make their children feel like heroes.

What do you think? Do you see the similarities? Some time this Mother’s Day, take a moment to thank your exemplary Mom – in person, on the phone, or by thinking a quiet thought in your heart – for being a leader in your life and an example of the five practices of motherhood…er, leadership.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Note: The quoted text above is from The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership. If you haven’t yet, take the time to read and explore the rest of the website It’s a terrific leadership resource.