We can learn leadership lessons every day from people in all vocations, including that of a mother. Russell Gehrlein, in his book Immanuel Labor—God’s Presence in Our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work writes that the Proverbs 31 woman was a role model not just for women, but for all workers. In her book Glory in the Ordinary: Why Your Work in the Home Matters to God, Courtney Reisigg writes that she has learned that God is glorified in the mundane (boring, dull or monotonous) work as much as He is in the magnificent.
I’ve recently been learning leadership lessons from our niece Jana, a mother of triplets who were born at just 28 weeks. When a family member saw the above photo of Jana holding the three boys, she called her Wonder Woman. Indeed. Here are 7 lessons that we can learn from Jana (aka Wonder Woman) as she cares for Max, Lincoln and Zeke:
Preparation – Long before the triplets were born, Jana was preparing by reading books and talking to other mothers of triplets. Leaders need to prepare before taking on a formal leadership position. They should secure mentors, leaders that they trust and respect, read books on leadership, attend learning events and try to get into positions in which they can demonstrate leadership, even if they don’t yet have the title.
Trust God – Jana and her husband Tony trusted God to provide them children, even though the odds were against them as time went on, and God was faithful to them. (Read about their “Baby Journey”). Then, they had to trust God that the babies would be able to get to 28 weeks before birth, and again God was faithful. Christian leaders too have to trust in God – to prepare them for leadership, to secure a leadership position and for daily guidance as they lead their teams.
Efficient and organized – Leaders have much on their plates and have to be efficient and well organized or they will quickly become overwhelmed. As a mother, Jana is extremely organized and efficient. Imagine caring for three newborn babies. I would be overwhelmed with one, so seeing how Jana cares for three continually amazes (and tires) me. At this point in time, the boys need to eat every three hours. To get ready for the feeding, she prepares their bottles and changes their diapers. After feeding them, it’s “playtime”, which is basically trying to keep them awake for another half hour or so. And that’s every three hours.
Building her team – Leaders need to build their teams, As Jim Collins stated in his classic book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t, they need to get the right people on the bus (their team), the wrong people off the bus and the right people in the right seats. As you can imagine, Jana can use all of the help she and Tony can get to help them care for the boys. She needed to build a team of people who could assist them, especially during the daytime when Tony is at work. And of course, as a mother, she has to build her team with people she can trust. She has done an excellent job building a good team of family and friends that she can depend on.
Training her team – Training your team is a key aspect of leadership. Do you really think that the customer service at Chick Fil-A would be so consistently excellent if the team members had not received good training? Jana has had to train her team members – some of whom had never changed a diaper (Ahem…my wife and I) – on how to prepare a bottle, how and when to feed the boys, “play time”, how to wash bottles, swaddling, etc. In addition, she has to provide updated instruction to her team members as things change (feeding schedule changes, medication, etc.).
Planning – As a leader, I would plan for the following day late each afternoon. I would check my calendar and see what meetings were going to be held that I needed to prepare for, and what assignments were going to be due that day. Planning is critical to Jana’s leadership as well. She needs to know who is coming to assist her that day and at what time they are coming. She also considers if there is anything out of the ordinary that will take place that day, such as a doctor appointment, or if it is a day that she (a nurse) will be working.
Patience – A servant leader will demonstrate patience when things aren’t going according to plan. They will find out what the problem is, rather than “flying off the handle”. I’ve seen Jana show an incredible amount of patience when one of the boys doesn’t want to sleep, finish his bottle, or is just being fussy. And demonstrating patience is even harder when you get as little sleep as Jana does. Along with patience, she loves to have fun with the boys and make them smile, which is a great trait in a leader.
These are 7 leadership lessons I’m learning from Jana. I’m sure that there will be more in the future. What leadership lessons have you learned from mothers?