My first leadership lesson, courtesy of my mother


As I started this blog, I got to thinking: what do I really know about leadership? What does anyone really know about leadership?

It’s one of those concepts that is constantly changing. If anything, leadership is not static. It’s always evolving.

My mother was raised in a culture where being an elder was the definition of being a leader. The older you were, the more respect you received. It did not matter if my mother never agreed with my grandma; she did anything and everything grandma told her to do.

Yes, based on that definition, my mother should think I’m the most disrespectful person ever. She doesn’t though. My mother has come to understand that leadership is different depending on where you go because it differs from culture to culture, from generation to generation, and from organization to organization.

So, even though in my mother’s culture a formal leader was defined as someone who was older, the best leaders still had common characteristics. Think of it as a manager versus a real leader in an organization. There are plenty of managers who don’t know how to lead their people.

As we continue to explore the difference between a manager and a leader, keep in mind that the definition of an exceptional leader is going to change throughout time or across cultures, and the best of the best are the ones who know how to adapt.

So, there’s our first lesson: good leaders know how to adapt to change.


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