Each time I start a session of servant leadership training I ask the group about who they think of when they think of servant leadership. Many times5-14-13 Mothers Day_NEW either “my mother”, or generically “mothers” comes up. Around Mother’s Day I always like to highlight why I think Mothers are servant leaders.

First, Mothers provide purpose, vision, and values for their children. They usually are very clear about their expectation in this area and they leave nothing to chance about the positive future that they see and want for their children.

They do a great job of engaging their children, and creating an environment of development. They let them know how important they are to the work of the family, and that their children’s work is particularly meaningful in the achievement of the family’s purpose. They set up boundaries for their children, and then let them spread their wings and be in control of the goal. And they are always cheering them on and providing positive encouragement for their accomplishments. Who sees more potential in what you can become than your mother?

They set clear expectations for their children, and they constantly stretch them out to be the very best that they can be. Mothers realize that they are there to help their children get someplace where they would not normally be able to get on their own.

They clearly choose the behaviors of love (patience, kindness, humility, respectfulness, selflessness, forgiveness, honesty, and commitment) when developing relationships with their children. No matter what their kids do, they will always unconditionally love them!

And lastly, they absolutely provide a positive role model for what servant leadership looks like for their children. They are vulnerable, always wanting to be better, and always knowing that their children are watching them, learning how to live a life of service. They are outstanding listeners, who are certainly empathetic to their children’s needs.

I have also observed that just as on the professional side of leadership, those Mothers (and fathers) who get very intentional about their own development on how to develop a culture of servant leadership within their family seem to be the most effective and provide the most significant impact on their children. None of us are born with these skills; they must be developed!

I know I will always be thankful for the outstanding model of servant leadership my Mom was for me. She always thought about others before herself, and was tireless in her efforts to be the very best for not only her children and my Dad, but also for everyone she came into contact with. She lived to serve! I would not be the person I am today, if it were not for my Mom’s love, guidance and direction throughout my formative years.

What impact on servant leadership did your Mom have on you? What are you doing to become a great servant leader parent?

Mark Deterding

My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

Proverbs 6:20