The Most Important Leadership Lessons You Can Learn Only From Mom

Ask others to name the most influential people in their life, and there’s a good chance that their mother will be near the top of the list.

Our moms have been present in our lives from the very beginning–and, if you stop to think about it, just about every lesson we learn in life originated in one way or another with her.

Her words taught us to be better leaders. She shaped our lives profoundly–and still does. In honor of her on Mother’s Day and every day, let’s revisit some of Mom’s enduring leadership concepts.

1. Go to your room and think about what you did.

It may feel like the punishment you got as a child, but giving yourself a time out–time to reflect, understand, and clarify–is one of the best things you can do to improve your leadership.

2. Who do you think you’re talking to?

How you speak and what you say is important. As a leader, you are looked to as a role model. People expect you to speak to them–and, more important, listen to them–with respect.

3. Play nice.

It’s one of life’s most basic lessons: Get along with others and treat them as you want to be treated. It continues to distinguish the best and most memorable leaders.

4. Mind your manners.

As a leader, you are charged with creating a culture within your organization, just as mothers tend to do in families. It’s your job to create clear boundaries of what is tolerable and what is not.

5. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

You will always do well to remember how much negative words can hurt people, and to remind yourself that not everything you think needs to be spoken. Using words carefully, especially around others, is a critically important skill.

6. Please don’t fight.

Especially if you grew up with siblings, part of everyday life involved learning how to deal with conflict and those you don’t get along with. Managing emotions and working together toward productive solutions are hallmarks of great leadership.

7. You have an answer for everything, don’t you?

It may still be such a temptation to be argumentative, but you’ll be a much more effective leader if you can take in Mom’s lesson to listen before you speak. You don’t always have to come back with an answer. Often the smartest reply is just to keep listening.

8. Don’t hang around with a bad crowd.

You may not have liked hearing it at the time, but again, she was right: Whom you spend time with is a reflection of who you are. Every relationship influences you and says something about you. Spend time with those who want the best for you and reach out to those who need help.

9. Finish your homework before you play.

Good leadership is impossible without the ability to set priorities and be well prepared. Mom was our first coach when it came to time management.

10. You can’t judge a book by its cover.

Whole seminars today are centered on this basic principle of diversity and inclusion. As leaders, we’re all called to teach others not to judge quickly and to be open to the gifts and perspectives of those who are different from us in some way.

11. Respect your elders.

When life gets tough we need guidance, mentorship, and support–and we look to those we respect, often those who have acquired years of experience and wisdom.

12. I will always be proud of you.

If you’re like most of us, your mother was a source of unconditional pride. And that pride reassured you that you could do better and provided support when we failed. Now, as an adult, showing others that you are proud of them and believe in them is the best possible way to pay that gift forward.

The wisdom of our mothers is timeless and profound. She really did–and still does–know best.

N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R


What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

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