What I Learned from My Mother

I lost my exceptional mother, at 87 years old, on October 9th. My grieving will continue for a long time. But thankfully, it is accompanied by the positive inspiration of her legacy, some of which relates to my work as a leadership coach.

In this season of gratitude, connection and renewal – which is what Thanksgiving is about—I sought out some simple, humanistic guidance to share. I easily found it, as I recently read the scores of condolence letters from my mother’s enormous, eclectic network. She had too much humility to ever consider herself a leader, so I am only now discovering the full power of her positive influence as I read the letters. So many people felt changed by my mother, internalizing the values that she so enthusiastically and unwaveringly lived out.

Here is my take-away:

If I want to take stock of my leadership influence on others – individually, collectively, in an organization, and for societal benefit – I must ask myself this question:

Are there people who try to have a greater positive impact on the lives of others because of the influence of my values, intentions and actions?

How about you? When we can say yes, then we are well positioned for the many other ways great leaders have impact. If people are internally driven to be better versions of themselves from the inside out, because of what they absorb from us, regardless of our level or role, then we are leading for positive, lasting impact. That quality of leadership builds sustained momentum for the many other capabilities needed in ourselves and our colleagues.

Maya Angelou said “people will remember how you made them feel” [whether you are leading or not].  Here is the corollary I leave you with: People will remember how a leader made them better human beings.