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5 leadership lessons I learned from mum


Mothers throughout history have inspired and influenced business leaders through their support and encouragement.

Arianna Huffington claims her mother is the single most influential person in her life, Bill Gates credits his mother for his substantial philanthropic efforts and Sheryl Sandberg says her mother raised her to believe she could achieve anything, regardless of gender.

While, our mothers may not be CEOs or run Fortune 500 companies, they impart valuable wisdom, which we take into various contexts in adulthood including work. My own mother ran a household of seven children, and gave us many useful tools for navigating life, which I used later in life as a CEO. 

So, in honor of Mother’s Day, here are five life lessons my mother taught me, which helped me become a better business leader.

Business lessons learned at home 

Kindness is good business
Mum taught us that a little kindness goes a long way. Whether you’re dealing with clients, partners, or employees, genuine warmth creates goodwill and can foster innovation and cooperation. In a business context, happy clients become repeat customers, and a team that feels respected are more satisfied professionally. Kindness in a professional context is an underrated superpower, especially for business leaders. Your employees will inevitably go through many challenges throughout their career, both in their personal and work lives. Having some compassion and understanding can help you navigate through these issues to better support your employees.

Resilience: There’s power in bouncing back
When you’re raising a family of seven children, like my mum did, problems pop up hourly. Mum showed us the power of resilience under pressure, and of finding solutions in challenging situations. In business, setbacks are inevitable and as a CEO, I’ve found managing issues is a large part of the role, so resilience is important. However, resilience shouldn’t be framed in a toxic manner, whereby your mental well-being comes second. Resilience means understanding your own limits, setting healthy boundaries and accepting that failure is an inevitable part of life. But it can also mean addressing uncertainty with flexibility and knowing no matter what, you’ll bounce back.

A little patience pays off
As one of seven kids, I quickly learned that all good things take time. In business, rushing can lead to mistakes. Likewise, expecting to climb the mountain in one go, leads to burnout and underpreparedness. In client dealings, Mum taught me some deals require nurturing, and it’s okay to play the long game. For new graduates or those starting a new job, take your time to hone your craft, instead of pushing prematurely for promotions and bigger projects. There are some things in life that simply take time, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Never stop learning
My mum taught us the importance of reading, which is a habit I’ve kept throughout my life, but the lesson behind it was to never stop learning. This wisdom is very transferable to any career, where maintaining an open mindset and thirst for knowledge is vital. My career has seen many changes, from founding a business, to sales, to the CEO of a company, and continual growth and learning has been key along that journey. Understanding that you can always improve and grow, both professionally and personally, is the cornerstone of a successful fulfilled life.

Fun: The secret ingredient
Even amidst chaos, golden threads of positivity can be found, and that’s something our mum taught us. If you aren’t having some fun along the way, both in work and life, what’s the point? Birthday lunches, team outings and end of year parties are a major part of building a great work culture. The best workplaces aren’t solely focused on output and productivity, but understand that a well rounded work culture creates a better environment for all. Bringing elements of fun into the workplace can also prevent burnout and high employee turnover. But ultimately, a joyful work environment is infectious and motivates you and your team.

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