28 Feb THE BUSINESS OF MOTHERING
Whether you’ve physically given birth, adopted a child, taken an interest in the life of a child or not, all women have the opportunity to be mothers.
Reminiscent of the days when “mothers” remained in the domestic environment and rarely darkened the doorway of the (paid) workplace, the term “mothering” can sound old-fashioned and sexist as a concept. But is it time to re-claim mothering? Could mothering be described as caring for those less able than ourselves? Not as a means of creating or retaining power for ourselves but as a process of gradually empowering others to be independent?
Having had the privilege of raising three children I am in no doubt that the term mothering describes the activities of any female who takes an active role in the development of a child at any stage of their childhood or young adult life. Some of us may provide nutrition and shelter while others take an interest in a child, especially as they become young adults and explore their education and employment options. One role keeps a child physically alive, the other allows the child to fulfil their potential and they can easily intertwine. Separating these roles, from the umbrella activity of mothering, can lead to a person not being fully developed.
When I first explored methods of business development I was confused by different terminologies and processes. But recently I’ve recognised that many business activities are a form of mothering. A book on OKR Systems (Objectives and Key Results) became far easier for me to understand when I realised that the concept can be broken down to a child’s star chart. The child agrees on a set of objectives and has a daily checklist to ensure that those objectives are met. At the end of the week the star chart is reviewed and successful execution of the activities are rewarded. (My kids loved the bags of 10p coins that came out on a Friday afternoon and were exchanged for every star that had been awarded during the week.)
The concept of the “servant leader” is gaining popularity as this form of leadership is adopted by increasingly successful leaders. Similarly the mentorship of leaders is recognised as an effective method of developing the leaders of tomorrow, as well as giving leaders immense satisfaction and injecting fresh energy to their own habits.
“A leader is best when people barely know she exists, when her work is done, her aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” Lao Tzu
There are many ways to successfully mother but the objective tends to be similar for all: to allow individuals to develop the means of living independently and enjoying life to the full.
To mother within the workplace is not an excuse for women to play mother and pour the tea but to be those strong females who share the responsibility of supporting less-able people. Taking a genuine interest in their welfare and eventually taking a step back as confident adults step forward to lead.
I want to take this opportunity to thank those woman who have “mothered” me – many who have been younger than me. These women have been role models and taken a genuine interest in my own development. I plan to model your care by mothering others in the strongest sense of the word. I’d love to hear from you, what you think of the term “mothering” and if you think that there’s future for “mothering” within business.
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