Recently the Alliance For Greater Works hosted a day long event honoring eight women leaders doing greater good in Texas. Those eight – well, they are no slackers. At the table was T.J. Johnson, Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, and Michele Bobadilla, Senior Associate VP for Outreach Services & Community Engagement, Assistant Provost for Hispanic Student Success at The University of Texas at Arlington, and Roslyn Dawson Thompson, President & CEO of the Dallas Women’s Foundation – just to name a few. For an hour they shared their wisdom. A moderator asked all kinds of questions. But one in particular caught my attention. Do you think women make better leaders than men? Hum… I’m not a fan of that question. I get a bit nervous whenever we elevate one gender above the other regardless if it’s man over woman or woman over man. I need my brothers – desperately. And I think they need me. Blessed alliance. But I digress. Their collective answer? Yes. Why? “Because women bring both their heart and mind to the table.” I couldn’t get past the statement. Really? Men don’t bring their heart to the table? All I could think of was, “What does that say about how we’ve asked men to kill their hearts?” Cause men reflect God’s image. God has a heart so men have hearts. What happened? Why don’t, won’t or can’t men bring their heart to the table? Makes me question how we are raising our boys. But I digress. They continued with the discussion about how investing in women brings positive social change to society. They quoted the World Bank which stated that women are the best investment for an economy. Hilary Clinton said women are our best foreign policy. And yet, as crucial as women are for positive social change only 17% of women hold top leadership positions. Again my mind wondered how that truth impacts us on all kinds of levels? (Social, theological, economical, spiritual, relational, financial) But again I digress. The conversation continued: What in particular makes women better leaders. Women make better leaders because they are: Listeners. Collaborative. Authentic. Serving (even to their own detirment). They find the best in others. They take into account all of the stakeholders. Cheerleader. At this point I could feel myself wanting to shout, “That’s not leadership that’s followship! And right on the heels of that I almost blurted out that’s not leadership – THAT’S MOTHERHOOD!” Isn’t it? Listener. That’s an understatement. My mom tells the story of my talking all the way to another town and back without taking a breath. She’s not kidding. Cheerleader. I remember her picking me up at a high school basketball game and saying, “Jackie, I was watching you while you were with your friends and they are all pretty but there’s something uniquely beautiful about you.” Now I gotta tell ya my friends had beautiful long straight wavy hair and I had “brillo hair.” Need I say more. I just wasn’t all that beautiful inside or out. But when my mom saw me she saw potential – possibility. Isn’t that what mothers do? Serving. My mother fed dad and us five kids three meals a day (and nothing ever came from a box.) Oh and the farm help always joined us for meals too. She did over NINE loads of laundry A DAY. (Working in the fields produced a lot of dirty clothes). Our house was small – 1100 square feet – but it was always clean and tidy. I remember my mom sewing our clothes and knitting us mittens for winter. (Picture to the left is mom sitting on dog food container fixing my son’s pants!) She tirelessly served (s) our family. Sometimes to the point of her own detriment. These eight women leaders shared qualities that think make women better leaders. For me they simply described motherhood. I don’t consider myself a good leader. In fact I don’t like to lead. But those qualities they described – I do them when I mother. Why? Cause a mothers love can’t do anything else. It forces us and shapes us and produces in us things we never thought we were capable of being or doing. We listening to what’s being said and not said. We listen to your facial expressions, your body language, your tone. We listen. We constantly mediate and collaborate between you and your siblings. And dad. And activities. We cheer you on in all you do. We are a student of you. We study how you’re made and how we can help develop what’s in you. We labor over ever decision we make. We worry that our choices might cause you harm or pain. Etc. Etc. Etc. I don’t know if it’s leadership but I know it’s a mothers love.
Mom, I’m grateful for how you mothered.