JUST a Great Case of Everyday Leadership


I woke up on Mothers Day excited about writing about moms as the archetypal “everyday leaders.”  I was going to ask you if these words better described a great mom or a great leader:  they encourage, empower, stimulate collaboration, believe in their people, prepare us for the future, and serve others before themselves.  That’s mom – or great leader.  And then I cringed and scratched my head in disbelief when I opened the Free Press and read the lead sentence of an article about a woman running to be the Oakland County Executive.

“Before she was the mayor of Southfield, before she was on the City Council and before she joined the school board,” the writer began, “Brenda Lawrence was just a parent involved in parent-teacher associations for her children.”  Now, I’m not sure why the reader should set aside the fact that this woman’s been a mayor, city council person, and school board member.  But the thing that hangs me up is before that she was “just a parent.”  JUST a parent?  Huh?  Isn’t this 2008?  Just a parent is an insult to any woman – or man – who’s shepherding the most important resource we’ll ever have.

Besides, being a parent can be hugely relevant experience.  Moms, and increasingly dads, do just what municipalities do:  they make sure everybody’s fed, the bills are paid, the lights are on, the kids are getting educated, and we aren’t forgetting about grandma and grandpa.  The fact is that many — perhaps most — women entered politics in just this way.  They cared about their home, their kids, their block and their kids’ school;  then someone said:  “Hey, why don’t you run?”  Humbly – because people told them they were “just a mom” – they agreed to serve.

One more thing.  Raising children is probably pretty good preparation for dealing with the people who act like “siblings” on school boards, city councils, county commissions or legislatures.  As the writer went on to point out about Ms. Lawrence:  “In the late ’90s and early 2000s, Lawrence sometimes calmed an often tumultuous Southfield City Council, where members broke into screaming matches and one councilman threw a book, nearly hitting a city employee.”

Go Moms!  Go on ahead and lead – in whatever venue you choose.  I’m sure grateful that my mom was “just a parent,” and an everyday leader, who always

Led with her best self!