Sitting down into my coveted aisle seat after a very full week, I looked forward to the 4 1/2 hour flight to the West coast to catch up on my reading, relaxing and resting... until a family of 7 descended into the seats behind and next to me. As my seat back began to rumble back and forth, my heart sank. One of the kids had special needs and talked very loudly just as the grandfather in front of him launched into his political views to everyone who glanced his way. The dad chose the corner seat and quickly plugged in his earphones. Ugh... so much for MY sense or peace!
Then I began to observe the way the mom began treating the other family members. To her elderly father, she said, "Dad, you might want to rest up for the flight ahead!" as she winked to the petrified couple next to him and me. To her son with the special needs, she listened, taught, questioned and modeled a quiet voice, never telling him to hush. Between showering kisses on her kids, she kept the whole lot happy and challenged with books, games and chocolate. And the coolest part? I noticed that she got herself settled first, ate her meal and read her book too - this wasn't a harried mom who put everyone else first at her own expense!
It made me curious - what if business leaders treated their employees like this mom by paying close attention to everyone's unique needs and treating each person with compassion and respect? What if having a deep sense of love - and showing it- was really the main thing? Of course, she wasn't running a company but she was keeping a diverse team cohesive and all moving in the same direction.
So the next time I'm coaching a CEO who complains about his or her team of misfits, I'm going to challenge them to think like a mom and take on the challenge with a potent mix of self-care, listening and love. Oh, and a stash of chocolate to hand out now and then doesn't hurt!
How about you? Next time you need to lead your team, source the best mom you can imagine and see what happens - you might just be surprised!