5 Bits of Business Wisdom from Mom

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Happy Mothers Day! The Beatles wrote a song called Your Mother Should Know (it’s on the Magical Mystery Tour album), so I thought it would be appropriate on this day to talk about five things that mothers do know that business leaders should know as well—but sometimes don’t. Because, after all, mother knows best!

  1. Look both ways before you cross the street. Don’t rush recklessly into the “traffic” of your business: decisions, new ventures, partnerships, etc. Make sure you know what you’re getting into. Look at the situation from several angles. Do your due diligence. Yes, what’s across the street may be exciting and enticing, but taking the time to get the facts could save your life!
  2. If your friends jumped off a cliff would you do it too? Use your own brain. You don’t have to jump on every new trend that hits your industry. Just because the competition is doing it doesn’t mean you have to. Yes, that new trend might be a great idea for you, but don’t do it solely because everybody else is. Do it because you’ve thought it through and analyzed it as it pertains to your situation. After all, the Beatles wrote another pertinent song: Think For Yourself.
  3. You have to eat your broccoli before you can have dessert. Think of the broccoli as the stuff that’s good for the company, and the dessert as the stuff that’s fun and popular. Your job, as a leader, is to do what’s best for the company. Sometimes what’s best for the company may be unpopular with certain people: employees, shareholders, vendors. While I’m not suggesting you go out and intentionally alienate these very important constituencies, I’m also not suggesting you coddle them at the expense of the company just so they’ll like you. Do the hard things, make the tough decisions, tackle the unpleasant stuff first. Then you can enjoy your dessert.
  4. Because I said so, that’s why! Yes, it’s good to get input from the members of your team. It’s good to listen to multiple points of view and multiple ideas. But at a certain point, somebody’s got to make a decision, and, as leader, that somebody is you. Sure, we all want to be friends with the members of our team, but remember: you’re being paid to be their leader, not their friend. That doesn’t mean you can’t be both, but you have to be a leader first, and that means that, ultimately, the decisions are yours.
  5. Money doesn’t grow on trees, you know! All you have to do is take a look at the current banking situation to see the importance of fiscal responsibility. As a leader, you’re probably responsible for a budget. Maybe it’s the budget for your department, maybe it’s the budget for your entire company. And it’s easy to get carried away when the money’s not coming directly out of your own wallet. But a bit of frugality isn’t going to kill you. Do you really need that flashy, new, expensive printer, office renovation, or Gulfstream jet? Sure, they’d be nice—and you can always find a way to justify them if you look hard enough—but are they really necessary? If they are, then by all means, make the investment. But if you were to make your budget decisions as if the money were coming directly out of your own wallet, you’ll probably find that you’ll become a much more fiscally responsible leader.

So, if it’s possible, do something nice for your mom this Mothers Day. After all, you probably wouldn’t be the leader you are today if it wasn’t for her.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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