I don't know if it was growing up in New York, being Italian, or the atmosphere around me at the time, but when I was in school I remember always thinking that the loudest person was the strongest and in turn the leader of the group. As I progressed through grammar school into high school and then college my perception of what it meant to be a leader and how a group selects theirs changed.
I started to notice that there were a number of people in my life whom I admired as leaders that never seemed to have a need to scream or shout to garner attention. It was a sort of quiet confidence they exuded. They didn't make a big fuss about the good work they had done or put on a production every time they made a sacrifice.
My mom was... well just that, a mom. She was nurturing and caring and the matriarch of our family in more ways that I can remember. For my entire life, she worked in hospice. I used to love going to work with her and meeting her coworkers and friends (this may shock those of you who know me but I was quite the social butterfly). I vividly remember one time asking her what hospice was. She told me that it was a special place for people who have been diagnosed with 6 months or less to live.
As a young teenager, I found that so odd. Why would you want to work in that environment? Who would want to be surrounded by death all day?
I began asking more questions and probing. Why do you do this job? Why do you like it? Don't you want to do something else? Wouldn't it be cooler to do this or that? Couldn't you make more money doing such-n-such?
She told me that she loved what she did and that she loved making new friends.
"That day I remember thinking - my mom is literally a Saint, like the ones we learned about in school."
Making new friends? I thought she was nuts. "Mom, why would you want to constantly make friends with people you'll never see again?"
What she told me, blew my mind. She said, "Well honey, you see, when someone is placed into Hospice care it is often very difficult, not just for them but for their friends and families too." That much I assumed, it was what came next that really shook me, she went on to explain to me how many people ended up abandoned. Wives, husbands, parents, even kids couldn't bear to see loved ones suffer, so they simply distanced themselves. This certainly wasn't the case for all patients, but it happened much more often than it ever should.
Mom told me she never wanted anyone to feel alone. That everyone deserves a friend. She worked every day to make sure that no one felt alone, and that everyone had at least one friend, her.
I remember thinking what courage that must take. That she could look at these people who were often sick, tired and discarded and help them to feel human again. That she didn't do it to feel better about herself, but rather she did it to help them feel better about themselves. That day I remember thinking to myself "my mom is literally a Saint, like the ones we learned about in school."
What I learned was that my mom was a leader. She was a damn good one too. She worked quietly behind the scenes making friends, rather than loudly in front of the camera appearing to do so. Once I realized that leaders could be incredible without being loud, it opened doors I previously didn't know existed.
We thought of the top 10 things you can do to be the most hated and least effective leader possible. So, we created an "anti how-to guide". Today's post touches on point #5--Raising your voice showcases great leadership, or maybe it doesn't? Interested to learn what the others are? Subscribe to The Growth Blog and you'll receive your free copy of The Pocket Guide: How To Be The Worst Leader Ever.