Karin’s Leadership Articles

Moms Growing Leaders: A Mother’s Day Tribute

by | May 10, 2013 | By Karin Hurt, Communication, Developing Leadership In Children |

If you ask my mom if she’s a leader, she’ll say “no.” And then, everyone who knows her will just shake their heads and laugh. People follow leaders toward a vision. Leaders serve. Leaders grow leaders. My mom’s a leader. She’s grown a nice crop.

Moms Growing Leaders

Some moms hold formal leadership roles. Others do not. Either way, don’t underestimate the impact. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been asking successful leaders what their moms taught them about leadership. Some great insights shared below.

In the spirit of Mother’s Day, take a minute to reflect. What did your mom teach you about leadership? Share in the comments more importantly, if you still can, tell your mom. Don’t assume she understands the impact.

What Moms Taught Us

“My mother taught me about creativity and passion for what you do. My grandmother taught me perseverance and hard work while always finding the joy (and a smile) in the moment. My great aunt taught me to respect the wisdom and the work of those who came before who put you in the position you are. My great great grandmother taught me that anything is possible when you put your mind to it, no matter what the circumstances. A long way to say – I have had great teachers.”
~Kahina Van Dyke, Global Women’s Executive Leadership Council

Your Moms Themes

Lead with Love

  • “Mom my always gave us kids a lot of hugs and kisses and told us all the time how much she loved us”
  • “Care”


  • “Integrity and ownership!!! Good, Bad, or Indifferent, you speak the truth and own your situation.”
  • “Always do what is right even if it seems to be the hardest thing at the time.”


  • “She mentored her children to reach and achieve.”
  • “Never lose hope.”
  • “There’s always a way.”
  • “Sometimes great things happen, sometimes bad things happen in either case, you must persevere & not spend too much time congratulating yourself or fretting.”

Facing Your Fears

  • “My mom taught me, most of all, unbeknownst to her, that being vulnerable is part of who you are. You can be a hard worker, dedicated and passionate, confidant and experienced, but you can still be vulnerable in so many ways. I am learning to be able to embrace that.”
  • “I have optic nerve damage. My mother, Audrey, taught me never to be ashamed of a disability. She taught me self-advocacy. She taught me to never use my vision (or lack thereof) as an excuse. She never treated me as “disabled”. When she died at 44 of pancreatic cancer, she taught me how to fight like hell against the odds and how to accept defeat gracefully.”
  • “Suck it up and be a young lady instead of a whinny baby. That stuck with me all my life and made me strong and determined to make things better”

Practical Advice

  • “Never fight about money. If that’s what it’s about and it’s going to be messy, walk away.”
  • “Delegate responsibility”
  • Practice makes perfect
  • “Give the respect and get the respect from other”
  • “Relax, a good night sleep solves all standing problems”
  • “Focus on the highest priority first.”

Lead Through Action

  • “Actions can be the most powerful leadership tools and that it’s not just about saying the right things – it’s about walking the talk and implementing.”
  • “Mom,Thank you for using all your domestic appliances like broom,sandals, roti makers etc to harp on your points to win over against mine.Thank you Mom! That’s why I am what I am today!”
  • “Be present and engaged.”

Need a Mother’s Day gift? How about a free subscription to Let’s Grow Leaders 😉
Your turn: what did your mom teach you about leadership?

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Steve Borek

    “Turn the page to the next chapter.” Mom

    This advice has served me above all others.

  2. Eric Dingler

    I connected with the person who wrote about having optic nerve damage. I’m legally blind as well, and my mom refused to let others treat me different. And, she absolutely never tolerated me using my low vision as an excuse.

    Another amazing post Karin.

  3. letsgrowleaders

    Steve, I just love that concept. It’s hard, but when you can do it… it’s so liberating.

  4. letsgrowleaders

    Eric, I would never have know you were legally blind. Your mom grew her leaders well. Namaste.

  5. Henna Inam

    Hi Karin –

    My mom was (correction: is) a Tiger Mom. Your blog post comes at a great time as I’ve been thinking about writing a Dear Mom letter on my blog as well reflecting back on the life lessons I’ve learned from my Mom. Perhaps the one that I am most grateful for is “You can do anything or be anything you want”. Thank you for this nice reminder. Namaste!

  6. letsgrowleaders

    Henna, thanks so much. I look forward to reading your Tiger mom post. Namaste.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Julie, so great to see you here. Thanks!

  7. arianaf1981

    Thanks Karin! It’s great to see what other people have learned from their Mother’s…it’s made me realize many things my Mom taught me that I didn’t consciously reflect on before. Love seeing the similarities of our collective experiences being loved and nurtured by our Mom’s, it’s heart warming!!

    • letsgrowleaders

      Ariana, thanks so much for your heartwarming comment. It’s fun. I used this as a virtual teambuilder for my team at work yesterday too. I just posed the question via email, and the stories came flooding in with a reply to all. Amazing stories. We are collecting them as well. Namaste.

  8. Jesse Lyn Stoner (@JesseLynStoner)

    Lovely post, Karin. This is not just a tribute to mothers, you give richer substance and depth to the real meaning of leadership.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Jesse, thanks so much. Happy mothers day.

  9. Mary Lasky

    Kowing your mom, this is a beautiful tribute to her. I hope she sees it.

  10. letsgrowleaders

    Mary, so great to see you here. I will be sure she does.

  11. letsgrowleaders

    I’ve had comments coming in across all kinds of social media on this which is so much fun. I just had to share this comment from the Harvard Business Review LinkedIn group (with permission), it expresses an important element I believe I missed in the original post.

    Ali Anani • @Karin- This is a great tribute to mothers. I shall share one personal lesson. I was about thirteen years old when my elder brother and I noticed that mum didn’t take any meat. We watched that and every time she didn’t. So, we decided to confront her. She admitted doing that for fear she would have taken a piece of meat that one of her kids wished to have it.
    Silent sacrifices make great leaders. Mothers sacrifice without making their sacrifices noted.

    • Ali Anani (@alianani15)

      Karin, I promoted this work and got some good feedback. I have an image of the feedback, if you are interested

  12. Ali Anani (@alianani15)

    Karin- It is so sweet of you to write such a lovely comment on my comment. You see when we do things wholeheartedly they hit the mark. I wrote with great memories about mum. I wrote with sincerity and love. So, the passion touched you.
    Emotional intelligence-leadership association is a lesson mums teach us by not only doing, but by doing it silently.

  13. Ben Evans

    There’s been one person in my life who has given me more leadership advice than a college course ever could. She goes by: Mom, Momma, Mommy, Mother Dear, Madre, but most of you know her by Karin Hurt, story teller, learner, and the mastermind behind Let’s Grow Leaders. From leading my religious journey to aiding me in my role of Vice President of the Senior Class, I couldn’t ask for a better role model in my life.

    Some of you may be wondering what the best thing I learned was from such a wonderful leader is… After growing up in a leadership heavy lifestyle there is one tip I try to follow and I suggest the same for you.

    “Leave a legacy”: even though a project you may be working on, wont be finished when you have to leave, leave on a good note. We sometimes think that just because we won’t be in a place to see an end result, doesn’t mean we have to work hard till the end. I’ve recently formed a team at my school which broadcasts the announcements over the TV instead of on an intercom. My team consists of Freshman- Seniors, with all signs pointing to continuing on next year. Even though I’ll be graduating in a few short weeks, I’ve pushed the team to prepare for next year.

    So today, when you call your mother to wish her a Happy Mothers Day, thank her. Thank her for being the woman she is, and thank her for her leadership. Even if she laughs it off, and says “I’m not a leader” tell her she most certainly is. She led you to be the person you are today.

    So Mom, thank you, and I love you more than anything. You’ve pushed me to be the leader I am today, and as I go off to college, we both know I’ll be taking your lessons, styles, and journeys with me. Happy Mothers Day

    • letsgrowleaders

      Ben, I can’t imagine a nice mother’s day gift. Thank you. I am so proud of you and all that you do. I love you. You are leaving a legacy… and it’s only just begun. I love you. Namaste.

  14. Ali Anani (@alianani15)

    Karin, I promoted this work and got some good feedback. I have an image of the feedback, if you are interested

    • letsgrowleaders

      Ali, Thanks so much. That’s wonderful. Really appreciate the support and sharing.

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