Nurturing vs Mothering


Hmmm….I wonder how many of us distinguish between the difference of nurturing and mothering.  Let’s begin with a review of the definitions.

Nurture meaning: nourish, training, upbringing with proper focus during one’s early years so the one can grow into a secure being.

Mothering meaning: the process of caring for children as their mother or of caring for people in the way that a mother does.

Note:  One includes being smothered and coddled and the other includes guidance and leadership to encourage growth and ownership.  Oh, you didn’t see that? Read them again. Better yet create your own definitions. Then ask yourself do want to mother your followers or nurture them to possibility?

I speak often of serving others, having courageous conversations and being present as a leader.  From my experience of interacting with individuals in a leadership role it is often difficult or confusing for them  to know when the nurturing becomes mothering instead. And why should it? You are a leader to/for them and not a mother.  Most have or have had a mother. That is NOT your role.

When we nurture our teams we empower them to grow and develop into future leaders.  Our replacements and frankly part of a natural succession plan. If the thought of replacement scares you, remember, we cannot grow as leaders if we cannot replace our current role.  By leading empowered people productivity will increase as will the creative solutions to opportunities that may arise in day to day tasks. Their roles in our businesses will adjust accordingly.

So, let’s look at when we cross the line of nurture to mothering.  Mothers are highly regarded in our society. They own their own holiday and are some of the most important people on this planet.

When mothering a team, we can fall into the trap of doing the tasks for them, hovering over them, (sometimes being perceived as a helicopter mom) without providing the space needed for people to get their projects completed knowing that you trust they will. 

To empower you must trust, let go and trust and allow them to make mistakes.  

So may I ask….are you mothering those you lead?  Or are you nurturing? Regardless of your title, please always make sure you are providing authentic leadership focused on those following you.


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