Thursday, May 16, 2013
Last weekend was not only Mother’s Day but also one of my Grandmother’s birthdays so I’ve spent quite a bit of time this past week thinking about both my Grandmothers. I was fortunate enough to have them both in my life well into adulthood and both had a strong influence on me in many ways. They were different women but one thing I noticed they had in common was their ability to command respect from others. The more I thought about how they did this, the more I realized it was through quiet and confident leadership and through demonstrating kindness.
Of course, I am viewing this through the eyes of a granddaughter but I spent a lot of time with my grandparents from when I was a child until they all passed away so saw them in lots of different environments with lots of different people and both of my grandmothers were kind to everyone they met. Not only were they kind but they were welcoming and loving – they just exuded that type of energy whenever they interacted with other people.
They were also quiet – not meek by any means, but quiet and confident. Perhaps it was common of their generation but both my grandfathers were a bit stubborn and outspoken; however, if either of my Grandmothers disagreed with or thought their husbands were out of line, they handled it in one of two ways—a sideways glance across the room (which usually provoked laughter from one of my Grandpas) or, a loving pat on the face accompanied by a whispered comment to their husbands (which also usually provoked laughter from one of my Grandpas). I always admired the way they didn’t raise their voices and, never (ever) did I hear them speak a bad word about anyone else. In fact my Grandma on my Mom’s side is the voice I hear in my head when I am thinking unkind thoughts that could perhaps become words; it’s her voice saying, “Andria, if you don’t have anything kind to say, don’t say anything at all”.
My Grandmothers were not leaders of corporations or large teams but of their families, and not only of their families but also of any group of people they came in contact with; they commanded respect because of who they were and because of the consistency of their behavior. You wouldn’t want to cross either of these women, not because they would react in an overt negative way but because they wouldn’t. They reacted without reacting but by shifting their energy and posture. Unspoken words and sideways glances were enough to let you know where they stood and where you stood. They didn’t have any formal leadership training but were able to lead successfully because they commanded respect through their quiet confident behavior and because of how they treated others.
They had a ton of common sense and an internal spirit that led them to lead confidently by the traits that came naturally to them and by their desire to be a positive role model to those around them. There are many days I think of and wish I could instantly react and respond the way I witnessed my two Grandmothers’ reacting to the stressful situations in their lives There is a lot to be said for a quiet confident leadership style that commands respect and attention from others; a style that is, perhaps, needed more today.