7 years ago, I entered into what I consider the most difficult leadership role I’ve ever experienced: motherhood. Maybe you’ve never thought of being a mom as being a leader, but it is.

Every day, we lead our children – they are constantly watching us, whether we like it or not. And most often, they follow our example. Whether it’s one child – like in my case – or 10, motherhood is not an easy task.

Mom with kids on beach

I’m a leader. I was told a few weeks ago that I was a “natural born leader”. Although it’s true some people may inherently have leadership potential, I truly believe that leadership potential must be developed and nurtured.

Leadership potential must be developed and nurtured.Click To Tweet

Nonetheless, I have found myself in leadership roles for many years. From leading a ministry to the homeless in my college years to coordinating various missions trips, helping my husband lead youth group, to currently being the President of a local chapter of BNI, I’ve had my fair share of responsibility.

And honestly, I enjoy this leadership thing. I’m naturally an introvert, but over the years, I’ve been able to learn how to speak in public, and to lead others.

Certainly, as a child, I may have been called “bossy”, but does what your younger sister thinks actually count? But as I look back over my life, I see how God has placed me into various positions of leadership, and I’ve learned so much through those experiences.

I have not had every possible leadership experience possible, obviously, and I am sure that there are some out there that are more challenging than parenting. But I do believe that motherhood is the most difficult leadership role I’ve ever faced.

3 reasons motherhood is the most difficult leadership role:

1. There’s no manual.

When you start working at a new job, or even take on a volunteer position, there is almost always a manual. Or at least guidelines left to you by the person who previously held that role. Most of the time that I have had a leadership role, there have been clear cut expectations and recommendations for my tasks.

And I love this! I love having a plan. I love knowing what to expect, or what’s expected of me, and then being given the opportunity to fulfill that. Typical type A leadership qualities, right?

But then, there’s motherhood, and there’s no manual! There’s no clear cut, “If you do this, you will succeed and have a well-adjusted, well-behaved child.” There’s no book on “how to raise your child” – because guess what? My child has never existed before. She’s the only one of her kind out there. Just like your child.

It’s hard to make a plan. It’s hard to know exactly what’s expected or how to make sure you are meeting your child’s particular needs in the right way. Every parent knows that what you have planned and expected for in a child is not always how it turns out.

If your child isn’t you expected, there’s disappointment. Then there’s guilt for feeling disappointed.Oh, and there’s still no manual for how to handle that, either.

2. There’s big expectations and little appreciation.

In traditional leadership roles, there are often big expectations. So that’s nothing new to me. But, usually with those expectations comes appreciation. I say usually because it certainly is not always the case. Many times leaders do inordinate amounts of work behind the scenes that hardly anyone is aware of or appreciates.

However, many times, leaders are recognized and appreciated for their work. Even if not, there’s often a sense of accomplishment by simply having led that particular group, team, or organization.

As a mom, however, the appreciation isn’t always there. I have to say that my husband does a great job of letting me know he appreciates me.

But there are some days that I simply do not feel appreciated as a mom. When my daughter screams “NO!” and goes running into her room (yes, she’s only 7 and yes, I know I’m in for it), and when the piles of laundry are heaping, and when I question every parenting decision I’m making… I can sometimes get the sense that maybe I’m not cut out for this motherhood thing.

I can handle leading a group, or planning, organizing, and executing an event or program. But give me one child, and I’m not sure if I’m up for the task. The expectations are there – but the appreciation doesn’t always follow.

3. The job never ends.

Most leadership roles I have had have, at one point or another, come to an end. Some have definite time periods, and others are more fluid – but they all have or will end at some point. And isn’t that one of the beautiful things about leadership – that you get to develop new people into that leadership role so that they can have the opportunity to use their gifts?

Motherhood is different: once you become a mom, that leadership role never ends. Even as an adult, I still look to my mom for support & guidance.

Motherhood is a leadership role that never ends.Click To Tweet

This never-ending responsibility is another reason I feel that motherhood is the most challenging leadership role I’ve ever had. In other roles, I know that if I absolutely had to get out of it, I could. I could tap out, and pass the role onto someone else. But as a mom, that’s really not an option. We don’t get to tap out, because being a mom is a permanent job.

But here’s the thing: even though motherhood is the most difficult leadership role I’ve ever had, it’s also the most rewarding. My daughter sees me at my worst, and she still loves me. She hasn’t fired me or suggested that I move on to a different role (although I recognize that day might come…).

Esther Littlefield and daughter

So if you are like me, and you’ve sometimes felt like it is much easier to run a business or lead an organization or coordinate a volunteer effort than be a mom, you’re not alone!

If you’d like to join a group of other high-performing women who are growing in their leadership journey, just enter your info below!

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Oh, and one last thing – if you need some encouragement, I highly recommend checking out this “Marked” podcast from Lifeway Women with Angie Smith. I know you will love it!

Thanks for sticking with me, friends. If this post encouraged you in any way, it would be amazing if you could share by using the buttons below.