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What’s Mom got to do with success?

by on
in HR Management,Human Resources

Laurie Siegel, the HR whiz brought in to mop up the mess at Tyco International, is one of those super-achieving women born of a dominant mother. What’s a dominant mother?

Researcher Marian Winterbottom says dominant mothers let their kids fail, pressing them to try again and again until they succeed. President Lyndon Johnson had a typical dominant mother. First lady Abigail Adams was one.

If you believe Winterbottom, a dominant (not domineering) mother is chiefly responsible for rearing high-achievers. Also having a dominant father doesn’t hurt, either. Winterbottom offers three hypotheses:

1. The more demands a mother makes on her child for individual accomplishment and successful independent behavior, the stronger the child’s motivation will be to achieve.

2. The younger the child when mom makes her demands, the stronger the kid’s motivation will be.

3. Achievement is the only way for the child to avoid failure.

At Tyco, Siegel is known for delivering projects under extremely tight deadlines, and for changing the culture at Avon from being “nice to you no matter what you do” to making performance count.

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re a dominant type. But if you happened to spring from a weak mother or father, is your career sunk? Not at all. Every leader can profit from striving for these attributes:

Self-discipline. In a decadent age, when the average American spends $1.22 for every dollar earned, only those who can stay focused and control their impulses will get ahead.

Drive. In your quest to succeed, keep your pace swift and steady. If you lead, others will follow.

Strength. Leaders base their characters and their careers on values that make them strong, from living by a moral code to exhibiting grace under pressure.

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