Being a Joyful Leader in Your Home

being a joyful leader - 31 days of joy in motherhood with thishappymom.comI admit that “being a joyful leader in your home” sounds a little odd.  Maybe a little boring.  But it’s been bouncing around in my head for long enough.  It’s prompted some changes in our home that are working.

Mom, what’s your leadership style in the home?

Do you know? Do your kids know? Do you have a vision for how leadership happens in your home?

Being able to get our kids to do what we want is the byproduct (in part) of effective leadership.   And yes – when it happens we feel joy.

First things first.

My family agrees that my husband is the head of the house.  I don’t compete with him.  I willingly submit to his authority.  That works for us.  (we tried other stuff early in our marriage that didn’t work.  this does.  and it’s Biblically sound.)

Nothing I write today is intended to upset that balance.

A quick explanation of leadership styles

For those of you who are lucky enough to avoid “management of organizational behavior” class (it was boring), here’s a quick summary of leadership styles.

Depending on who you want to believe, there are up to ten different leadership styles.   It gets complicated, but it’s actually an interesting topic to explore.

Some of how we lead is based on how much actual authority we have.  Policemen direct traffic with one hand based on their POSITIONAL authority and are rarely questioned.   Followers want to obey the leader.

Some of how we lead is based on the relationships we have.  Our friends can get us to do things (lead us) based on the RELATIONAL authority they have.  Followers want to please the leader.

Some of how we lead comes from the vision we can communicate.  Your favorite politician wants to lead us based on the INSPIRATIONAL authority he or she has. Followers are bought in to a common vision defined by the leader.

(that’s a gross over simplification. there’s a ton of different styles for each of those three buckets)

Leadership as a mom


  • Because I said so.
  • I’m the MOM, that’s why.
  • Do it or else.
  • That’s the rule.


  • You need to help me by doing this.
  • I want you to do this so we can do that.
  • Here, let me teach you.
  • Let’s do it together.
  • What if we did it this way?
  • What if we did this instead?


  • Remember how we want to have the house clean and ready for your playdate next week?  Well today we need to do this to get ready for that.
  • Our family vision is to have dinner at home together three nights a week, so you having basketball practice six nights a week during dinner doesn’t fit that vision.   How can we solve that?
  • I believe in you and want you to do your best.  We need to work together on your spelling so you can rock that spelling test in the morning.

Let’s be honest.

No one style works all the time.  There is no absolute “best” leadership style for every situation.  And yes, some styles work better for certain developmental stages in childhood.  (My toddlers needed the clarity of “orders” much of the time.  We saved “logic” for when they were at their best.)

At the end of the day, I’m going to go with that “authoritarian” stuff and end the discussion rather than let my kids treat me like a live-in maid.

But if all I ever do is use that authoritarian style, that kind of stinks.  Sure, it may be faster in the short term.  But I hate it when I feel like a drill sergeant.

More importantly, my kids aren’t growing.  If they just have to respond to my “orders’ then they aren’t learning to think for themselves.  They aren’t learning accountability.   They won’t ever mature into young men who can be inspired to do things for myself and I’ll be stuck in drill sergeant mode forever.  Yuck.

Using just one style all the time would stink and suck the joy right out of my home.

Using the right style would make parenting easier and would bring me joy!

But “Inspirational” isn’t working

I’d love to just set a vision of “clean house, great grades” and walk around inspiring my kids to greatness.  Wouldn’t it be awesome to sit there drinking an iced tea while I inspire my kids to cook dinner and serve it to me.

Ha.  HaHa.   HaHaHaHahahahahaha.  Ha.

But I know someone with a 20 year old daughter that lives at home and IS that inspired.  She cleans her “portion” of the house without prompting too.  So it IS possible.

While I don’t think this can be my only way to lead my children, I do think the idea of inspiring them has a place in the mom tool-box.

I also recognize that using this leadership style requires that I have a vision for them.  That’s why right now, I set a monthly life-skill goal for them.  (Last month was using their school issued planners.  This month is putting away their laundry.)

I love how Forbes magazine broke down The 7 Secrets of Inspiring Leaders.

I – Ignite your enthusiasm

N – Navigate a course of action

S – Sell the benefit

P – Paint a picture

I – Invite Participation

R -Reinforce optimism

E – Encourage potential

If I apply that to my vision of motherhood for my own family, I’ve got some work to do.  I’m not really very good at that “enthusiasm” thing and I often forget to paint a picture for my kids.

And that “relational” thing

Mom, you’ve got this one.  It’s the part of motherhood that can’t be outsourced.  It’s the benefit of playing with our kids.

Just spend time with your kids (listening and playing) when you aren’t in drill sergeant mode.  Invest in the relationship without any motive beyond love.

Being a Joyful Leader in Your Home

It shouldn’t be hard, but it does take having the right tools in the toolbox.

Feeling confident in my ability to lead my kids (and get them to do what I want them to do) feels good.  It makes me feel competent and enjoy motherhood.

Your “joy assignment” for today is to think about how each of these leadership styles can work in your own home in various situations. This is something you may want to discuss with your husband.

I’d love to know what you think.  Are you a joyful leader in your home?

This is day 12 of 31 days of Joy in Motherhood.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Houston Mom Blogger Susan Baker has a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood. She has two elementary school boys, one engineering husband, and one cat. She has a strange fascination for eggs, socks, and books. She spends far too much time on Social Media and at Target. She is crazy in love with her family. She serves an amazing God. She lives an ordinary life filled with wonder. [/author_info] [/author]

Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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  1. This is a great post! It gives me lots to think about as I’m on a quest to reorganize our mornings and evenings to run a bit smoother and I bet being a joyful leader would help quite a bit.
    Jean recently posted..Sports Scheduling ConflictsMy Profile

    • Jean, it has me re-thinking some stuff too. When I take the time to give my boys a vision of what we’re doing (instead of just barking orders) they really do respond. So why don’t I do it more often???

  2. wow…thanks for all the great info and resources…I am trying, but now I have a greater grasp of what to do to be a better at it.
    karen recently posted..Stop the RACE and have a burgerMy Profile

    • Baby steps. This is a big hunk of info to chew on, so it may feel overwhelming. If so, take it slowly. The blog post won’t be going anywhere. And rumor has it I may turn this series into an ebook. 🙂 I confess- it took me a few weeks of thinking about this before I was ready to post it.

      And you are an awesome mom. Dino is lucky to have you.

  3. Very inspirational and I think moms need to hear about leadership often because sometimes we are just worn down to a frazzle and its hard to be any kind of a leader.

    In other words, you rock mam.

    Momma Can – Pam` recently posted..How to Find Your Momma Groove – Sick DaysMy Profile

    • Aw…. Thank you. I think my kids are glad I wrote on this topic because they are responding to the change in leadership style at home. I hope it inspires others as well.

  4. Do we really have to have a leader in our home? Is this still applicable even if everyone in the family is responsible?

    • In one of my graduate school business classes, we spent a lot of time talking about how it was important to manage each person based on their own abilities. I forget the name of the theory, but it based on a matrix of motivation (motivated or not) and ability (capable or not). That gave you 4 different categories of workers, each with their own needs. Based on your URL, I’m assuming you would be familiar with the theory.

      Even for the most motivated and capable of employee, there was still a need for a manager. It was a very different management role than for an unmotivated and incapable worker, but it was still there.

      For the unmotivated/incapable worker, you might need to check on them twice a day, be extremely specific with how you detail out tasks and expectations, and break bigger tasks up with smaller check points. That’s like when you’re teaching a small child to make their bed and clean their room. Lots of detail, lots of subtasks, lots of supervision, and lots of reteaching.

      For the motivated/capable worker, you might check in once a week to make sure both parties are still on the same big picture page. The conversation would be more driven by the worker, with the worker identifying areas where they need managerial assistance to remove systematic roadblocks. That’s pretty similar to how an all adult (or adult/teen) family can function.

      The manager (home leader) is still needed to work conflicts between workers, to set priorities between projects, and to set the overall vision.

      Does that answer your question? If not, I can try again.

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  6. The four types of leadership discussed here could be place on a continuum from authoritarian to democratic. It should also be apparent that the most democratic form of leadership defined above, that of mutual means, requires a person with greater ability to persuade and with greater knowledge of his job than the less democratic forms. Such a leader can never resort to the simple expedient of saying to a member of his group: “Do it or else!”

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