I have not talked to her in years. I have not seen her for a while. Years have passed. I’ve worked in a variety of work and under many bosses. But she was different. She was more than an authority figure to me. She was a mentor, a friend, a role model. She was my work mom.
I was on my way to grad school thousand of miles away. I can only take a job that allows me to do part time work while I was studying for GRE and doing my school applications. My friend told me they needed some help in her workplace. It was time limited. It was the perfect fit.
I went to work not expecting a lot. It was an in-between job and I was just happy to be earning some extra money. But it turned out to be more than a job. I met lifelong friends, I learned about work ethics (good and bad), and met the mentor who would shape my view of an ideal boss: The first time I saw her, she came with no fanfare, no swagger to give any indication that she was the boss of the department. Instead, what I saw was a woman who commanded respect, not because she had an arrogance about her, but because her soft and firm stance exudes class, decisiveness, and confidence in herself and her people. Over time, I saw how a woman of few words worked more efficiently than the men over her. She didn’t bark orders, she just executed them. She didn’t rule by force, she managed with mutual respect. She didn’t use fear to achieve results, she motivated and inspired confidence and teamwork among her team, pushing us to be our best and most effective at work. We regard her as our leader, but never once did she ever made us feel like she was higher than us, never once did she utter dreaded clichéd statements like “I’m your boss and you do as I say”; “I’m your boss, I’m not your friend”.
She was not a loud person, but her words speak clearly and loudly to all of us who had the pleasure of working with her. Her humble nature revealed a wisdom far beyond her years- it reminds me, many years later, after I have become a manager myself, that good leadership does not come with a bragging heart, but it is through Godly humility, with a mind willing to learn, a heart able to respect, and a soul inspired to do the best work she can that defines a good leader.
So this month, on Mother’s Day (Mother’s Month- I call it), I would like to pay tribute to my work mom. To my/our work mom- you may not know how deeply you touched all of us, but we are all better people because of you. You molded me and taught me the value of leadership through inspired motivation . You are the epitome of kindness and godliness. You gave me the gift of authentic friendship and mentorship. You gave me the gift of you. Thank you. Love you always work mama~