I had the chance to hear from some “outstanding mothers” at the 41st Annual Outstanding Mother Awards, held at the Pierre Hotel in New York City on May 9. The event is held annually by the National Mother’s Day Committee, an entity of the Father’s Day/Mother’s Day Council, a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization that donates funds to family-related charities. To date, the National Father’s Day/Mother’s Day Council has donated over $30 million to deserving family-related charities nationwide. This year, the awards luncheon raised a record $750,000 to benefit Save the Children’s U.S. programs.
This year, the 41st Annual Outstanding Mother Awards honored:
- Michelle Gass, CEO, Kohl’s
- Rebecca Minkoff, Co-Founder and Creative Director, Rebecca Minkoff
- Gina M. Raimondo, Governor of Rhode Island
- Jill Scalamandre, President, bareMinerals
- Champion for Children Award: Jennifer Garner, Actor and Trustee, Save the Children
All honorees were recognized for balancing successful careers with the demands of motherhood. This year’s honorees shared insights on what being a mom means to them, as well as offered insights into how they’ve been able to achieves success as women, business leaders, and mothers.
Michelle Gass spoke about how she believes the three characteristics that make outstanding mothers are empathy, resilience and courage, and that these are the same attributes that define amazing leaders. “Outstanding mothers create outstanding leaders,” Gass noted.
As for empathy, Gass said that leaders who empathize with their people, their customers and their partners “set an environment to bring out the best in others, just like we try to do with our own children.” As for reliance, Gass said it’s all about “responding and navigating effectively to the unexpected. And when I think about outstanding mothers, fathers and business leaders, I think about those individuals who exhibit incredible resilience and tenacity. Whatever daunting situation they’re facing, they keep their head high and they power on.”
Finally, as for courage, Gass said, “in our family, courage is core to our values. We want our kids to have courage and confidence in themselves to pursue their own dreams in whatever they may be.” Gass also discussed leadership courage, saying “this is an attribute I seek to encourage in myself and in all those I work with. My partners and I, we’re really trying to build leadership courage as part of the Kohl’s culture.”
The transformational partnership Kohl’s recently announced with Amazon.com, in which all Kohl’s stores will accept free returns for Amazon customers, is an example of such leadership courage, Gass said. “Nothing great has come from small, safe steps. The biggest, greatest ideas, or as we say at Kohl’s, ‘greatness,’ comes from courage and comes from the heart.”
In closing, Gass reiterated that empathy, resilience, courage and, of course, love, among many other things, are attributes that “define outstanding mothers, who also make outstanding leaders.”
At the Outstanding Mother Awards, Women in Retail Leadership Circle interviewed Rebecca Minkoff, Jill Scalamandre, and Joanna Coles, executive producer of “The Bold Type” and author of “Love Rules,” and a 2015 Outstanding Mother honoree, about what the honor means to them, their leadership styles, their favorites quotes or mantras, and more. Watch the interviews below.