When a mother brings home her little bundle of joy, she’s bringing home the biggest responsibility of her life. She is now in charge of another human being. She sweats to protect and guide her child through life’s most vulnerable period: childhood.
Sadly, this is not fully recognized and appreciated in our society as the leadership role it is.
After all, what is leadership but the willingness to take some accountability and responsibility for guiding others?
And mothers bring these leadership skills back into their careers. We’ve spent countless hours talking to moms about how the skills they gained from motherhood have served them well in their leadership roles at work. At a recent workshop for women in leadership, we asked the question: What management or leadership skills, abilities or traits have you developed or strengthened because you became a parent?
Here’s a sampling of the many leadership lessons that emerged.
- Time management. We get our kids dressed and ready for school or daycare, pack them a lunch, get ourselves put together for work, put in a solid work day organizing tasks and meeting deadlines, then gather our children, connect with them, eat with them, and get ready to do it all over again. Sometimes, we even surprise ourselves with our productivity and efficiency. Here are some comments we heard about time management:
“I’m amazed at how much time I wasted before I had kids…now I accomplish much more in a shorter time.”
“Moms are machines.”
“I can do so much with so little.”
- Organization. If you’re running a household and a career (according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, women still do the bulk of household chores and caregiving duties) it’s either stay organized or wind up in a fetal position moaning in misery. We’ve seen a variety of styles, from moms who manage to keep everything in their razor sharp heads, to moms who use project management software for work AND home. From deadlines to dental appointments, from permission slips to promotions, moms handle it all.This quote from a real mom is something of an understatement:
“I’m really, really organized now. I track lots of details for lots of people.”
- Holding Perspective. Parenting is about the long game and always keeping the big picture front of mind. Being a mom catalyzes what’s important in life in a way that nothing else seems to match. Moms learn not to sweat the small stuff, at work or at home:
“I’m more grounded. My kids slowed me down and made me realize what was truly important.”
“I have a greater degree of patience.”
“There’s no time to micromanage. I have to empower people to be the best they can be.”
- Emotional intelligence/People skills. Being a mom isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. Yet in true mom fashion, moms tend to make lemonade out of lemons – turning their own struggles into insights that make them more understanding and accepting of others. When you become a mom your empathy goes into overdrive and you realize the positive impact of your compassion, both on your children and your colleagues. Moms put it like this:
“After dealing with a toddler, it’s easier to deal with coworkers.”
“Your team (and your children) are tuned into your emotions.”
“Since I became a mom, I’m more warm, more like a mentor.”
But the quote we heard that best encapsulates what moms bring to leadership roles is this: “If you want something done fast, well and with love, hire a mother.”