Motherhood Can Be an Asset for Leadership
It’s time that more of us see how the personal lives of women with children can be sources of strength and capacity for leadership.
Yes, there are real challenges with working and parenting for all of us. And we all spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking and talking about those challenges when it comes to women and leadership.
What if we spent just 10% more energy focused on seeing and seeking the benefits of motherhood for leadership, and using those assets to drive through the issues? Smart leaders do that with business problems.
In our first study, we learned that the majority of our LeaderMom panelists — nearly 7 in 10 (68%) — believed that being a mother made them MORE effective at work. Again, our panelists meet two criteria: They are high performers at work and are admired for being highly engaged as parents too. Since they are effective and believe motherhood is part of the reason, it seems reasonable to give that idea some more attention.
Recently we started having more intentional dialogues on this topic, in small groups and in interviews. Recently, Maria Sirois, PsyD, asked a group, “How does motherhood elevate or support your ability to be a better performer at work?” Below are their replies, grouped into 3 themes. Among the transferrable skills are knowing what actually matters, prioritization and productivity, and emotional intelligence that helps them to engage and organize people to produce and to get along over time.
Who doesn’t want more of that at work?
Perspective on What Really Matters
“I am always mindful of modeling.”
“Being a mom not only made me a better performer at work, but also made me aware of what is truly important in life and not to sweat the small stuff…”
“I hold my ground with more certainty.”
“We learn what is really crisis and what isn't.”
Productivity & Organization
“Let’s not forget expertise in time management.”
“Being a mom grounds me and keeps me organized.”
“Getting lots done with very little sleep!”
“Everyday in my family is about us supporting each other. It’s about getting the kids to they do what they need to do and get where they need to be, without have to do it all myself.”
“First, as a mother, I have learned to be great at multi-tasking!”
“I'm more efficient with time and task management/consolidation.”
“I am more efficient at everything!”
Engaging & Relating to Others with Kindness & Emotional Intelligence
“ I have learned listening and patience from being a mother, which definitely helps in business....”
“…Learning when NOT to step in has been even more important than stepping in, and that directly applies to my work too, knowing when to listen, rather than speak.”
“In the most challenging moments I try to imagine that each person I face (including myself) was once a little one and is moving through this life with whatever resources they were offered”
“As a mother of adult children, the evolution of my relationship with my children through their growth, loss, marriages, and birthing and raising their own little children, has given me an empathy and perspective with my congregants and clients. My mothering both now and through the years makes me a compassionate leader, know how to tell a good story, negotiate disputes, soothe a hurt, advocate, and model resilience.”
“Empathy, as I remember that every person I deal with in a day is someone’s beloved child.”
“Expect nothing and you will never be disappointed... I applied this mantra when I was struggling to develop a positive relationship with my son. Once I stopped focusing on the stuff he wasn’t doing (or rather, the stuff I wanted him to do) and started seeing the stuff he was doing well (being kind, helpful, loving and being curious), our relationship completely changed and continues to flourish …”