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5 Ways Being A Mom Makes You A Better Boss
How mothering and bossing make you even more brilliant at both.
Post Contributed By Jess Critchlow
Jess is the top dog at Light UP Work where she helps digital entrepreneurs with all of their people and team ‘stuff’ so they can build their team and grow their biz. When she’s not coaching, consulting and cajoling bosses you can find her enjoying life with her crazy kiddo and husband in Windsor Canada. You can find out more at http://www.lightupwork.com.
Let’s rewind the clock for a second to over a decade ago.
It was 2007 and I was an eager 20 something in my first REAL corporate job.
My boss, Marilyn, was a brilliant woman who was also a beloved mentor for me. She was wise, patient, caring, intelligent and she got shit done.
She was the real deal.
On this particular day, she had an important meeting scheduled with a senior VP at the organization.
She was prepped, ready to wow them (as she always did)…and then it happened.
The school called… again.
“Marilyn, you’ll have to come and get your daughter, she’s not feeling well.”
With 15 minutes left until her presentation, my boss drove to the school to pick up her daughter, plopped her daughter (and a coloring book) into a seat near me in our shared office, and raced off to her very important meeting.
20-year-old me looked at that 5-year-old and thought…
“I don’t know how she does it. Having kids must make her career life so much more difficult. I don’t think I can manage to have kids and a career, it seems too hard“
Fast forward to 2018.
My kiddo is napping as I type (a miracle in itself), allowing me to squeeze just a few more minutes into my workday.
And you know what I’ve only just now begun to appreciate since having my own little one?
Having children made it more challenging for Marilyn’s career… but it also made her better.
She was the most amazing boss and mentor not in spite of being a mother, but because of itClick To Tweet
What is it about being a mom that makes us better bosses?
In a word: Practice.
You’ve probably heard the old adage that to get truly masterful at anything you need to practice for at least 10,000 hours.
The kind of practice that entails mistakes, feedback, and chances to try again.
No degree, leadership retreat, coach, TED talk or book will ever replace good old fashioned practice.
Being a mom means that you practice these skills all day, every day.
You are getting your 10,000 hours at warp speed – no breaks, no vacations.
The 5 Ways Being A Mom Makes You A Better Boss
How mothering and bossing overlap to make you even more brilliant at both.
1. Efficiency and Asking for Help
Your kiddo needs to be at swim class at 6 pm. You have 872 things to do that day. You find a way to prioritize the top 3 things, schedule in the rest, and get that kid to swim class.
Moms are super efficient during their work day because they have to be.
There’s no ‘oh well, I’ll just stay late a couple hours and get it done eventually’.
Nope, not an option when you have to juggle soccer practice, swim class and sew a costume for the school play.
Thankfully it’s not the Middle Ages, so you don’t always have to do it all on your own… but that means you get plenty of practice with efficiency, delegation, and asking for help.
All trademarks of a great Boss (and a great mom).
There is nothing like mothering to teach resilience.
Your toddler just lost their mind because you gave them the red cup instead of the blue one (how dare you?!).
Your teenager told you how they hate living with you… for the fifth time that week.
Your ten-year-old once again responded with ‘nothing’ and turned on their phone when you asked how school was.
And what do you do?
Breathe, reboot, shake it off, and go back in for more.
As bosses that is exactly what we can bring to our teams: the ability to shake off any setback.
We can have that tough sales call or board meeting and still go back to our teams and be able to motivate them, coach them, give them feedback and be there for them.
3. What Not How… aka Pick Your Battles
The best Bosses are able to decide what needs to be done and what a good end result will look like while avoiding the temptation of prescribing exactly how it needs to be done (also known as micromanaging).
Who is better at this than moms?
We just happen to call it something slightly different: Pick Your Battles.
The kids ate all their broccoli but mostly fed their meatloaf to the dog?
Put it in the win column and move on!
Moms become exceptionally skilled at focusing on the bigger perspective and end goal… and letting go of the little stuff.
Exactly what a great Boss does.
4. Balancing Relationship AND Task
Moms and great Bosses both inherently understand that the task is JUST as important as the relationship.
That finishing a report on time is important… and equally important is having the conversation to find out why your team member has been so withdrawn all week.
That doing homework and getting dinner on the table is important… and equally important is putting phones and iPads away and just talking about what happened that day at school.
Both the relationship AND the task get equal billing.
Sacrificing relationships for the sake of getting shit done is a mistake many of us regularly make… but we learn pretty quickly to correct back (after we’ve paid the price).
5. Mixing Empathy and Bravery
Last but certainly not least… the magic sauce of amazing bosses… a rich mix of empathy and bravery.
Empathy is the ability to understand another person, read their emotional cues and be able to think from their perspective.
Bravery is doing the hard thing, the vulnerable thing, the uncomfortable thing.
Moms regularly have to bring BOTH to the table, being able to read their child, pick up on their cues and moods, and really understand their perspective while still:
…saying no to the music fest.
…grounding them from their friend’s birthday party that they’ve been looking forward to.
…admitting to the whole Santa Claus thing (yikes!).
Great bosses are defined by their ability to both think from another’s perspective and make tough decisions.
Not either/or, but both/and.
And who has more practice at that than moms?
Balancing motherhood and a career is freaking hard, which I’ve only now begun to appreciate. Practicing all of these truly difficult skills with no holidays, no breaks, all day everyday… is exactly what makes us moms a force to be reckoned with.
And ironically that’s WHY it makes us better bosses.
It makes us the boss that some new 20-year-old is looking at in wonder, thinking ‘Jeez that must be so hard’.
It is kid, it is… And it’s also totally worth it.
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