Do Moms Make Better Business Leaders?
‘Mom’ Skills You Can Apply in the Professional World
Patience, Flexibility, Authority: They All Translate Into Executive Roles
By Neela Seenandan
As parents, there are all kinds of good, solid skills and characteristics we gradually acquire over the years to effectively raise our children. But can these same parenting traits make us better executives in the professional world? Most definitely.
In fact, through experiences at home and in the workplace, moms can learn how to successfully bridge the two worlds with both compassion and confidence.
The reality of life today is that we are a busy society. Mom skills aren’t only useful for taking care of the household and the family, they are actually quite transferable to a wide range of career situations.
We all know that raising our kids can teach us how to keep our cool under pressure, help us roll with the punches and how to always stay on our toes.
Once you discover how you can effectively lead an office team like you run your home — with empathy, compassion, humor, fun and authority — you will find it difficult not to feel empowered.
Whether you’re looking to land your next high-level executive job, or simply looking for a way to make life at your current place of employment run more smoothly, the following are a few “mom” characteristics and skills you can use in the workplace:
1. Patience. Children require a great deal of patience, and not everyone is blessed with this skill from the beginning (have you ever waited for a four-year-old to get dressed and get in the car?) For most of us, patience takes time and practice to develop, and there are few things that can provide that practice better than parenting. The same patience can be applied in the professional world. Practicing patience in the workplace, like at home, requires you to be a great listener and ask questions. It demands that you take a deep breath to help solve a problem. It reminds us to not always be in a rush; and to respect and embrace the process.
2. Flexibility. Have you ever discovered that after you and your toddler are dressed, fed and ready to head out that it’s suddenly diaper-changing time (again!). Children are always full of surprises, and staying flexible is a necessity we quickly learn in order to maintain sanity. Most days are full of challenges and interruptions, and if there is one thing that is consistent about parenting, it’s that there’s never a dull moment. Being inflexible is not an option for moms, nor does it serve us well in the business world. Colleagues can be indecisive, situations can change and even your role can evolve. Having the flexibility to gracefully manage the unexpected is a skill that can serve executives well in an office setting.
3. Organizational skills. The home of a busy family is similar to the setting of a busy company. As moms, we are typically the managers of our homes, and we have to make sure that all of our departments are functioning properly. Moms oversee meal plans, household maintenance and cleaning, kids’ activities, education and much more. Juggling all of these activities is no different than managing a roster of clients or coordinating a company event.
4. Determination. Have you ever tried to feed a two-year-old vegetables? The same degree of effort and willpower are key ingredients for those female executives striving to juggle family and business obligations. Most moms find they need to boast a certain level of determination in order to strike the right balance between work and home life. Try not to waiver: We’ve all experienced how easy it can be to try and add one more thing to our plate, thinking, “It’s just one quick meeting,” or “I need to send one more email.” However, with a certain level of determination, it’s still possible to carve out time for each task, without allowing everything else to fall behind.
5. Collaboration. If there’s one person who knows how to compromise, it’s a mother. Think about it: Moms often can’t get past mealtime without some form of collaboration and negotiation. The office environment is no different. Moms are more inclined to examine an issue from all sides; they don’t mind sharing a project or reshaping it to fit everyone’s needs.
6. Look at the big picture. Raising a child is one of the toughest jobs in the world. We all have to worry about teaching our kids to tie their shoes, remember their doctor appointments, help our 8th graders with Algebra, encourage proper social skills and prep our teens for college. This ability to keep the big picture in focus while checking off the “little things” is an unparalleled skill — and one that serves most moms well in the professional world. Our children teach us what obligations and responsibilities are truly important, and what can simply wait until tomorrow, or even the next day.
Neela Seenandan is the co-Managing Partner of Hanold Associates and is focused on leading senior level professional services and HR leadership assignments.
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