5 Invaluable workplace skills I learned as a mother
As a mother, have you ever analyzed the decisions you make on a daily basis? I pondered this at my daughter’s swim practice. I had to help decide whether her body was ready for a workout after recent challenges with respiratory allergies. Sitting by the edge of the pool, ready to pull her out at a moment’s notice, I realized how these potentially stressful decisions are often the norm when raising a family.
Mothers make countless decisions on their family’s behalf
Mothers make decisions related to health, education, socialization, enrichment and character development to help families realize their full potential. Some decisions cause anxiety. What if swim practice was too strenuous? What if the new school isn’t ideal? Some decisions are rudimentary, like managing schedules and bedtime routines.
Parallels between management and motherhood skills
Whether high or low risk, parenting decisions never end. Reflecting on my time in the workforce, I see parallels between management and motherhood. Good managers motivate teams, execute business plans, process feedback, put out fires and support company vision. Likewise, good mothers understand their children's needs, implement a structure for family life, evaluate decisions, problem solve and invariably move forward to promote growth.
Network of leadership experts
I think it's worth connecting the dots. If leadership involves the ability to make decisions, then the perpetual decisions of motherhood are building a network of leadership experts. Mothers deserve to feel confidence for time spent raising families, especially while using skills that help drive success in business and management.
What situations do mothers handle during a typical work day? Here are some examples:
- Should she stay home from school with this cough? Did I call the doctor soon enough? (critical decision making)
- Should she attend the sleepover to connect with friends, or will the sleepover kill her energy tomorrow? (cost/benefit)
- You're re-reading that book again? Let's refresh the selection. Books provide plenty of options over digital media. (research/enrichment)
- What healthy lunch will the kids eat and not trade away? (theory vs. practice)
- What's the deadline for basketball registration? Is there a coach, or should I volunteer (again!) so the team can play? (putting the team's needs first)
- Will the laundry pile fold itself? Can we complete chores without nagging? (accountability, respect)
- How do we make a wolf costume for Halloween and keep a child with food allergies safe while trick or treating? (creative problem solving)
- It's inconvenient to drive across town for separate activities for each sibling, but it's important to develop their own identity, so the tradeoff of convenience is worth their personal development. (long term vision)
- Is there enough time to complete homework and still go to bed early? (time management)
While some decisions are riskier than others, all decisions strive to make progress. While parenting, I've never witnessed a mother give up. They move forward relentlessly until well-being is achieved.
Business skills mothers use in real life
What makes a good manager? Is what makes a good manager similar to what makes a good mother? Here are five skills mothers use to manage each day:
- Observation — Mothers look, listen and feel. They tune into wavelengths undetectable to the naked eye. They spot a cold a week away. They realize their child's emotional state upon first sight. Acute observational skills help managers understand what motivates a team or satisfies a client. Good mothers, and good managers, identify subtle details that can make or break a deal.
- Quick critical thinking — Moms don’t dither. Should you call the ER? Should the impromptu sleepover request be denied? Kids ask questions regularly. Moms draw the boundary lines. In business, managers call the shots when a situation arises. Will they meet a product launch or delay to optimize the product? When the keynote speaker doesn't show, who takes their place? Thoughtful improvisation is routine work for moms and bosses alike.
- Evaluate feedback — Initial decisions are not always right. Maybe the cough worsened after you sent the child to school. Maybe a manager underestimated a competing product. Mothers and managers often ask, "What changed, and how does that impact my original decision?"
- Problem solving — Mothers don’t give up because they can’t give up. Answers are mandatory in the pursuit of well-being. As issues arise like autism, food allergies or cyber-bullying, more mothers are creating solutions. Social networks enable mothers to connect, and these networks raise advocacy and awareness in the national conversation. They tackle big problems with effective outcomes and lend each other support along the way.
- Vision — Mothers look forward to anticipate the next stage of growth and development. A current sports schedule may conflict with future academic goals. Music practice may intensify to make high school band. Moms nurture a family dynamic that blends household principles with a child's preferences, helping each family member uncover their unique potential. "Help me, help you" is one of the kindest and most effective types of diplomacy — in all walks of life.
Ready for the workplace? You’ve earned it.
At your next interview, be prepared for the question about qualifications. Then, look the interviewer straight in the eye and say, "Yes, my experience in leadership and critical decision making would make me an ideal candidate for this position. Let me tell you why..."
Congratulations, mothers, on all of your next steps.