As lady bosses, how do we win in the struggle to fit our voluptuous mother brains into rigid business models? Especially when the model was never designed for us to begin with.
We redefine the model. Create a new one – one that honors our future-driven, mama minds.
Lately, I have been coming across some important dialogue. High-achieving, successful women leaders at large companies, asking for help from other working mothers regarding how to manage employees who are new mothers.
It goes something like this: they have leadership positions, the new mother has to work from home often because the baby is sick, and they are both concerned about supporting the employee as well as how this will effect the bottom line.
And often, in that message, a specific myth comes to life that sounds something like this:
“…everyone knows that working from home means not working.”
Firstly, this predicament is a common struggle and I applaud any woman leader who takes the initiative to speak up about it – and even more when she asks other working mothers about how to solve the issue. That willingness to collaborate, to admit we do not know the answers, and to look for the answers amongst each other, is a beautiful sign of female leadership.
As mothers ourselves, we all know that the newborn situation is temporary. Yet we are quick to adopt the viewpoint that devalues our potential when we become mothers.
Why do we do this?
Because we carry limiting beliefs about ourselves, beliefs which come from a history of these messages that devalue us as women and mothers.
It is a coping mechanism, the result of trying to play the Old Boy’s Club game to get ahead, but being scared to reject that message when we reach a leadership position.
“As a leader and a mother…” The answer lies right there.
A mother is a leader by nature and by situation.
I like to say becoming a mother is the quickest way to sharpen those leadership skills. An MBA has nothing on us.
Time management. Crisis management. People management. Project management. Profit management. Delegation. Prioritizing. Lasering.
These are skills that mothers suddenly find themselves adopting in lightening speed in order to achieve the greatest goal: nurturing growth. Your growth, your baby’s growth, your family’s growth. And yes, even your company’s growth.
Mothers are pre-wired leaders. The only thing stopping us is how we buy into our de-valuation. Click To Tweet
So what do we do when we have achieved a leadership position and find ourselves leading females who have become mothers? (And might I add, men who have become fathers.)
We step up and become the feminine leaders we are here to be. Because in doing so, we command our collective value.
Here are the real qualities of a strong, feminine, lady-boss leader:
- Long-term vision. That includes a vision of creating a business model we we can all embrace and enjoy the benefits of a feminine energy so tangibly lacking in the current model.
- Being an unapologetic working mother. Recognize that being a leader does not mean we have to put on an Alpha Male costume and pretend we are not women – nor mothers. You will have dummies in your briefcase, spit up on your clothes, funny stories about poop, days when your child has priority, and tales of overwhelm. Tell the stories. It makes them normal. It heals all of us.
- Be the woman you are. Your ambitious mind may be wrapped in a suit, but your soul has other ideas. Listen to it. You can do it all in bright lipstick, flowy scarves or yoga pants if you want. Just do it as you.
- A feminine leader is a game changer. She realises that the current business model was never built for or by women to begin with and is willing to reinvent the business model to include what women bring to the table in all of their life cycles.
- Embrace your long-term visionary. Studies show that women leaders tend to be less impulsive, have long-term vision and enjoy more sustainability. When it comes to our new-mum employees, it is our duty as leaders to tap into that visionary, to ask ourselves to honor the potential these women bring to the table not only now, but above all in the future. And invest in that future. Not just the right-now bottom line.
- Reject our devaluation. A lady boss rejects the stereotypes – and above all the devaluation – of mothers. Focus on the immense value that mothers bring and can bring.
- Ride out the temporary. A feminine leader understands that a mother’s need to be with her sick child is temporary and is willing to ride it out.
- See the difference between perfectionism, hours worked and productivity. Scoff at the notion that a mother “does not do any work when at home” – and embrace that it is not the length of time she works, but precisely what she creates and delivers that is important. Acknowledge that the spurts of work a mother does in between caring for her sick baby, changing diapers, pumping, or rocking it to sleep, are often super lasered and on point simply because she has no other choice.
- Value the lasered “motherload” skillset. A feminine leader realises that it is the decisiveness, focus and sharpness of the work a mother produces while working from home are extremely valuable. Let her master this art. It has nothing to do with how long she is sitting at her desk. Even when she is holding, nursing or caring for baby, she is still thinking and forming her ideas for her work so she can eventually sit down and bring those ideas to life.
- Let her inspire you to get even more lasered yourself. Team up with this new mother to prioritise her temporary workflow, remove the small things that take this mother away from her core work – unnecessary meetings or emails, tasks without priority, etc – and help her delegate it for the time being. You are a leader. Show her what this is all about and be open to learning from her.
- Aim for win-win. Go for what is sustainable for long term achievement and not just an immediate bottom line. Ideas could be anything from suggesting or even contributing to child care for even a few hours a day when Mom is home with a sick baby, allowing a mother to bring her child into work, allowing a mother to shift her work into the evenings, allowing a mother to possibly do a work share for a period of time. Make a promise to bring her back when she is ready to reward her for being a pro-active part of the solution.
You earn loyalty. You inspire. You motivate.
You build a team of people who admire and look up to you, trust you, are very dedicated and who have a cumulated desire to really do the company right.
You have worked hard to be a leader and a mother. There is a reason you are now here in this role.
To be a game changer.
To raise the value of women in the workforce based on what they offer as women. To inspire men to do the same. To inspire that feminine energy in them as well.
If you do that, you will not only be a leader of business, but also of a new economy.