These days, more and more women are being thrust into leadership positions. The strengths traditionally attributed to women (and specifically mothers) are being recognized for the value they bring to the business world.
“When I was researching my book about the secrets of successful women, I realized something amazing (but not surprising),” says Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly, coauthor of Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life. “All moms are leading women. Whether a mother works outside the home or not, nowhere are her leadership skills more apparent than when she parents her children.”
If you’re considering adding a mother to your management team, here are three reasons a mother is the best person for the job:
Mothers look for the best solution
Executing a new business plan? Managing a team dedicated to a new sales process? Chances are you’re going to face an obstacle or two.
Instead of digging in her heels, a woman is far more likely to keep her options open. Mothers look for solutions that benefit everyone. “If a stubborn three-year-old is refusing to eat her green beans, it’s almost impossible to force her. A mom knows to say, ‘I forgot to tell you, these are special Barney beans. That means if you eat them, you can watch your Barney DVD after bath time.’”
Mothers know how to empathize
Such “soft skills” as nurturing and understanding others are generally not taught in leadership seminars. And yet, they can be invaluable in a business setting. The ability to relate to others can have an enormous effect on company morale and lead to greater productivity.
“Even more than business leaders, mothers give freely of their time, energy and love — usually without questioning it for a second,” says O’Reilly. “Soft skills fuel performance because they speak to the acknowledgment and validation people crave.”
Mothers are good communicators
Women sometimes face criticism for their tendency to chat. (This is actually a misconception: Research indicates that men do the most talking during meetings.) Nevertheless, the way in which women communicate imparts valuable information. “This benefits us not only professionally, but at home, too. We know what’s going on at school, down the street, and in the community — and we can leverage that knowledge.”
Even in the modern, enlightened business world, career and motherhood are sometimes seen as mutually exclusive, explains O’Reilly. “By seeing mothers as leaders whose parenting experience can translate profitably into the professional realm, all of us — moms, families, and organizations — stand to gain tremendously.”
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