Can Having Kids Make You a Better Leader?
I am a mom. I gave birth to my daughter under less than ideal circumstances. There were multiple complications with both her and me; she was 6 weeks early and had an Apgar score of 3. Read: there was an excellent chance that this kid wasn't going to grow up to be a seven-year-old hip-hop-loving, pink-haired, Frog and Toad fan. And, my knock-knock joke telling, Uno addicted son was born two years later
This is a thank you note to those kids--not for the homemade cards, the gooey kisses, or welcome home hugs at the end of a workday. This is a thank you to Sydney and Houston for making me a better CEO.
Pop culture would have us believe that having kids makes us soft, distracted, and unhappy. Instead, motherhood has made me more focused, more productive, and more effective. (That this is counter-culture is proof that we need more women directors and producers in Hollywood.)
1. Sixth sense. Remember when your mom told she had eyes in the back of her head? She wasn't lying. That ability to know when my kid is ready for a nap or has a fever just by kissing his head--it translates to work too. I have a better read on what's going on in the other room, when someone is burned out, etc.
Don't mistake this empathy for sappy sensitivity. I haven't gone soft. In fact, I think being a mom makes you tougher, which leads to my next point...
2. Teflon factor. Kids turn you into a non-stick receptacle--quite literally, as spit, snot, puke, poop, and non-tangible items like tantrums, crazy requests, etc., all roll off me like a pancake slipping out of a pan. Having two babies gave me an impenetrable invisible safety shield. Its much tougher to shake me now. Facing a frustrated sponsor or a financial report with a typo in it doesn't feel so scary once you've pushed a small human being out of a tiny canal. Bring on your mess. I've cleaned up worse.
3. Time turner. My kids have taught me to bend time. Actually, it isn't so much about making more time, but using it more wisely. When my schedule was purely my own, scheduling was a luxury. Since having kids, I have less time to waste. I schedule more effectively. I quickly slice to the heart of an issue. I write in shorter sentences.
4. Sieve. Have you ever tried t understand what an 18 month old is saying? How about an 18 month old having a temper tantrum...while on the phone? I have learned to sift through chunks of information to hear what someone is really trying to communicate. What is the point f this speech or this long email? My ability to refine, to tune, to edit--its all enhanced now.
I don't think I'm alone. I've talked to other mom leaders and they feel the same way. I'm hoping the comments on this article will fill up with more ways we've become better leaders since having kids. Lets knock down the stereotype together...