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How Being a Mom Makes You a Better Manager

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Shari Storm: As I watched my 2-year-old try to put on her own pull-up, I inhaled deeply through my nose and quietly exhaled out of my mouth. I've discovered that concentrating on my breathing helps me hold back when I'm dying to do something for someone else.

a buisness woman with a baby

Johanna is my third daughter. I've been through this getting-dressed-by-myself routine with two other strong-willed girls, so I've learned a thing or two.

With my first daughter, I sometimes asked, "Do you need Mommy to help you?" After a few angry outbursts on her part, I learned to ask, "Do you want Mommy to help you?" You see, when she was trying to be a big girl, it made her mad to think she "needed" my help. "Wanting" my help, though, was entirely different.

When my second daughter went through this phase, I chanced upon the phrase, "Would you like me to help you?" Even better! Because truly, she didn't "want" my help. She wanted to do it herself.

And then, with my third, I evolved my offer of assistance to "Would you like my help?" It takes the "need," the "want" and "me" out of the picture.

At work, when I see someone struggling, I try my best to frame my offer of assistance like, "Let me know if you'd like help." It's tough to admit in a professional setting that you need help. Often, people will struggle themselves out of a job because they can't bring themselves to ask for assistance. We must be hard-wired to want to do things ourselves.

Moms have an advantage at the office when it comes to assessing and assisting. After all, we spend a great deal of our day figuring out if someone can do something for themselves:

"Can she walk up those stairs on her own?"

"Can she stay by herself after school?"

"Can he go on that trip without a chaperone?"

We've honed the skill of determining whether we need to step in. The takeaway from this post that will make you a better manager? Make sure that the way you step in leaves your coworker feeling empowered and not belittled. Frame your offer to assist in such a way that it is not unconsciously demoralizing to the person you want to help grow.

next: Brilliant Concept: The 'Walking School Bus'
1 comments so far | Post a comment now
Sephanie Williams June 27, 2010, 2:14 PM

Shari, LOVED your article! I totally agree with your observation. There are so many leadership skills and behaviors that we practice and perfect in motherhood. As mothers, we use conflict resolution, delegating, effective listening, decision-making, team building, and the list goes on. All of those are leadership skills that are valued in the workplace! You and I are definitely on the same page. Check out my website and you will see what I mean.

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