Two years ago, Amber Fehrenbacher was in a mid-twenties career limbo. She had just left a position at a digital marketing agency after being told by her supervisor to be quiet. Since then, she has never looked back, because of her dignity.
Although experiences like this are never easy to come back from, she felt optimistic about one door closing to another one opening. But her glass-half-full outlook quickly began to fade with the disappointing reality that her opportunities as an experienced online marketer weren't nearly as overflowing as they would be in say, Chicago or San Francisco (she lives in Columbia, Missouri). Amber also has two small children. With the outrageous costs of daycare, she wasn't willing to leave her children again for five days a week to people she barely knew just to net an extra hundred bucks a month.
Amber felt she had arrived at the classic modern woman's intersection of family and career. She ended up playing an internal game that felt very similar to fitting a square peg into a round hole. She was attempting to convince herself that she didn't need to work to feel truly fulfilled as a person, even though that's all she has ever wanted to do. The lack of opportunities and the economics of her situation made her feel as though being a stay-at-home mother was the best thing for her and her children. Deep down though, she knew this isn't what she wanted.
She attempted to redirect the energy and pride she possessed in her work life and channel that to her new identity as a full-time stay-at-home mother. She tried even harder to put on a smile when she woke up to a day of endless activities, clean-up, meltdowns, feelings management, exhaustion, frustration, more clean-up and more exhaustion. Being a stay-at-home mother is so much harder than most people, myself included, will ever realize.
Almost a year had passed of being at home with her children full-time. She had taken on a few freelance jobs here and there but the consulting role was difficult and unnatural to her. It was becoming harder and harder to ignore that fact that she wanted her career back and she missed that version of herself immensely.
With her children moving out of toddlerhood and into preschool age, she stumbled upon a position as a CMO for a fast-growing online insurance companySuretyBonds.com. Ready and willing to get back to work and finally have the chance to lead, she jumped at the opportunity. What happened in the months after left her feeling incredibly grateful that she did end up spending that time at home one-on-one with her children day in and day out. Amber found that she acquired a great deal of applicable skills and just a different approach to dealing with people from being a mother, not just during that time at home, but in her stint being a mom from day one.
1. They have patience.
Just like kids, employees need the chance to learn, absorb and develop into their careers. It's a process. As a manager, it's your job to provide them with the tools and resources to become successful. Thriving in a role doesn't happen overnight. Embrace the process and cultivate people as if you were coaching your own children.
2. They are empathetic.
Every child is different, just like every member of your team is different. Their backgrounds and personalities vary. Each issue needing resolution should be approached with the objective to seek out the full story and consider differences in mind. Mindfulness and empathy are integral in finding the best possible solution and moving forward in a constructive way.
3. They are excellent at time management.
Having kids drastically decreases the amount of time you have in the day while exponentially increasing the demands and obligations you have. When these kinds of odds are stacked against you, moms (and dads alike) realize very quickly that their strategy for managing time must change in order to take it all on. Mothers are masters at making the most out of what they have. Every minute counts and that's the recipe for a results-driven manager.
4. They build trust.
Children inherently seek out the need to feel safe and secure. Infants and toddlers know their mothers. They count on their mothers. They learn to trust them after realizing time after time, they are still there when things get scary or go awry. Managers should also seek to build this trust. A manager-employee relationship based on mutual respect and a shared trust is the foundation for a phenomenal team and work culture.
5. They self-reflect.
Children are tiny sponges. They watch, absorb and imitate what they see. Their behavior, good or bad, is often based on the behaviors of their parents. Amber has experienced a number of a-ha moments in her time as a new mom where her children demonstrated some unfavorable behavior only to quickly realize that it was probably more her fault than it was her children's. For example, her daughter showing a lack of patience or her son requesting things in the form of a demand rather than a politely-worded question. It's the job of the mother, just like it's the job of the manager, to set the example. It's important to understand that precedents are set at the top and influence trickles downward. Being self-aware and making a conscious effort to really think about your own behavior as a manager is almost always going to net positives.
Have any additional reasons why mothers make great managers? I'd love to hear them! Comment below.