"If you want something done, ask a busy person."
Benjamin Franklin may not have been talking about working moms, but his maxim bears out in studies that show a big boost in effectiveness for women who are parents and also employed.
Despite today's rosy, egalitarian views of shared parenting responsibilities, in practice, women still shoulder the lion's share of household duties. Rather than driving mothers out of the workplace, this double duty has had some surprising effects: Women who parent are excelling in new ways on the job.
When we estimate the dollar value of a mom's contribution to the family, the number is astronomical. As the majority of women have children, is it possible that motherhood is honing women's managerial skills, making them more effective leaders? You bet. Here's how:
Who can figure out how to get the kids fed, bathed, and dressed while ensuring they're safe and happy — all in the space of a few hours? Mom can! When a little one depends on you for their every need, coordination and thinking ahead are essential. Juggling competing interests and multiple tasks provide working moms with a crash course in bundling tasks and optimizing every minute.
The high demands of parental responsibilities have shown moms that they simply do not have time to do everything perfectly. They need to figure out what's most important. Tomes of business articles have been written on the art of reconciling the small stuff with big-picture priorities.
For all their best laid plans, working mothers are also highly adaptable. Raising a family is a 24/7 endeavor with constantly moving targets. When soccer practice runs long or your second-grader announces they need 40 cupcakes for class today (right as you pull into the school parking lot), Mom'
Empathy is practically a reflex for moms. Supporting the emotional growth and development of a child isn't unlike encouraging a team to succeed while holding them accountable when they don't.
We've all heard the clichè about the stubborn guy who refuses to stop and ask for directions. There's a reason that story doesn't include a working mom. While men may be culturally programmed to view accepting limitations as a sign of weakness, working moms understand that it's an absolute strength for the good of the team.
Many moms realize they cannot be in two places at once, and embrace the idea their work/life balance is rooted in effectively divvying out responsibilities.
There's a simple reality: Raising a human is incredibly challenging. Oftentimes stressful. But deeply rewarding.
Actress, writer, producer and mom Tina Fey nails it: "I think every working mom probably feels the same thing: You go through big chunks of time where you're just thinking, 'This is impossible — oh, this is impossible.' And then you just keep going and keep going, and you sort of do the impossible."
And isn't a woman who does the impossible someone any employer would be happy to have?