Taking parenting skills into the boardroom
The ever popular search for a work life balance has filled column inches in magazines and newspapers for a long time, with commentators often citing the importance of making sure you have time for yourself outside of work.
With increased pressures on time in the office, the juggling act is becoming more and more difficult for everyone, but I think there are lessons to be learned from parents when it comes to finding a way forward.
In my opinion, the skills needed to be a great business person, and leader, are perfected by those who learn to juggle two particular careers effectively – their professional career and their parental career.
The top five transferable skills a parent learns while pursuing a career are:
1. Collaborative approach
Developing people skills is key to being a successful business person. Dealing with children one day and top leaders the next enables parents to develop a unique ability to understand and empathise with a number of different personalities, ensuring collaboration across any team they work with.
As a parent, you are constantly looking to inspire and make your children proud, and this feeling can be transferred through to the work place. You want to inspire your team to strive to be better, while encouraging those above you to see things differently or try something new.
3. Decision Making
Parents have to make certain sacrifices, such as missing an afternoon at work for a parents evening, or missing a music recital for an important meeting. The ability to make difficult decisions and weigh up the pros and cons quickly, particularly when emotions are involved, is an imperative skill for a leader.
It’s a common complaint that people are unable to switch off from work outside of office hours. When you have bigger priories, such as children, your ability to do this and turn your attentions elsewhere increases. This creates an employee who comes in every morning mentally refreshed, as they’ve had that headspace to focus on other things in between times.
5. Navigating tasks effectively
When it is imperative that you leave work at a certain time or only work part time, you become extremely efficient at getting the important things done, and learning to delegate those tasks that are less important.
We should all do more to recognise and utilise these transferable skills. Recent news that women now account for 8.6% of all executive roles on FTSE 100 companies (an all-time high) is great, but there is clearly still a long way to go. There is no reason why more working mothers, or indeed fathers, shouldn’t be taking more of those top spots in the boardroom. Parenting has a positive impact, one we should all be keen to embrace.