Parenting is one of the most conflicting experiences in an individual’s lifetime; it intensifies the way we experience love and empathy, and tests our patience and endurance. While corporate policies have coined terms like ‘work-life balance’ and ‘working parents,’ on a personal level parents (and their colleagues) know how intertwined one’s family life and approach to their work can be.
With over 80% of the 81.4 million US families having at least one employed parent, there is no denying that parenting is a key variable in the dynamic of the country’s labor. Professional growth and caring for children cannot realistically be considered as separate and distinct topics; both are essential components of managing career and talent.
As leaders, managers, peers and entrepreneurial partners, we all must recognize the interconnectedness of family and ‘out-of-the-home’ work. This month, we’ve outlined four key ways in which parenting supports leadership and professional growth, which we can leverage:
There’s something to be said about how effective one can be be at prioritizing when faced with unrealistic timelines and conflicting demands. Most parents get an unparalleled amount of hands-on practice in managing a stream of urgent obligations on a daily basis. While on the surface, it may appear that people with a lot of responsibility outside the office would be distracted, in reality most of them are highly organized as it is the only way to juggle a multifaceted life.
After the birth of my daughters, I’ve noticed how much more active and driven I’ve become in supporting causes I think are important for our society. While working with our clients and peers, we see how the individual parenting experiences bring social consciousness to the front and center for business leaders and entrepreneurs. For example, parents have an added incentive to ensure that our world is more inclusive and that our environment is better cared for for many generations to come.
For those who share my appreciation of James McGregor Buns’ concept of Transformational Leadership, this section will come at no surprise. In his works, Mr. Burns advocated for effective leadership through empowerment of the followers, increasing their autonomy and encouraging independent growth. Remembering that a role of a leader is that of support, one that enables employees to achieve their best selves, it is easy to see the correlation between goals of business leaders and parents’ aspirations in raising their children.
Raising children comes with a (sometimes overwhelming) amount of self doubt, self examination and putting things in perspective. Like any experience of personal growth, this is a challenge, but one worth employing in a professional setting. Is it safe to assume we all know someone who could benefit from a dose of humility?
Similarly to all of the above, most skills essential to success in business leadership are equally essential to good parenting. No family or organization is perfect, yet recognizing and prioritizing inclusive cultures, respect, communication, kindness and focus on the common goal of a better future is key to success in both areas.
In conclusion, there’s no need to ‘balance’ work and life, instead, let’s embrace the ways in which they can be supportive of each other.