I spoke on the phone last week with a new potential partner—another coach supporting working moms. We talked business for 20-minutes, discussed potential client engagements and rates, and then, with the most natural conversation flow, she launched into her pro-mom tips for my upcoming LA trip with my 7 and 10-year-old daughters. After I hung up, I took in both the simplicity and the gravity of what just happened.
In a 30-minute professional conversation, I was a focused business owner, advocating for myself AND I was a mom. Both roles were normal. Both roles were accepted. Both celebrated.
This is quite a different experience to what many of my clients are navigating in their corporate roles.
In our coaching sessions, each part of their lives is one that could bring them to a breakthrough on all parts of their lives. So we go there. Diving into their challenges in giving feedback to a nanny or family member provides insights on the issues they’re having in leading their teams. When we flow so freely between the topics, I often hear a sigh of relief.
“It’s so nice to talk about being a mom WHILE I’m at work.”
“I’m constantly compartmentalizing. I feel like I’m living a double life.”
“I feel like I have to hide one of the most important parts of me. And that’s exhausting.”
With my clients, we break through those fears of acknowledging their kids and the importance of being a mother—by experimenting with bringing those things into view in small ways.
If they lead teams, they ask parents on the team about their kids—in front of other team members—normalizing the conversation. Removing all judgment and shame from the topic.
They find that natural way to drop insightful comments about parenting or learnings from it that have impacted or transformed their thinking.
The dialogue is not all about flexibility, the leeway they need from a boss or the time they will be taking away from their jobs. While these are important pieces of the picture, and things to advocate for, my experience is that this is where we focus when we talk about being parents in our career—which is hard to sell as a win-win.
Parenting can be an additive experience to an employee’s life. It can bring them leadership knowledge before they ever become leaders in their career. It brings them joy. Clearly, for me, it brings me life stories to share with those who want to listen.
I begin each one of my corporate workshops or trainings with a story about my kids that’s relevant to the topic. It gets the biggest laugh of the day and it leaves my audience with the vision that it’s possible to be an expert on leadership, run a successful business and be a mom. And that’s exactly the takeaway I want them to have, so that if they so choose, they can do their own version of that, too.