In my corporate days in banking, I was asked to speak at the launch of women’s network. I had two questions: what’s a women’s network and why me. Once the Corporate Communications department explained that purpose of the network was to help promote women's careers within the bank, I replied, “Sounds like a brilliant idea.”
Looking back I am embarrassed to say that my head was so stuck in the sand, I hadn’t appreciated what was happening (or not happening) around me! The answer to the second question took me even more by surprise. “Christine, the reason we’d like you to speak is you’re a female managing director and you have a family. We want to know how you did it?” In my head, I replied, “Did what, what are you talking about?”
Upon reflection, what I discovered is that for the past several decades, every time I had learned a skill in my personal life, I then applied it in my professional life. Likewise, when I learned a new skill in my professional life, I’d then apply it in my personal life. It felt like I had a lot to learn in both environments so this was the quickest way to get up to speed in both areas of life.
As an example I learned about communication and leadership at home. I had to be super clear with my kids about expectations and discipline. My kids never hesitated to call me out if my actions were inconsistent with my words! “Mum, you lied. You said this, but did that.”
What a great leadership lesson to take back into the workplace. Always practice what you preach. If you break this rule, you lose credibility as a leader and your colleagues won't be as direct as your children in letting you know you've lost your way.
At work I learned how to delegate and how to motivate and manage a team. These were crucial skills to be able to apply to my 'home team'. As a new mother I initially got caught up in the thinking that I had to do everything in order to be a good mother.
On the brink of a melt-down, I realised I needed to delegate, let others in to help, and give them opportunities to learn (including the kids themselves). Just like at work, I had to think strategically, "where can I add the most value given my skills, interests and talents and the most important needs of the family". A focused strategic approach is a winning formula for our careers as well as for our personal lives.
Take time to appreciate the full you and and how your work/life combination enables you to have a greater impact on all those around you - colleagues, bosses, clients, friends and family.