11 Women: “Why Being A Mother Makes Me A Better Leader”

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From gaining patience to becoming more ambitious, women reveal how motherhood helped them become better leaders.

Does being a mother enhance your leadership skills? We asked 11 women why being a mom makes them better leaders. Here’s what they said:

Tess Sloane, senior recruiter, lululemon athletica, with her sons

“Being a mother I have to be intentional with my time. So work, meetings, sweat and key decisions need to be made during business hours so I can be fully present for my kids when I get home.

“My sons have taught me that no two people are the same. Each person on my team has individual strengths, values and passions, so in order to lead I need to learn how to access and expand each person’s unique contribution – my boys are a daily reminder of this.

“The most impactful thing my children have taught me in business is to keep things in perspective. Career is one part of someone’s whole beautiful life. I am a big believer in creating the conditions for people to show up as their whole selves to work and I see how it impacts the business and their personal fulfillment. My sons enable me to see joy in the simple things and never take myself too seriously.”

Tess Sloane, Senior Recruiter, lululemon athletica

Yasmine Mukahal, Talent Acquisition Site Lead, Dell

“Being a mother is the most rewarding job I have! It’s not only made me a stronger woman but more ambitious. I am working one hundred times harder to be able to provide for my daughter and set an example for her. Wearing both the ‘mom’ and ‘professional’ hat has definitely helped me stay grounded, focused, and more efficient!”

Yasmine Mukahal, Talent Acquisition Site Lead, Dell

Patricia Tewfik, Managing Director, Henriquez Partners Architects

“As a mommy of three, I consider myself an ‘adaptive leader’. All three of my children are driven by different things. As a mom, I try to support their growth, motivation and engagement with the world — by figuring out what gets them up in the morning. Doing this at home is somewhat expected… doing this in the workplace is magical.”

Patricia Tewfik, Managing Director, Henriquez Partners Architects

“Having children means a person is constantly learning and developing skills; parents just choose how to apply them.”

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Danielle Marchant, Recruiting Manager, Recruiting Social, with daughter

“Being a mother of three girls, I’m being pulled in many directions at once (no surprise), and as a result, I’ve learned patience, humility, and some killer multitasking skills. This translates in managing my team; how they succeed, grow, and become better individuals professionally and personally.”

-Danielle Marchant, Recruiting Manager, Recruiting Social

“Motherhood is the most challenging job in the world. I wish I had some perspective on that when I was complaining in my mid-20’s about how ‘busy’ I was. #cringe!

“1. The PERSPECTIVE I have attained as a mother of two young children has helped me tremendously in the workplace. I do not get nearly as flustered or worried about ‘first world problems’ as I used to. I am much calmer and have a greater ability to focus and work efficiently. No problem is insurmountable.

“2. ‘PATIENCE is a virtue,’ my mother would often tell me as a child. And now, as a mother it is something I exercise daily. I have taken to calmly inhaling (for the most part!) when my three year old son throws a tantrum as I am running late for work. It definitely has filtered into my work life. I used to be very type A and lose patience for those that couldn’t keep up but now I understand everyone is motivated differently and works at a different pace, my children included!

“3. Finally, being a mother has instilled in me a deep sense of EMPATHY. I believe I always have had this in me but it grew significantly over the last five years. I absolutely can understand when my staff is going through a challenge, personally or professionally. I try to listen and offer support – not attempt to ‘fix it’. I do the same for my children. I inherently believe it’s important for children to struggle as that is where strength and resiliency is born.”

Jennifer Schaeffers, Executive Director, CKNW Orphans’ Fund

Annette Chan, Recruitment Consultant, Management Group. Fraser Health

“Remaining present with my children is a great practice in patience and openness; through it, I learn more about their gifts every day, in tidbits of wisdom or insight. This attitude at work puts me in a better place to understand and receive the gifts others have to offer, helps build relationships and solidifies the trust of my clients and colleagues, which is so essential to being effective in my HR practice.”

Annette Chan, Recruitment Consultant, Fraser Health

Donna, Community Manager, SportChek

“Being a mother has helped me to stay current and relevant in the workplace in many ways. I have typically managed the 16 to 25 year-old age group over the years; I get older but my teams stay in this category!

“I am much more patient and relatable as a manager because I spend time with my children and get involved in their lives to ensure they learn what they need to. This means I learn as well; their ‘language’, I master their technologies, listen to their music (as well as share my own) and also gain an understanding of how they view the world. I also teach them about life every day (more philosophically). In short, having children means a person is constantly learning and developing skills; parents just choose how to apply them. Mine seem to work well at home as well as my professional environment.”

Donna Murray, Community Manager, Sport Chek

Debbie Bortolussi and Angela Bortolussi

“There are so many advantages to being a mother and a leader in a work environment. A mother multi-tasks all day long and, to my knowledge, has the only career that entails being a nurse, doctor, counsellor, caregiver, cook and fashionista all at the same time.

“Being a leader requires stamina, tenacity, patience and compassion for others. As a mother you have these skills embedded in your DNA. I personally believe I would be a workaholic if it weren’t for being a mother, as I truly love what I do. However, lucky for me my beautiful children gave me a purpose to get home and create a life and home that we all could enjoy. Efficiency was the key to my success and being organized and surrounding yourself at work with the most talented people you could hire and trust. Never hire yourself. As a leader at home, don’t think you can do it all, hire talent for your home too – the best housekeeper you can find. As a mother when you get home, the time is for your family. The distinct difference between a job and your mum job is that I never want to be FIRED by my children for being their mum. I will always be there.”

Debbie Bortolussi, President, PHR Resources Ltd.

“Each person on my team has individual strengths, values and passions, so in order to lead I need to learn how to access and expand each person’s unique contribution.”

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Barb Agostini, Managing Partner, Recruiting Social, with sons

“Being a mother has made me better in so many aspects as a professional. I’m more agile and efficient; better able to manage my time and priorities. As a mom, my life is full so I am far more focused and ‘present’ in whatever I am doing at that moment. And, having children made me stronger and kinder.”

-Barb Agostini, Managing Partner, Recruiting Social

Brenda Rigney, Vice President, PINK OPS Nurse Next Door

“Being a mother makes me want to be a better person. I live my best self every day. I care about my health, balancing ‘working hard’ with fulfilling a life that will inspire my daughters.”

Brenda Rigney, Vice President, PINK OPS, Nurse Next Door

Kathleen Prior Louis, Head of Talent, Steelhouse, with children

“Being a mother has definitely taught me patience – in spades, which actually helps when dealing with challenging or stressful situations. Motherhood has opened me up in terms of compassion and thought capacity in a variety of ways which does help with different business experiences and amplitude for leadership. I’ve become a better teacher, simply just through practice. Balancing motherhood with a full-time career has also upped my game in terms of stamina and project management skills. Earlier in my career something that seemed more daunting might look easy now. This comes through personal growth and also growing as a mother. Appreciation for time is more amplified which makes time management and decision making have a different lens. I sometimes feel like a super-human in-training! I have massive respect for all women – especially woman that strive to be wonderful mothers and leaders.”

Kathleen Prior Louis, Head Of Talent, Steelhouse

Lisa Martin, Founder, Lisa Martin International | Leadership Development

“Being a mom enabled me to become more patient and to understand that I really don’t have a full control over anything other than myself and my reactions. When you have a child your whole idea about controlling your schedule goes out the door. That notion of having to surrender to the flow is a great learning lesson.

“The other thing about parenting is the incredible opening of your heart that happens when you have a child. There’s a great quote that says when you decide to have a child, you’ve made a decision to let your heart go walking out of your body for the rest of your life. That ability to open yourself up is a wonderful tool that’s helped me become more vulnerable as a leader. Before I had children, I think I was a lot more closed and I had a lot more walls up and less patience with people and all of that changed when I became a parent.”

Lisa Martin, Founder, Lisa Martin International


About the author

Lily Weiner is Content Coordinator at Recruiting Social. Connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter @lilyweiner.

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