Manager or Therapist
How was your day? My husband asks when I come home at night.
Well, I reply, I was somewhat of a therapist today.
In my mom life, even though my kids are little, I hope that when they grow up, they feel that they can come to me for anything. My own mom always said that she would rather I came to her—for good or for bad--than get myself into a difficult situation or be too scared to talk to her about the tough subjects. That is one of the many ways I hope I can follow in her footsteps as a mom myself.
Likewise, in my work life as a sales manager, I hope that I have built a relationship with my direct reports that allows them to feel comfortable coming to me.
As in my mom life, I need my direct reports to confide in me. I need them to trust me, and I need them to know that I have their backs. I hope my kids feel the same. In order for employees to open up to me about their goals professionally--and to ask for help--I need them to relate to me personally but still see me as their boss, not necessarily as their friend.
At work, like at home, I wear many different hats. I delegate, I coach, I strategize, I empathize, I advocate, I listen.
I try as much as possible to provide a neutral perspective and then be able to advocate for my direct reports. I try as much as possible to truly engage, listen, ask the right questions, and not assume judgement. Oftentimes, like in my mom life, I must put down what I am doing and truly focus on my “other kids.” I try to acknowledge their feelings, and whether I agree or not, I must quickly react to help them come up with solutions.
Sometimes in my working-mom, managerial world, I find myself channeling my mom world. I often struggle to differentiate between the two worlds, but sometimes being a compassionate, caring, loving mom, who can also challenge and have tough conversations, helps me to be a better manager. The two roles, jobs, kind of overlap, and I get to hone similar skills for both. I truly think I am a better mom because of my career and a better manager because I am a mom.