Career Woman

Leadership + motherhood: how to have the best of both worlds

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For anyone in business, one of the biggest career achievements would have to be landing the top job: a CEO role. So naturally, when that opportunity was presented to me, I took it with both hands – even if it meant that I had to move from the corporate world I was used to, into a dynamic and fast-paced start up.

But this also presented me a challenge. You see, I’m also the mother of a 15-month-old boy, and have another baby on the way in December. So… how on earth was I going to be able to handle everything on my plate?

Being a CEO requires considerable planning and leading, and being present is very important, especially in a small company. The same goes for motherhood – and although I’d made the decision when taking on the role that I would return to work straight after I have my second child, I still need to be present for my children.

Needless to say, I was a little worried. I constantly questioned myself: is it really possible for me to keep doing a great job at work and be the type of mother I want to be at the same time? The answer, as I soon discovered, is absolutely.

It’s not a question of sacrifice, but a question of balance. Here are some of the things I’ve incorporated into my life to balance my leadership role in an SME with motherhood.

I write down the one thing I need to achieve in the day and try do it really well

I try not to lose sight of the big picture. I picture myself in the monthly board meeting and what I will tell them I achieved for the month. They don’t want to know about all the small things, just the one or two things I did that month that moved the dial, or made an impact. This keeps me focused.

I keep a list and record everything

I keep a very lengthy to-do list. If it’s not written down, I won’t remember to do it. I also take down voice memos and record meetings, so that if I need to I can always go back later to review. There are great online meeting transcription services available, which can be a lifesaver when you need to go back over meeting details.

I make sure the people in my team understand my standards

I think it is important for my team to be on the same wavelength as me, in terms of understanding the way I work, and living up to my standards of efficiency and attention to detail. I hold them to this standard; in fact, we hire them for it.

I seek out a great support network

I try to surround myself with great people – one of the things I love about working in small business is working with others who are also running their own businesses. Most of my contractors seem to also be mums who are juggling the same things I am. I also have a great support network in my family, nanny, husband, and friends. I manage them like I manage my team (though don’t tell them that).

I treat all appointments the same – work or personal

My work and personal appointments all get scheduled in my diary. My husband gets calendar invites to events. So does the nanny. I don’t divide my week days into “work days” and “home days” – if I need to leave work to go to a personal appointments, it’s all just part of my day.

I schedule ‘me time’

I try to turn the phone off at an assigned time of the day. I turn mine off between 5.30-7.30pm. That is dinner and bath time (and time to talk to my husband). I am clear with my work team about when I will and won’t respond to phone calls and emails. I try to remind myself that it is okay to say no – people don’t remember in the long run and in fact, they probably respect me for it. It’s liberating!

I’ve found that with the right approach and the right planning, it is possible to have the best of both worlds. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely possible, extremely fulfilling, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

About Mikki Silverman

Mikki Silverman is CEO of DiffuzeHR a company that is transforming the way SMEs approach HR by giving them access to an easy-to-use cloud-based software that takes the pain out of managing their HR administration. DiffuzeHR helps SMEs by allowing them to minimise risks, reduce legal fees, decrease time spent on admin, attract and retain staff and leverage best-practice HR expertise in a way that is simple, easy and efficient.

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