Washing diapers or haggling with a preteen about curfews may not be glamorous, but being a domestic deity has tangible career benefits.
The Career Benefits Of Parenting
At first glance it's difficult to imagine how being chief cook and bottle washer (not to mention diaper-changer) at home can actually help you kill presentations or manage creative teams back at the office. Studies show otherwise.
People skills are the number two factor impacting organizations, after technology, according to the 2012 IBM Global CEO study
, which interviewed more than 1,709 leaders. Of all the external forces that could impact their organizations over the next three to five years, 69% of the CEOs see people skills change as most critical. And many of those skills are also practiced in the home.
Carrying over soft skills can give you a leg up when it comes to dealing with employees. Anything from quick thinking to negotiation skills can be learned in the home and taken back to the workplace, say executives.
We asked travel, tech, beauty, and finance industry executives what they learned about raising children, maintaining a household, and living an active life outside of the office and how they’ve transferred those people skills to benefit their leadership style. Here’s what they said.
1. Getting good at fast-paced survival mode.
“At home, there is very little time for debate when faced with an issue--you simply make a decision and go,” says Nabil Moubayed, a director of operations at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and father of two in Chicago. At work, especially in a customer-focused hospitality role, Moubayed has learned that game-time decisions can guarantee a happy customer. “Once a new issue surfaces [in the office] deal with it immediately or else it only gets worse.”
2. Practicing tough negotiating.
Dealing with her two teenaged sons has sharpened Kate Logan’s negotiating skills, which is key in the bankruptcy restructuring business she founded in Upper Montclair, NJ. “As my kids have gotten older and have acquired bargaining skills of their own, my negotiating skills have become even sharper,” she says. Negotiating restructuring terms on behalf of clients actually stemmed from practicing her skills in more mundane areas like borrowing the car or pushing curfew times.
3. Taking advantage of market testing.
Many parents have Millennials in their backyard, including Peter Vescuso, executive vice president at Black Duck Software, who takes advantage of his sons’ opinions when making decisions for the Burlington, Mass.-based software company. “I talk to them about the social media they use, how they communicate with their peers, how they think about corporations and interacting with them. I’ll even test out words or phrases with them to see what works and what doesn’t.”
4. Using downtime to spur inspiration.
A 24/7 work schedule can squash innovation. But spending your free time outside of the office doing things you love (whether with kids or on a night off by yourself) can help you come up with new ideas when back at work, says Greg Sebasky, chairman of Philips North America in Andover, Mass. “Even something as simple as an independent film can provide new ideas, subject matter, and ways of living that I may not experience otherwise,” says Sebasky. “Scripts, characters, and directorial vision help me see the world with others’ eyes.”
5. Having no-strings-attached fun.
Jeff Tangney, chief executive at Doximity, a networking tool of physicians, has two kids under the age of 3, which means having fun is a necessary way to prevent meltdowns. At work, letting his 40-person team cut loose a bit has helped boost morale, too. “Playhouses were such a hit at home, that we put a few in here at work--cheaper than cubicles and a lot more fun,” he says about the San Mateo, Calif.-based office. Taking time away from workplace thinking is valuable and can have a positive effect on your work. Anything from air hockey to ping-pong can help executives rejuvenate a tired staff.
6. Knowing when to speak up.
Learning when to speak up for your beliefs at home can help you be confidently vocal in the workplace as well, says Brandi Halls, a brand communications director at cosmetics maker Lush who comes from a tight-knit extended family. “My home life has always been full of people with big opinions and strong beliefs…that certainly carries over,” she says. Applying these kinds of soft skills at home makes it easier when applying these principles at work, she says. “It has effortlessly found its way into my management practices.”