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No. 531, October 24, 2005

When a mummy becomes the boss

Management literature is full of metaphors from sports and martial arts. In a new book on management economic journalist Ann Crittenden uses mothering as a metaphor for leadership. If You’ve Raised Kids, You Can Manage Anything is the provocative title of her book.

The book builds on interviews with American top level women managers: Managing Directors, politicians, ambassadors, governors, university directors, international peace negotiators and others. These women had a background as stay-at-home mums for many years – previous governor of Texas Ann Richards stayed at home for 20 years! They all feel that their role as an active and present mother of many children was their most important leadership training, the source of their success.

Of course, there are many ways to learn leadership but the role of the active stay-at-home parent is the most forgotten one, according to Ann Crittenden.

These women mention the learned leadership qualities to be: multitasking, managing difficult people, self control, listening, emotional intelligence, win-win negotiating, ethics and integrity. The book has an abundance of examples. They are the same qualities leadership trainings attempt to teach. Also leaders with a genuine parental background often have more understanding for the customer than those with merely work place experience. Finally these leaders take long range issues of the future more seriously.

The role of a Managing Director is very similar to the role of a stay-at-home parent with many children. Many talents are needed and the most important of them is the ability to motivate others. A mother is also, in the deepest sense, the original mentor, coach and good leader, according to Ann Crittenden.

Here are four possible conclusions from this highly readable book:

  • There is a great possibility to learn and grow for parents choosing to be active and conscious parents.

  • A family is a more complete metaphor for the leadership of today than metaphors from sports and martial arts.

  • There is a big hidden leadership potential among stay-at-home parents. Mothers returning to work life after years at home with many kids are often more effective than others. They have years of mental training in using their time effectively.

  • The discussion of equality between men and women take on a whole new dimension through Ann Crittenden’s book. When staying at home with children is seen as a plus in your resume everything changes.

Mothers in top management positions have already improved leadership in the US. They are also more likely to employ other stay-at-home parents. When mummy becomes the boss, the world becomes a better place, says Ann Crittenden.

Creative regards! Jonas Himmelstrand

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© 2005 Strategies to Learn & Grow

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