We at momiculture are so excited to feature a series of guest bloggers this year. These amazing individuals have all navigated their own way through life and career to find their own definitions of success. We want to share their stories with you as a way to inspire, normalize and grow. This month, our guest blogger is Anne Bailey, a Group Vice President in the Healthcare sector.
A kick-ass, motivated, ambitious woman is coming back to my team this week from maternity leave with her first baby. Oh, I feel for her. Potentially the hardest week of any working mom’s life. I asked her to please give herself some grace. Consider her brain and body at 70% and embrace it for a while. 70% is still pretty darn good. I am what you might consider a more, ahem, experienced Mom. Getting older is not okay for a woman in the workforce, so I mostly ignore it. But my babies are 18 and 15 so I’ll admit I’ve got some experience.
I worked for seven years “part-time” at a consulting firm (the “part time” deserves those quotes since it was 50 hours a week, minimum) and then full time for the past twelve years. I’m a group vice president at a large healthcare company and have the pleasure of having lots of women leaders around me and on my team. Over this time, I’ve developed a set of top five pieces of advice I give out most frequently and I wanted to share them with you.
1) Get the Right Boss – starting with, by far, the most controversial advice. How do you pick a boss? Here’s what I know: what I work on is not the most important thing to me. For me, most problems are interesting. However, having the person you work for extend trust, believe that you’re trying your hardest, lean in and invest in you, know you deeply – that is priceless. Without that trust in place, it is very hard to be fulfilled in a job. And therefore, hard to do well. I get it, “picking” a boss is hard and then that person can leave! But it makes all the difference and is worth deeply considering before you stay in a role too long or join a team without considering your connection to your new leader.
2) Prioritize Ruthlessly – a) does this HAVE to be done?, b) does this have to be done by ME?, c) if so, at WHAT LEVEL must it be done? Can I say “about $20M”? Or must the answer be to ten decimals?
3) Choose Busy vs. Stressed – your family and your team feels it when you’re stressed out. Faced with a deadline? Practice taking the emotion out. Say, “I sure am busy. Great week to get takeout. Now what else can I do to make it easier on me and my team?” Choose the emotion of busy and energized versus spiraling stress. This one takes a lot of practice but is worth it.
4) Grade Yourself Over a Period of Time – you are not going to get any day exactly right. There is no “work/life balance” that exists on any given day. I put a reminder on my calendar for every three weeks to “Consider your balance” (I have a ton of these type of reminders, I’m sure my assistant thinks I’m nuts). For me, three weeks is the right unit of time to consider whether I’ve been focused on the most important work, been present for my family, exercised, connected with friends. If it’s off, I look at the upcoming three weeks and make adjustments.
5) Give Yourself a Break (and Know When to Double Down) – life is wild! If you have young kids, it is HARD. This is a universal truth. It’s not easy for any working Mom. Give yourself a break! Take on a reasonable amount of work and do it well. Articulate your needs clearly to your boss and have boundaries. A good one is, “I don’t take calls or answer emails from 5:30-7:30pm” (or whatever your boundaries are; have them and say them). Careers are long and life changes. As the Mom of older kids, I find myself asking for more work and more responsibility. When you get there – say it! Let people know you’re ready.
I’ll finish by saying that you’ve got this. You have a community around you who cares about you being successful at home and at work. And give yourself some grace, please.
Thank you, Anne!