A few years ago, we had the assignment of helping a client determine what made good sales managers. One of the things we noticed quickly was that, while underrepresented on the sales teams, women were overrepresented among high-performing sales managers. Remember this is sales where performance of a team can be quantified and subjectivity is removed from the equation. Numbers don’t lie.1
An obvious question we asked women sales managers was, “Why are there more high-performing women in these management roles?” The most common response was that after being a mother, this job is easy.
I was reminded of this experience while reading and watching various accounts of Nancy Pelosi stepping down as House speaker. By any objective measure, she was a success in getting important legislation passed under presidents of both parties.
In her speech she said, “…never would I have thought that someday I would go from homemaker to House speaker.”
Did her experience as a mom of five shape her leadership style? You bet. Perhaps the best example among many was how cool and collected she was on January 6, 2021. While calmly placing calls to bring the riot under control, she, like a Mom, inquired about Mike Pence’s safety.
Reminded me of my Mom. When I advised her of an upcoming business trip I had to the Persian Gulf, she told me to make sure I packed sun block to protect my Irish skin.
I know there are many leadership development programs out there. Indeed, we have one. But I have come to believe there is no better leadership internship than being a mother.
1 Numbers may be a good place to start but a closer look is also necessary. Here a sales team may have a lousy solution, stronger competition, or a weaker team.