This is a call to mothers returning to work (and a reminder to their colleagues, clients, family and friends).  Motherhood is not a burden on the workforce, it is a gift to any organisation.

Lots of conversations with my clients who are returning from maternity leave start with understandable concerns about how their new role of mum will integrate with their former identity at work.  How to negotiate with and reassure line managers? Will colleagues and clients question my commitment? Will my request for flexible working be accepted and if yes, will it be career-limiting?

Women can find themselves re-entering the workplace, with an air of apology or a mandate to re-establish herself and re-prove her worth.  This is a lot of pressure to absorb, especially when holding a host of new responsibilities associated with raising children.

My clients often talk about the pressure to look like and feel like a great performer, a great colleague and a great mum.   This pressure can prompt unhelpful comparisons, impact confidence and sense of self, as well as raise questions about their capacity and resilience.

If doubt is creeping in, please remember to reflect on and celebrate the incredible skills you are bringing back with you from maternity leave.

In 2019 Berlin Cameron commissioned a study on leadership and motherhood called ‘Reframing Motherhood”.  75% of the mothers they spoke with stated that being a parent made them better leaders:

“The skills that you develop as a parent — empathy, multitasking, flexibility, understanding, time management, communication skills, staying calm under pressure, and many more — are all skills needed for being successful in the workplace.”


At one of my recent workshops, we added the following to the list:


  • Sense of Purpose
  • Teamwork
  • Delegation
  • Problem-solving
  • Perspective
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Well-honed negotiation skills (many colleagues and clients require less persuasion than our own toddlers and teenagers)


And there are many more.


There will be days where it feels like there are far too many stakeholders to please and too many tasks to achieve.  It can be challenging to ask for more flexibility or understanding.  But this does not detract from your value; to the contrary being a mother is an asset to your workplace and your leadership.

This article was written by Emma Gill, one of Careering into Motherhood’s Partner Coaches. Emma provides career and confidence coaching for individual clients and works with organisations to help them to create more inclusive, supportive workplaces.  She offers free discovery calls for prospective clients.

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