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Lead like a mother - Be courageous, empathetic and strong!

I try to avoid playing superhero movies in my house. As a mother, I've always been wary of the message that these stories could send to a four-year-old's mind. It's easy for young kids to build this idea that superpowers are needed to take on big challenges. That they need to fight and be violent to overcome difficult times. And I tend to believe that to promote positive change we need to be fearless, sometimes even breaking the rules, but not violent, much less to have “superpowers”.


What I truly believe is that leadership is a way to promote those big changes superheroes are always looking for. Changes that can start simple, in a small community or in the team we work with, and then grow, and positively impact those around us. I learned that being a person who helps others to develop and evolve is a superpower that every mom has, and it can help people achieve incredible goals.

Empathy is needed


Raising my kids has proven to me that the competencies I need to guide them as they grow are the skills any leader would benefit from. Jacinda Arden, mother and former New Zealand's Prime Minister, once said: "Leadership is not about necessarily being the loudest in the room, but instead being the bridge, or the thing that is missing in the discussion and trying to build a consensus from there."


As a mom I try hard to build bridges every day in my house to achieve harmony between the people in my family (Jacinda is an inspiration to me). And I learned that empathy needs to be at the core of what I do. How can I help my children deal with their emotions without connecting with them? How is it possible to lead others without really understanding them?

As a leader in my organization, I know that sometimes the most important action of my day is connecting with someone who is going through a bad phase, or spending time exploring needs and concerns that my colleagues might have.

You are going to fail


I also learned that to be a good leader I need to be ok with my failures, and accept that I don't have control over everything that happens around me.


When I became a mother I quickly learned that trying to control what is uncontrollable is a waste of time. You try, sometimes you achieve success, and most of the times you fail.


At Thoughtworks we always have space to learn from our failures and we need to take advantage of that to be kind to the failures of others too. This will make us more adaptable to the constant changes, and make us better leaders and colleagues.

It's okay to be angry if you use it in a good way!


One thing no one ever mentioned to me (and I only found out after I yelled at a one-year old boy because he wouldn't go to sleep) is that motherhood will put caregivers face-to-face with the most difficult emotion to deal with: anger. And just because I've been open to question my beliefs and understand my triggers, I've also been able to enter a new world where my anger has become energy, respect, patience and kindness.


And that can fuel any leader who wants to inspire others. To be okay with your anger and not avoid feeling it. To use it to promote the changes you are looking for.

Find a place that can help you grow


An important aspect when reconciling your personal and professional life is finding the ideal place that allows you to be both, without necessarily having to choose. At Thoughtworks I have the flexibility to be with my children and at the same time act as a leader in my field. I have the right spaces, tools and support to do it, so I never felt tied down or dragged down in the process.


Spaces for continuous growth, remote work, schedule flexibility, benefits for personal time, are important aspects and have given me strength to play both roles: Being a mother and being a team leader.

Stand out and inspire others


Yes, I am a mother, and today I am the best leader I could be. I hope that in my leadership journey at Thoughtworks and beyond, I can inspire other mothers to rise up and continue to build bridges across the world, wherever they may be.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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