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Mothers are often seen as a hindrance to corporate life, when some qualities associated with motherhood, such as Empathy, actually make for better teams and results!
Aarav, fresh out of a top MBA grad school, clad in a suit, trim and smart, walked into our office head held high, with his shoes making a tap-tap that made everyone turn to take a look. It was 6 months since he took over the marketing division as senior sales manager – responsible for hitting targets, giving wonderful sales results and making the topline only look better. He was perhaps hardly 28, going by the looks and charm and the skin tone – everyone could guess. He worked smart (no one prefers hardwork these days), became known for sitting on peoples’ heads and getting things done. Sales did grow in the last quarter like never before and he became famous for his aggression and short term achievements. But as the days passed, people started hating him for his attitude, his aggression and his unachievable targets.
He reported to Anandi, a calm, composed woman in her mid 30s, clad in simple salwar kameez. Everyone’s favourite, she had been around for 10 years and had grown up the ladder slow and steady and got to where she was now, but no one ever seemed to be complaining about her. Aarav could not figure out what was wrong with him nor could he understand what was so impressive about her. Anandi being the soft spoken and nice to talk to boss, Aarav went to her cabin and asked her straight.
“ Anandi – why does everyone seem to be liking you and hating me? What is it that I am getting wrong here?”
Anandi first asked him to sit. “Aarav, there is nothing wrong in you at all. You are a perfect sales man – and that is what people hate. What is missing is the connect. You need to learn the art called empathy which comes with experience.”
Aarav shot back, “But I have the best MBA degree from one of the top universities in the world. Does that not compensate for the work experience?”
Smiling, Anandi explained, “I am talking about the experience called life. Experiencing life goes way beyond just corporate experience or a degree. Look at me – a 35 year old mom to two children, who has seen quite a few ups and downs and have had days where we had to struggle for help to take care of children or to pay electricity bills or had to choose between an important client meeting and hospital checkups. But all of these have taught me one thing – life’s purpose is not work. Work’s purpose is to help us live happily. These days it’s hard for people to understand the difference between the two. They slog all day, put in 12-13 hours of work and hit the bed only to wake up and come back to work. This is not how it is meant to be. Weekends are not so that you could sleep it through or go partying. There are so many things apart from work which actually teach you what life is. I don’t intend to tell you that you should stop working and go out there and do social service. All I am saying is, we need to see people as people and respect them for what they do, give some leeway for human errors and show some empathy. That is all they need. If you start doing this, your short term achievement will soon turn into long term relationships and you will move from being best sales man to the best manager. You are not supposed to look at your colleague as an employee number. Look at him as a person with flesh and blood – just like you, and things will soon fall in place.”
Aarav had a lot to ponder over and thanked her and walked away quietly. Something that his MBA or his best in class education could not teach him in a few years, Anandi seemed to have triggered the untaught.
Anandi was awarded Best Employee of the Year, a third in her career and Aarav started making a few friends, a baby step in his long career that lay ahead.
This short story is meant to emphasise how beautifully a mother can make use of her experience and how wonderful a boss she can be to those at the workplace. Having a career is vital for a woman for she is already equipped with all skills that make a good boss, an empathetic colleague and a perfect team player. To all women out there – if you are a mother, you are only more qualified to be there in corporate life, your presence adds value to you and to people around you. You light up the place around you just like a candle does – shining bright and spreading light.
Top image via Pexels.