Over the many years since Leaders in Heels began, we have worked with hundreds of contributors, watched our six-figure community prosper and collaborated with so many talented experts. These experiences have taught us many things, including how different people hone their productivity. We’ve pooled some of this knowledge, including some hidden gems from super busy women, to create this guide for improving productivity.Continue reading →
working women having it all
When thinking about hiring mums, I often reflect on years ago when I used to manage recruitment for a large online business. Whenever I’d get an application from an entrepreneur I’d immediately turn them down because I thought their skills wouldn’t be a good fit, they didn’t fit the brief and they wouldn’t want to work for someone else for too long.
Wrong. In fact, my mantra now is “Always hire the entrepreneurs!”. The skills, resilience and work ethic needed to be an entrepreneur means there’s a high chance they’ll be successful anywhere.
Now my new hiring tip is mums. Why? Well, let’s look at the skills you want in an employee.
If you’re anything like me, chances are you get way more done on the last day before you head off on a holiday because you know exactly what you need to get done before you go and you have a hard deadline. This is how mums approach Every. Single. Day. They just don’t have time to muck around.
One thing you can be sure of in business that things will get hard on a regular basis. You want employees who can rise above the stress and keep a clear head. Being a mum dramatically changed my definition of stressful. Give me a tough day at work over dealing with a screaming, wriggling child whose nappy hasn’t been able to contain a truly astounding amount of explosive poo on less than four hours sleep over the past three days combined. Hiring mums cannot builds resilience in your team.
Things don’t always go to plan and the ability to be flexible and find a way around problems rather than grinding to a halt at the first sign of difficulty is a crucial skill. This pretty much describes every day of my life since becoming a mum. I feel like Macgyver half the time, using whatever is at hand to get the job done and changing plans at the last second to accommodate my daughter Izzy is the norm.
In any team you need people with empathy, especially in your leaders. Empathy is the grease that keeps a team working well together, and customers happy. Needing to learn how to provide for a small human who can’t talk is a great lesson in empathy. And when they can talk, they’re still learning to control their emotions and feelings which can challenge and grow those empathy muscles in a big way.
Hiring mums is great for your leadership team
In my experience, mums tend to make strong leaders. Just like each child is different, with different needs and wants, the same is true of adults too and parents seem to intuitively get this with those they manage. It’s also pretty hard to get kids to do anything you want and you quickly develop mastery of creating a compelling vision and getting everyone on the same bus to get there as a team.
This is probably the most important one for me. Having Izzy quickly realigned what’s actually important in my life. So many things I used to feel were important suddenly didn’t feel all that important anymore. This has translated directly into business for me, I find it much easier to let things go and find myself asking questions like “is this the best for the business, or am I doing it for me?”. This is a trait I really look for in my team – the ability to check your ego at the door.
About Libby Babet
Libby is co-founder of upcoming immersive business and wellness retreat for women hosted, Nurture Her, hosted 18-22 October in Fiji, which has attracted fantastic speakers including Julie Bishop. A wellness guru who has appeared as a trainer on The Biggest Loser: Transformed, Libby also owns several fitness studios and a healthy snack business with two brands, Chief Bar and Beauty Food.
I have two options, both fantastic: I can attend a business conference dedicated to empowering women in advertising… or my daughter’s school presentation. It’s an age-old case of conflicting work and family events.
At first glance, it was a no-brainer. I would go to my daughter’s performance. But then I started researching the conference. It was dedicated to women in leadership and covered topics I’m incredibly passionate about. I could listen to others who have been in my shoes, discuss how to rise through the ranks, and learn more about supporting diversity both in advertising and the world around me. It looked awesome.
Suddenly, the choice felt impossible. I could spend time learning from other empowered women in my industry and advancing my career, or I could choose to celebrate my daughter and support her on her own journey to becoming a strong woman. Both were important celebrations of women, but ultimately, I still had to decide between doing something for my career or being there for my family. While it was important for me to celebrate women in my industry, I had the feeling that in my daughter’s eyes, if one person needed to be at her performance, it was me.
I’m not alone in this struggle. Working parents have been trying to balance professional and personal demands for decades. Do you choose to stay late and miss family dinner? Do you get to the office early and miss doing morning drop-off? Or do you stretch your timeline at work?
Instead of letting these decisions eat away at us, we should allow them to empower us. After all, just having, and owning, the ability to make these decisions is empowering in itself. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when you have to weigh your personal versus professional priorities:
Go with your gut when choosing between work and family events
You usually know the right answer. What feels right is usually just that. But if your gut isn’t talking, take a beat. Find a quiet space and think. What will make you happiest and most fulfilled? Go with that one. And if that means family comes first, so be it. Or if you choose to stay for a presentation with your team, so be that, too. As long as your co-workers feel supported and encouraged and your family members know that they are number one, it will all pan out.
While you can’t be in two places at once, your support can. In fact, your resourcefulness is probably one of the reasons you are where you are today. Use technology to help you be present when you can’t be. Or tap into the best resource of all: your support group. Work or family, there are people with whom you share a mutual trust and respect. Who better to ask for help?
It’s all too easy to tell yourself that having to choose between work and family in the first place means you’re failing. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to shine in both places — just in different ways. And sometimes, at different times.
Don’t waste time feeling guilty
Make your decision and stick with it. Feeling guilty will only prevent you from benefiting from the decision you laboured so hard over. Don’t spoil it. You make the choice to be somewhere, and you make the choice to enjoy it.
If you choose work, you’re not saying work is more important than family. If you choose your family, it doesn’t mean your career suddenly doesn’t matter. Those are extreme labels people might like to impose on you, but it’s more complicated than that. You’ll have the opportunity to make another choice in another situation, and if you find some semblance of balance in your choices, you’ll find balance overall.
Separate and conquer conflicting work and family events
Wherever you choose to be, be there 100%. Dedicate work hours to work and family hours to family. For example, let’s say you chose to go to your kid’s basketball game and leave work two hours early. So what? Deadlines are met, and the team knows you’ll be there to support them the very next day. And if you have to be absent at home one night, your family will rest easy knowing that the time you spend at home is dedicated to them.
Carve out time just for you
Ah, that impossible task of finding me time. The reality is, if you don’t invest in self-care, these decisions will be way harder than they need to be. Rather than approaching them with a calm, clear mind, your fears may take the lead, making it difficult to stay on task or be totally present with your family.
Just remember, your decision doesn’t mean one aspect of life is more important than the other. Make sure your family knows they always come out on top. They may lose a few battles, but they win the war. Meanwhile, you may find that these decisions make you a stronger leader at work by building empathy and time-management skills. If you can successfully balance family and work life, at least most of the time, you’re probably a much better leader, personally and professionally, than you’re giving yourself credit for.
So back to the original dilemma: You’ve got two options, both centred on empowering and supporting the women in your world. Which one do you choose?
About the author
Lexi Harper, associate creative director at RAPP, embraces her passion for fusing ultimate precision, relevant tonality and an intimately understood target to craft break-through creative and lasting, memorable experiences.
Are you looking for ways to maximise the hours in your day using tips for productivity? Trust me, as a busy mum of two, General Manager of a global beauty brand, strategic marketing consultant, household manager and studying my Master of Business (Marketing) – I understand the challenges that women face when it comes to the balancing act of life.Continue reading →
Working women are some of the busiest women on earth. More women are providing for the family, both in the office and at home, and sometimes, those commitments mean that focusing on your wellness slips down the list of priorities. But in order to juggle life’s various challenges, your health is integral, because if we don’t have our health, we don’t have anything.
Eat for energy and stamina
The best place to start your journey to wellness is by assessing your diet. It’s easy to succumb to the temptations of your co-workers treats (we’ve all been there), but if you have a sedentary job, it’s important to consider what you eat and how easily your body will be able to digest it. Jobs that require you to sit for long periods of time slow your metabolism, so packing yourself a healthy, balanced lunch is key to avoid binge eating Tim Tams in the afternoon.
The key to feeling satisfied at work is to make sure you’re getting enough of the three main food groups: carbohydrates, fats and protein, which function together to ensure that you feel full, satisfied and energised.
For example, a large salad for lunch with salmon or chicken and lots of colourful veggies and a bit of healthy fat, such as an avocado, contains all three key food groups to keep you going. Dress it with olive oil, balsamic vinegar or lemon.
To switch it around, incorporate the salad into a wholemeal bread wrap. If a salad bores you, how about some rice paper rolls, sushi, or a small bowl of stir fried meat and veggies? If you’re craving something a bit warmer for the winter season, a chicken and vegetable soup is always filling and nutritious.
It’s wise to break up the three main meals with regular snacks and natural is best. Processed foods, even those labelled as “low fat” or “fat free” are full of sneaky additives like sugar and preservatives, which actually lead to weight gain rather than weight loss. Pack yourself some fresh fruit, protein balls, muesli bars, nuts, or hummus with celery or carrot sticks. A good strategy is to buy a stash of snacks to leave work so you never get caught out and have to resort to the vending machine.
Organisation is your friend
Sure, this may be something you have heard before, but may not have been able to put into action. At the end of the day all it takes is a few minutes’ preparation at the start of the week – cook your meals for the week ahead on the weekend and you’ll be laughing. The key is organisation!
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
It’s also vital to stay hydrated throughout the day. People often report a 3pm slump in energy, but many don’t know that this often has to do with dehydration. The daily recommended water intake for women is two litres – the equivalent of about eight glasses. You have eight hours at work – challenge yourself to drink one glass an hour. This will also help you feel full and keep you from over-snacking.
Incorporate exercise into your working day
It’s important to move throughout the day as well. I can’t reiterate enough that sitting for long periods of time leads to a slower metabolism, so make an effort to move a bit each hour. If you can, go for a walk at lunch. Getting out of the office to move is refreshing and energising. You’re not going to be the only one in the office with fitness goals; find a walking buddy and encourage each other to get moving! If you don’t have time, park further away to force yourself into a short walk each morning and evening and commit to taking the stairs instead of the lift.
And of course, away from the office, getting to the gym is a great way to de-stress. However if you hate the gym – don’t force it on yourself! Find a physical activity that you actually enjoy – whether that’s running, joining a sports team or maybe even hip hop dancing – and you will be able to stick to it.
Listen to your instincts
Finally, the most important tip is to be self-aware. You know your limits better than anyone else. It’s beneficial for your health to take time off work, whether it’s a staycation or a trip to an exotic destination. Getting your mind off of the happenings of the office to focus on yourself will help you to remember what life is all about – and reset your goals and expectations.
We only have a few hours each day, and when many of them are spent in the office, you have to re-purpose your work hours to fit your health goals as well as your career goals. Eating better, moving more and focusing on your mindset will help you to seize the day with energy and passion.
Karina Francois is a leading Australian naturopath, health educator and public speaker with over 14 years experience running her own clinic in Melbourne, Infinite Health Practice. She is also an international author, releasing her first book, Clean Food, Clear Thinking in 2015. After visiting a naturopath who assisted her back to health following a period of illness, Karina was inspired to help others to achieve optimal health, and pursued a career in naturopathy.
This is not a trick question. I promise. Many of us think of health as separate to our career, while others think how we feel underpins our jobs but is this really the whole truth?
I would suggest that our internal health is intermingled with everything we do in life, from caring for our loved ones to relaxation, work, play – everything really. When we feel good on the inside, we’re at our most optimum with everything we face.
How the Health Ideal evolved into a full time job
I’ve been blessed to have been born into a family that takes health extremely seriously. My mother never gave us any food that wasn’t fresh or cooked from scratch and served immediately, even during her three job work week. I know, Power to Mums!
My father received a soccer scholarship into the most prestigious university in India, so taking care of ourselves has never been a passing phase in our family, health (both internal and external) means business.
I’ve been working in the family business since I was in my early teens, my father establishing our company in 1997. I can thank my parents for my obsessive love for health and turning it into a full time career for introducing me to the importance of being healthy and how it truly impacts every stage of your life.
Though health is definitely my passion, being the best entrepreneur you can be or even an inspiration in whatever you do (whether it be a position in a corporate environment or being the greatest example to those around you as a stay at home mum), relies heavily on how you face the challenges you face daily.
How Health affects your Performance
Apart from the obvious reasons poor health affects our employment, feeling lethargic or generally under the weather reduces our productivity, a place we definitely don’t want to be!
Though organisations may have a predominantly financially motive in keeping you healthy, your good health is particularly important to your loved ones and most imperatively, yourself. No one feels good about not being able to do the things we love, even if that is a 7am start on a Saturday morning to take the kids to rugby practice.
Being healthy ensures that you’re at your best all the time, every time, which is exactly where we want to be.
How do we stay healthy in this fast paced modern environment we live in?
Organic products may give us a little bit of a helping hand
In a society reliant on products including preservatives, chemicals and GMOs, many of us are making a very conscious decision to get back to our roots. Taking a leaf out of mother nature’s book, cooperatives and health food outlets are mushrooming up around all of us for one main reason – there’s a need they’re satisfying.
Though not all of you will be diehard fans of the organic concept, few of us can deny the incomparable nutritious value of eating fresh vegetables, fruits, fish and meats. My friend’s mum just recently retired and has had the time to cook more fresh food at home. Over the weekend she was reciting the staggeringly great effects she has noticed in her health from eating more freshly made home cooked meals.
“I feel more energetic!” she exclaimed over a cup of tea, and even I noticed how vibrant her hair looked. Admittedly, she’s also been exercising a lot more frequently (not crazily, just a forty five minute walk a day), so I would suggest that an adequate combination of exercise, good food and relaxation is quickly turning her into a better (nearing best) version of herself.
Some of you may be thinking about pressing the Back Button on your browser right about now but just stop for a moment.
I’m not telling you to go all gung-ho on your new health routine, baby steps are the way to go. Commit to making three fresh meals a week, or say you’ll only eat out twice a week, start exercising three days a week and if it feels good (and I have a sneaking suspicion it will), increase your workout to four or five times a week. If you can, get a family member or friend on board to take the journey with you. Suffer and celebrate together! Maybe you could share the cooking and get a fresh meal inside your and your family’s belly more than three days a week – bonus!
A combination of good food and exercise is sure to brighten up the way you approach your day. Remember, a positive outlook will surely result in positive outcomes.
Now it’s your turn!
So are you convinced to make that health change? Maybe your commitment to good health resulting in a more improved general life has just been reinforced. Whatever your takeaway from this article, I’m sure your fellow Leaders in Heels would be thrilled to hear about the way you plan (or the way you already have) to make health a priority in your daily activities and the results you may have already achieved.
You know what they say; sharing is caring, so let us know in the Comments section.
Mituri believes you never stop learning which is why she believes there is still more to know about when it comes to Mother Nature. As a previous Journalist, PR Specialist, Editor and Reviewer, she has worked for News Corp as a Journalist, Editor and IT Specialist, a variety of online mediums and local newspapers as well as for Australia’s second largest Publishing House, Express Publications. These days she’s doing PR (amongst many other roles like nearly every entrepreneur on the planet) for her Organic based/Certified Organic brand Nim-Véda Australia (www.nimveda.com). Go check it out at http://www.nimveda.com