Hallway Studio

November 9, 2017

I’m pregnant with my second child and I’ve got a few months before I go on maternity. My growing belly is a daily reminder that I’ve got to get my 40 person team ready to run without me for a while.

In my first pregnancy, I was scared about my job, my career, our finances and if I could still be the professional I wanted to be. This time, I’m more relaxed and confident. I know that having two children under four will be hard but I also know that I will figure it out with the support of my family and colleagues.

Getting out of the weeds and focused on growth or strategy is hard for any leader to do. But there is something about knowing that you are going to step out of your job for a while that forces you to get out of the weeds and think about what’s really important and who should be doing it.

A friend and colleague who recently returned for maternity leave and we think pregnancy is great for scale. There are things that I want to do that I haven’t been able to do fully because I have to fight fires. If I get this right I can make progress on these new big ideas and spend more time with clients and prospects helping solve their problems and growing my organziation.

Empowering my leaders
I am very lucky to have a thoughtful, resourceful and experienced leadership team. I’m asking them to step up and take on new responsibilities.

I’ve identified the processes, meetings and approvals they will need to take on. I’m making sure they are involved in the right meetings and communications. I’m steering people to them instead of answering myself.

When they are ready I’m going to step out of the day to day running on the team. I’ll be here to coach and advise so they get plenty of time to ramp up fully while I’m still here. This will also help the team and stakeholders know who to go to for what and they won’t be confused when I go out.

Making my thought process visible
My leaders can’t see what I’m thinking and they don’t see a lot of the little things I do to make things work. I’m trying to make that all visible.

Someone shared a challenge they were having so instead of fixing it, we talked about how I think through the problem. We talked about who I would talk to, how I line support, who needs to be in the loop.

The plan is for them to hear what I do and for us to brainstorm what they will do so they start developing new patterns of behavior.

Creating useful documentation 
When I got pregnant the first time I was building a business unit focused on helping companies validate new product ideas. I invested a lot of time in tools and training because they weren’t going to be able to ask me what to do. This blog is one of those resources.

The goal wasn’t to control what they did, they are a talented bunch, the goal was to give them a good place to start so they didn’t have to invent from scratch, so they could focus on meeting the client’s specific needs.

Not taking it back
My friend who recently returned from maternity leave discovered that her team really stepped up while she was gone. She is not taking back the things she delegated, instead she is looking at what coaching the team needs and what she really should be doing to lead and grow her organization.

I hope I can do the same thing. I believe in my leaders and my team. We’ve got this.

Image: An old experiment in illustration, this might be a tad literal

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