I read Putting Women First, and thought I would relate an anecdote from earlier in my career. I had just discovered, as in that morning, that I was pregnant. I hadn’t been feeling well, and was wondering why I was nauseous all the time. And where the heck was my period? I got an early pregnancy test, and sure enough, it said I was pregnant. Mark was overjoyed. I was panic-stricken. I was good at managing projects. What did I know about babies?
My boss asked me to come into her office. I did. They had this brand new program they wanted me to manage. The program was going to bring the organization into an entirely new direction. Did I want to manage it? Oh, I did, I did, I did. Here’s what I said. “I really want to do this. And you should know, I just discovered this morning that I’m pregnant. I have no idea how pregnant I am. I haven’t even made my appointment with my doctor yet. But I really want to do this. So if you still want me, I want this.”
My boss, without even blinking, said, “JR, we want you for the next nine months. That will get us to the trade show, and I know you’ll leave us in a state to get to release. Yes, we want you.”
I learned a lot about management, management myths, and about offering and taking work then. I learned not to step back from work, even at the beginning of a pregnancy. (Aside from constant nausea, I’ve had healthy pregnancies.) I learned as a manager not to fear that people might not be able to fulfill their “obligations,” that if you choose good people there is always a way to transition their obligations to someone else.
Make sure you watch Sheryl Sandburg’s video Why we have too few women leaders.
BTW, I’m delighted to report that my children have survived my mothering. Maybe even thrived :-) That product made the trade show. Daughter #1 was even born the day of the trade show. The product spawned enough new products to keep the company in business several more years, which may or may not have been a good thing.
If you want to explore more management myths, please join me at the AYE conference, Oct 30-Nov 3, 2011.