Janet Walkow Christine Jacobs

I Am Only One Person

…so everything has to be consistent

I have long felt the need to integrate a sense of ‘me’ into my whole life.  For many years I worked long hours running pharmaceutical production facilities and power plants.  And, I was the single mother to three wonderful, but demanding, offspring.  How did I get everything done?

First, my children might question that I did get everything done.  My normal response to that question was to laughingly say that I do work at home and home at work.  I called teachers and doctors and planned Girl Scout meetings from work and was always available for a teary child. I answered work voice mails or emails and read memos at home.

More importantly, I used the same skills and personality at both home and work.  I know of people who claimed different personalities for home and work but not me.

Two recent books have made strong points that clarify this position for me.  In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg gives great examples of practicing the same behaviors consistently at work.  Whether you want to change personal behaviors (exercise or diet, anyone?) or work cultures, it is important to be consistent and very redundant.  My favorite example is the story of Paul O’Neill as the new CEO at Alcoa.  He talked about safety and personal performance at a time when other CEOs were talking only about cost cutting.  And the habit of thinking about safety drove the organization to better performance as all of leadership worked to understand processes.  Importantly, he punished bad behaviors. Read the review for more details.

Leadership Model / Life Model

My new favorite leadership book is Take the Lead by Betsy Myers. In this book Ms. Myers explores the “emergence of a new leadership model where having all the answers up front is less important than asking the right questions, where strength is derived less from the power you wield than from how you make the people around you feel.”  This model inspires people to be great as opposed to bullying them or bribing them to acceptable levels.

What is the key to achieving this nirvana of leadership?  The book goes into details on the need for authenticity, connection, respect, clarity, collaboration, learning and courage.  These skills and practices are important for organizations and for families.

Is it any wonder, however, that people I worked with would call me “Mom”?  I was the same at home and at work.

Share your stories. Do you have the same or different ways of using your skills in various situations?

Christine Jacobs is an experienced corporate executive and a co-founder of Leading Women. Read her full bio.

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