Do Mothers Make Better Leaders?

by Aman Singh Das | January 14, 2011

  • My Vault

For DuPont's first woman CEO in its 208-year existence, the key to leading a multinational company is having children.

Ellen Kullman, who is 54, took the top job at DuPont—the world's largest car-paint maker and the second-biggest seed supplier—two years ago thick in the middle of a global economic recession. Among her achievements, according to a Businessweek article:

"Delivering seven straight quarterly earnings that beat analysts' expectations, slashing more than $1 billion in annual costs in her first year, freezing capital spending and eliminating all group vice-president jobs."

Earlier this week, DuPont announced its latest acquisition with Danisco, a Danish biotechnology company, adding yet another "No. 1" tag to the brand: production of food additives.

So, what do her achievements have to do with parenthood?

The experience "helped her instill the discipline needed to bring her company through the recession," Businessweek reports, adding that "she centered fearful employees by having them focus on what they could control, whether that was customers or costs or inventories."

And this:

"I am a much better leader because I had three kids. With kids, they don't do what you want them to do when you want them to do it. Organizations don't necessarily, either. You've got to listen. You've got to learn how to influence."

So there you have it. The secret to successful leadership: Use your parenting skills at work to get results and drive a solidified and productive team. After all, considering how much time we spend at work, it is for most, a second home.

Related: Why Chinese Mothers Are Like Managing Directors

Complete Interview: Businessweek

Filed Under: CSR

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