Greensboro, N.C. — April 3
Being a committed parent can enhance managerial ability because child-rearing develops skills that are useful at work, according to a new study by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) and Clark University.
The study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, contradicts conventional wisdom that parents are easily distracted by their responsibilities at home — particular ly their children — and, therefore, are more likely to be ineffective at work.
The article was co-authored by Dr. Laura Graves, Clark University associate professor of management; Dr. Marian Ruderman, CCL research director; and Patricia Ohlott, formerly of CCL and now at the OMG Center for Collaborative Learning.
“Based on previous research, we were fairly confident that our study would confirm that being committed to family increases a person’s overall well-being,” Ruderman said. “But our study shows, for the first time, that being a committed parent can improve a manager’s work performance.
“Raising a family helps develop skills such as negotiating, compromising, conflict resolution and multitasking, which are important traits of successful managers.”
The study’s objectives were to determine how managers’ commitments to marriage, children or both affected their life satisfaction, career satisfaction and work performance.
In addition, the study looked at whether commitment to marriage and children reduced the physical and emotional resources managers could devote to work or actually expanded managers’ abilities to meet the demands of their jobs.
Among the 347 respondents, 221 were parents. Almost all the respondents (91 percent) were married.
Being able to manage the demands of children and running a household helps respondents better manage the stress of work instead of adding to it, Graves said.
“Family experiences provide managers with positive feelings that carry over to the workplace and facilitate performance,” she said. “They also help managers develop the ability to see others’ views — a capacity which is critical to supervising others, working in teams or relating to superiors.
“Our study has important implications for employees and organizations alike. While many organizations have adopted family-friendly policies, most still operate under the assumption that a family focus will detract from performance. Our research suggests that this assumption is wrong. In fact, a family-focused manager may be, in fact, the leader your company should have.”
The study’s findings were based on respondents’ personal evaluations of their life and career satisfaction.
Work performance was determined by feedback from the respondents’ bosses, superiors, peers, direct reports and other colleagues.