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With a demanding job and a brood of eight children ranging from a year old to 15, I am always looking for ways to manage my life more smoothly. While I would never compare my talented work colleagues to my sometimes unruly children, some of the skills I’ve developed on the home front translate quite nicely to the office. Follow the Leader(s): My husband and I are comanagers of our family, and we believe that our role is to teach our children the core values that will turn them into good people and productive members of society. We lead by example, modeling the behavior we want to instill � telling the truth, working hard, giving to others, and being responsible. Similarly, at work, I treat my team as talented individuals and value their contributions. In my role as coach and mentor, I give regular feedback on performance, develop my team members’ skills through challenging assignments, and try to lead with the values that the company feels are important. It’s Called Empowerment: With my big family, I simply cannot attend every single event with every single child. Thus, it is important for me to figure out what appointments are critical for me or my husband to attend (e.g., a parent-teacher conference or a school play) and which appointments my mom or my nanny can cover (e.g., library story hour). Sometimes I let my older children help out by taking younger children to birthday parties where they can meet other parents and make contacts for future baby-sitting business. Delegation skills are also crucial on the job. I make sure I assign complex matters to senior lawyers. And while only I can make certain calls or attend certain meetings, there are plenty of times when junior team members can take on a bigger role. They can testify as a corporate witness, attend mediations, and negotiate settlements on behalf of the company in litigation matters. Smells Like Team Spirit: In our family, working together and supporting each other are essential to keeping things running smoothly. Sometimes that means that one of the older kids watches the baby so that I can get a quick shower, and sometimes the resident 12-year-old math whiz needs to tutor a younger sibling having trouble with homework. We encourage family spirit by attending recitals, plays, concerts, and other events together and cheering on the performing family member. While they may squabble, our “A” team (all eight kids’ names start with the letter “A”) is loyal to one another when it counts. At work, building a strong team is important, too. We initiate a new team member, including our contract lawyers and visiting global litigators, with a group lunch; and we celebrate personal milestones with surprise baby showers and birthday cakes. We jointly set our annual group goals and we foster trust, positive morale, and team spirit through weekly meetings where we discuss and resolve challenges that we are facing in our cases. Time for a Time-out: When our children misbehave, we apply the time-out method of discipline to move the situation in a more positive direction. We have disagreements at work, too. I defuse a tense situation by insisting that team members take a little time to calm down rather than saying things in anger that they will regret later on. Similarly, I may draft a nasty e-mail to vent, but I let it sit in the draft box overnight and, more often than not, delete it the next morning. Ce-le-brate Good Times: We love to celebrate a successful performance or report card by taking the family out for pizza, ice cream, or a movie. At work, after putting in a busy morning, sometimes we take a well-deserved break by walking to Starbucks for a latte. And when we win a big case, there is nothing I enjoy more than planning a celebration dinner at my favorite restaurant for our internal team and outside counsel. At this dinner, we will generally have a humorous awards ceremony where everyone will be given a case-themed souvenir to take home. Wendy Hufford is a senior litigation counsel for GE Consumer Finance in Stamford, Connecticut.

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