How to Find Balance As a Working Mom, According to a Leader Who’s Been There

Sponsored by DICK'S Sporting Goods

Photo of Linda Lubecki.

Photo courtesy of DICK’S Sporting Goods.

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Fairygodboss
July 19, 2024 at 1:9PM UTC

“We are on a journey with changing the company culture,” says Linda Lubecki, who has served as the regional vice president of DICK'S Sporting Goods for over three years. Our “‘people first’ mentality will help us retain and attract the best people within and outside our organization,” she says.

Lubecki oversees the operations of the South Atlantic region, which consists of nine districts, 115 store locations, and over 6,000 teammates. Before becoming the regional vice president, she served as a district manager in four districts around the West and East coasts for seven years. Altogether, she’s been working in retail for almost 40 years, with companies like Circuit City and Target under her belt, as well. But it’s thanks to DICK’S Sporting Goods’ dedication to a healthy work-life balance that she loves working there in particular.

 “Encouraging our teams to take care of their family, personal needs, vacation and dreams will all help with the balance that most individuals need,” she tells Fairygodboss. “We have realized in the last few years that our people are our most important asset and their needs must be considered priorities if we expect them to bring their best versions of themselves to work each and every day.”

We caught up with Lubecki to talk about what a work-life balance looks like to her as a working mother and grandmother, as well as how the culture at DICK’S Sporting Goods supports such a balance. Here’s what she had to say.

Paint a picture of a typical day for me. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before you go to sleep?
If it is an office day, I pull sales data, write a list of thoughts I would like to react to in order to lead my team effectively for the week, get needed information based on the TEAMS calls I have scheduled, do emails, etc.

I love to read the text message sent to me by my pastor, which really helps me stay focused on the day and week for my personal self. I typically head to the airport on Tuesday mornings for travel and spend the days in stores with DMs, managers and store teammates. Before bed, I will try and knock out important emails, then read the current leadership book that I have started and, lastly, call my husband to talk about my day and wish him goodnight. 

Attaining work-life balance can’t be done solo. What people, resources and tools do you rely on to get it all done?
My pastor starts my day off with a text message to help with self-reflection, and my husband helps me stay grounded with conversations around work and home so that I can balance the thoughts in my head. The DMs I work with are amazing and help to keep my priorities straight. The region team ensures that we are all balanced with the priorities for the region. And my administrative assistant helps to keep me organized and thoughtful with my time.

 I use my work calendar and personal calendar daily to ensure that I do not have competing priorities that will disappoint people I interact or come into contact with. I try to schedule vacations in advance with my family and friends so that I can make sure to reboot within my work family upon my return.

What does “balance” mean to you, and in what ways do you feel like you’ve achieved it?
It means having the ability to do the things that are important on a personal level so that I can be the best version of myself when I am at work. To be an effective leader, I must take time to self-reflect and adjust accordingly so that I can lead my team with influence and inspiration.

 It also means balancing what others need from me due to their own situations with finding a way to partner with these requests. When I am in stores, I practice the "be here now" approach, and I give my time and focus to the store teams I am with. I rarely put myself first, and, sometimes, I find competing priorities getting in the way and get disappointed with the outcome. (One example is emails getting piled up by the end of the week due to my focus on the team during store visits.) 

What’s one misconception you think exists around work-life balance today?
In previous experiences, balancing was seen more as a weakness than as a strength. This was primarily due to the "workhorse" mentality I was exposed to. When taking time off, one might have been perceived as disengaged or not working as hard as another. In actuality, a person can reboot and come back more refreshed and contribute more due to their refreshed mental state. I think this misconception still exists out there in some companies, but here at DICK’S, we strongly encourage personal and professional balance. 

What’s your go-to stress-relief activity or routine?
I love to play golf, go boating and bowling, work out with my friends, or even just have a friends-and-family gathering on the weekend where we sit out on the dock and look at nature and the water.

What kinds of boundaries have you established to separate work and family time?
I haven't set any boundaries at this point, as we have to make ourselves available as needed. However, I have a DM/region team that I can ask to lead the region when I do take time off as needed. 

Why do you think DICK’S Sporting Goods is a particularly great place to be a working mom?
We are shifting our culture to be inclusive for all diversity groups. This encourages others to expand on their career aspirations and family obligations and helps to create a balanced workforce. Our attention to a "people first" mentality helps others realize their potential as we help people at all levels fill their knowledge gaps so that they can achieve their personal and professional dreams.

What are you especially good at as a mom? What about at work?
With work, I believe that I am an empathic leader with high expectations who spends most of my time focused on people. I am genuine in my approach with talking to our teammates, and I am a leader who walks the walk. I am authentic and transparent about who I am, and I do not pretend to be someone else. I enjoy spending my time teaching and coaching to help educate others in a way that is more conversational vs. a textbook approach. This also helps me in my efforts as a mom and grandmother and has helped my kids excel in being the best versions of themselves. 

What’s your #1 tip for new moms who are navigating the delicate balance of working and mothering?
Ask for help, and don't try and go it alone. There are many people trying to balance both, and the company you work for must share the same values.

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