March 14, 2005
Excerpts: Mother Leads Best - Part II
Motherhood absolutely impacts your leadership style. It rounds you out. Overall, it makes you a more complete person. By virtue of raising children, you become a much more complete leader.
-Linda Wolf, Chairman and CEO, Leo Burnett Worldwide
To be or not to be a mother is a question that many executive women wrestle with, and most decide in favor of having children. Whether you made this decision long ago or are just starting to grapple with it, you probably have not given much thought to how it will increase your leadership effectiveness. Typically, women focus on more practical matters, such as how the time away whether it is a relatively short maternity leave, a longer sabbatical from work, or a decrease in hourswill negatively impact their careers.
The executive mothers in this book did not experience a serious negative impact. And, while theres no magic formula about when to have kids or how many to have, Appendix B summarizes the choices these women made. If you have not had children yet, thinking about this decision from an informed leadership perspective can be eye opening. If you have had children, you can learn a lot about how the decision may have shaped the leader youve become; it can also provide you with new ways to take advantage of this choice, even if you made it years ago.
As you saw in the last chapter, the dragon lady syndrome is not a permanent condition. Motherhood and an understanding of its impact can have a tremendously beneficial effect. Similarly, the very decision to become a mother not only changes your life but, as we will see, changes your leadership style for surprising reasons.