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March 14, 2005

Excerpts: Mother Leads Best - Part III

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 7:37 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Myth #1: Motherhood will make it more difficult to get to the top. Corollaries of this myth include, Moms cant devote the time or energy necessary to qualify for these positions and Organizations are reluctant to select mothers for top jobs because of the fear that they will give in to the demands of their family over the demands of their jobs. While some organizations may subscribe to this myth, most companies are more enlightened. The authors of Leaders in a Global Economy Report determined, Women at reporting levels closer to the CEO are more likely to have children and less likely to have decided not to have children than women executives at lower levels. (Galinsky, 3)
Shelly Lazarus, the CEO of Ogilvy & Mather, said, It is certainly possible to be both a mother and a CEO. You learn how to set priorities, and you learn how to enjoy the ride. Shelly noted that this belief isnt necessarily shared by all women, as evidenced by a commencement speech she recently heard: I was startled because the speaker gave a speech that you cannot have both. These were young, impressionable women, and she was telling them not to believe it. It really bothered me. Theres enough evidence that you can do both.
No doubt, some women in certain fields and in specific companies will face roadblocks because they are moms. Balancing career and family certainly can be a challenge, but in the majority of situations, it is not an impediment to securing top corporate positions. In fact, the Leaders in a Global Economy Report suggests that motherhood is viewed as a positive rather than a negative quality when selecting candidates for executive positions. The tide is indeed turning. No doubt, organizations are recognizing that the qualities of maternal leadershipperspective, balance, nurturing, and so onare exactly the skills needed to manage a diverse workforce in turbulent times.
Therefore, when you think about your motherhood decision, dont beat yourself up because you chose to have kids and believe that you havent achieved your career goals because of that decision. Unless you work for a truly backward organization, this isnt the case. Similarly, if youre a younger woman trying to decide about becoming a mother, dont let this myth stop you from starting a family if that is what you really want to do.