March 16, 2005

Excerpts: Mother Leads Best - Part V

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 8:26 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Myth #3: To become a CEO, you must carefully plan your career and life around your goal. While you need to get the right mix of academic and job experiences to be even considered for a CEO position, you cannot plan every aspect of your life to the point that you significantly increase the odds of becoming a CEO. When I hear women complain that they would have been considered for a CEO job if they had never had kids, I know they are under the influence of this myth. When they decided to have children, they did not automatically destroy their chances of being a chief executive. Though being a mom might not have fit into a formal CEO career plan, it also didnt throw them off the fast track.
When my son was young, he wanted to be a professional athlete. While he was very talented, the probabilities were still a million to one. Now that hes a scholarship athlete on a Division I football team, his probabilities are more like a hundred to one. His odds of making it, while better, are still pretty low. He knows hes at the mercy of certain factors beyond his control, such as injuries and luck. As a result, he is not planning everything in his life around playing professional football, even though he still would like to achieve this goal. Similarly, women who decide not to have children because it doesnt fit with their CEO plan are forgetting that factors beyond their control will impact whether they ultimately become a CEO. Only so many top jobs are available, and if you sacrifice a family for this long shot, you are making a bad bet.

About Dylan Schleicher

Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.