Men Leading in the New World of Work


Last week I wrote about the huge opportunity that’s there when you recognize slow change and move with it. If you had any question about whether women will become ascendant in management, check out last week’s survey. (It’s unscientific nevertheless the results of the 500 people who answered the survey are startling.) I’ll return to that theme in future weeks, but today the yin to the yang.

I’d venture that nothing is more important to us than our children, whether the “our” is the general “our” of community or the intense “our” of the young ones in our own families. And that change I referenced above is profoundly affecting the work place of the home and the major “customers” in it -those kids. Women are on the march in the outside world of work, but have we in our society begun to see the depth and expanse of these changes at home. In this week’s quick survey, I wonder how you think we’re doing – particularly how men are making and will make the transition to leading with their best selves in the home place, where my father’s generation almost never ventured, mine has begun to tread, and in which the Gen Xers and Gen Yers are increasingly plying a new trade.

One of the striking aspects of last week’s survey is the contrast between perceptions (those of men and women) of the great talent of young women, yet their (again both men and women) significant skepticism about when women will outnumber men in mid-level and especially high-level positions.

Is one of the reasons for that contrast the fact that we don’t believe in men’s ability to lead (either full-time or as the primary parent) at home. Is it that we have hardly begun as a society to prepare men for excellence in this new world? In their relatively new world of public leadership, women have models aplenty: Hilary, Carly, Jennifer, Nancy, Oprah or Condoleza – all navigating and excelling.

So whom do we men look up to as models of male parenting? Of course, by definition such role models would be private. But I wonder if many or any guys could name such models. I suspect that we are at a critical beginning point, well behind the curve that women have climbed. Perhaps part of beginning and celebrating the extraordinary opportunity men have to lead in the home place is to unashamedly lay claim to it. I suspect I’m like a lot of guys who feel like, “I’m a pretty good dad, but I make a lousy mom.” I’m guessing that’s the flip of what trailblazing women felt and thought in the early days leading in the traditional world of work.

Maybe it’s time to begin to bring our own unique style (part of which reflects our maleness) of leadership and stop feeling like we don’t belong. It’s probably the best way to create some good role models for our own sons.

Love to hear your thoughts – through the comments and/or the survey – on how, especially guys at home,

Lead with their best self,