The “B” Word for Women in Leadership: Listen to Barbara Bush

08 May The “B” Word for Women in Leadership: Listen to Barbara Bush

One of the biggest problems facing many women leaders and professionals is the “B” word:  balance. Too many highly talented and aspiring women leaders are working themselves into a frazzle. They wear too many hats in and outside of work. Over the past two decades, I have coached hundreds of women who are wildly productive at work, wanna-be supermoms at home and, usually due to exhaustion, are tired wives or partners.

In the past men on the fast track to the top rarely wore as many hats as their female counterparts. Today, with many millennials climbing the corporate hills, more husbands and partners are helping and chipping in on the home front. Yet, the women I see are still trying to keep too many plates spinning. (If this analogy is too old or an unknown reference, you can look up the plate spinners on YouTube on the “Ed Sullivan Show.”)

Why do women do too much? Our firm’s data shows that women leaders have higher scores on “Interpersonal Sensitivity” as a character trait as well as “Worriers” under their CDR Risk Assessment scores. So what this translates to, as is no surprise, that women are more caring, sensitive, helpful and aren’t as good at saying “no” when they should. Additionally under stress or when facing adversity, the worrying risk kicks in and they over analyze, over think things and become too cautious all based on a fear of failure. This results in them just working harder. So, women’s natural traits propel them into doing too much.

Women must learn how to pull back and begin to set realistic roles and boundaries. They also need to get a reading on how their non-stop behaviors are impacting their lives and relationships, particularly on the home front. Many of my clients’ key action plan item boils down to the “B” word, balance.

In an article by Mary Katherine Hamm in The Federalist on April 18, 2018, she wrote a wonderful piece about Barbara Bush’s commencement speech at the all women Wellesley College in 1990. Mrs. Bush offered essential advice for those women who suffer from the “B” word and do too much. They need to read and re-read Mrs. Bush’s words,

“At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend or a parent.”

Hamm explains, “….this advice is made more poignant by Barbara Bush’s passing hand-in-hand with her husband and surrounded by generations of family.”