If You Fear Ruining Your Career with Kids, or Kids with Your Career, Please Don’t. 


Pearl of Wisdom: Insights from Our LeaderMom Panel

One senior leader with whom we work, is extremely highly regarded in her global company (top-ranked in her field via a talent review that spanned almost 20 colleagues in different divisions) and is about to have her second baby. Recently she shared that she worried that having another child “is going to ruin her family and her career.” This write-up is for her.  

Across industries, we interact with many leaders who are unsure of how to discuss issues related to the intersection of work and parenthood. Most of us try to figure it out on their own. This breeds isolation, and that isolation feeds anxiety. When we are anxious, and hiding, we overestimate threats, underestimate our capacity, and jump to inaccurate conclusions.

Yes, having another baby is challenging and wonderful, and more to juggle. It is also something that plenty of women do successfully, while remaining highly engaged at work and at home.   

Our first study, Sustaining Success: Insights from Top Performing Leaders Who Are Also Moms, offered some surprising findings that speak to not only to how hard it is, but to how great it can be. Always remember that our panel is composed of women who are high on competence and contribution to start; they deliver at work. These women perform, navigate common challenges, and generate savvy work and life hacks that enable them to achieve results at work and somehow also remain present and fulfilled in their personal lives.

  • In fact, 8 in 10 say their lives are close to ideal.

  • A clear majority say motherhood has made them more effective at work.

  • 97% get a real sense of accomplishment from their work.

  • More than 4 in 5 women are satisfied with progress toward career goals (84% favorable).

  • An overwhelming majority of women are very happy with their families (95% favorable).

  • Nearly 9 in 10 exceed expectations at work.

Of course, there are challenges. Two top the list:

  • Guilt is a constant struggle. About 1/3 say they struggle with guilt, more in terms of work affecting home life than the other way around.

  • About ½ of the women on our panel see gender parity within reach in their organizations. (It’s tempting to say “Only ½,” but ½ could also seem like a lot.)

When we are thoughtful about the concurrence of having children and striving at work, and  mindful of how the desire to succeed in both arenas is a brave desire rooted in complexity, we find we need not be limited by our fear and find we are more able to see the whole.


#hardwonwisdom  #seethewhole  

Kaitlin Hershey