Dual Focus Keeps Things in Perspective

July 7, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - While most executives appear to be singularly focused on their careers, a growing number are equally focused on their lives outside of work - and the latter group appears to be less stressed, according to a new study.

The study, Leaders in a Global Economy: A Study of Executive Women and Men, included the perspectives of nearly 1,200 senior executives from ten different companies. While more than half (61%) said they were “work-centric,” nearly a third (32%) were classified as “dual-centric,” placing the same emphasis on their lives at and outside of work.

Child “Bearing”

The study found that 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, at least when differences in age are controlled statistically. Moreover, these higher-ranking women are no more likely to have delayed or decided against committed relationships than women in lower status executive jobs, according to the report.

“Of particular importance for employers is the finding that executives who are dual-centric – who give equal weight to work and personal life – feel more successful at work, are less stressed, and have an easier time managing the demands of their work and personal/family lives,” said Ellen Galinsky, President of Families and Work Institute in a press release. “Women who are dual-centric have advanced to higher reporting levels and feel more successful in their home lives.”

Career “Advancement”

While men were more likely than women to express an interest in becoming CEO or Managing Partner (19% of men versus 9% of women), a sizable number of women (43%) want to be on their executive management committee. However, 34% of women and 21% of men executives have down-sized their aspirations, with sacrifices to family and personal life being the most highly cited reason. Women who are disillusioned about the limitations of the so-called glass ceiling are more likely to have reduced their aspirations than women who think progress has been made.

The study, which was conducted in partnership with three non-profit organizations – Families and Work Institute, Catalyst, and the Boston College Center for Work & Family – also found that nearly half (44%) of women and men executives plan to leave their jobs in the next 5 years, with 29% planning on leaving, but not retiring.

There are few gender differences in the intent to leave and what issues drive whether an executive stays or leaves.

The survey is online at www.familiesandwork.org