To Better Balance the Work-Life Scales, More Men Should 'Lean Out'
When Max Schireson announced that he was leaving his role as CEO of MongoDB to spend more time with his family and friends, it went viral. He noted in his farewell blog that it’s common and expected for many women to juggle the work-life balance but, for the most part, men have been left out of this conundrum. Instead, it’s perfectly okay for men to do nothing but work and squeeze in time with their family if, and when, they choose. Schireson is bucking this gender bias, and he’s (hopefully) taking more men with him.
Whether you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or you’re in the early stages of your own startup, if you’re a man you already have a gender bias working against you. Yes, you might find it easier to open some doors compared to women. There are still plenty of gender biases going both ways. However, you might not feel comfortable telling colleagues that you can’t work late because your kid has a dance recital or you want to plan your vacation around your wedding anniversary, even if it’s the busy season (it’s always the busy season).
However, leaning out should be just as encouraged as leaning in, no matter your gender.
The human benefit. People thrive when they spend time doing things they love, being with people they love and having the chance to rejuvenate and reboot. That’s people, not just women. Even though women have primarily been the caretaker of the children and family, just because something’s “always been done that way” doesn’t mean it’s right, best for all involved or even works in today’s world. There was a time when only men were CEOs of companies, too. Most would agree that’s no longer the best approach.
Leaning out might be a good idea for almost anyone prone to over-working. That goes for men and women alike, entrepreneurs, executives and anyone else who doesn’t have the usual nine-to-five grind. Of course, even a nine-to-five can cause unnecessary stress, such as a lack of flex schedules when young children are in the family. No matter which public bathroom you use, it’s time to stick up for what’s best for you (hint: It’s not more work).
Changing the tides. Perhaps what’s most alarming about Schireson’s blog is that it was alarming at all. Why wouldn’t a person (in this case a man) want to spend more time with his family when he realizes that his work is overtaking his life? What’s the point in a lucrative career if you have no time to enjoy it? Luckily for Schireson, he realized before it was too late that he was starting to miss out on some of the best years of his life: Family.
He’s prepping the road for more men to stand up and demand either a better balance with their work or maybe the courage to take a different path. There are certainly positions where you’ll be working well over 40 hours per week, traveling often and have last minute commitments all the time that demand flexibility in your personal life. There are people who thrive in those environments, although many of them don’t have spouses, children or passion projects of their own (at least not now or perhaps ever). Matching yourself to your best job is an art but sometimes it’s easy to get blinded by the titles and salaries.
Is Schireson a hero in today’s era of work, work, work? Perhaps, but it's unfortunate one is needed. There’s always been an issue of work-life balance but, somehow, men got left out of that conversation. Thankfully, Schhireson is ushering them back in.