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Resigning for family reasons -- work life balance or bogus?

As I sat eating my breakfast, reading my newspaper and saw an article that Mark Templeton, the CEO of Citrix had temporarily resigned for family reasons.

My reaction was "really?"

Mark has been at Citrix since 1995. He led the Citrix vision and is responsible for the company’s market direction, product strategy and passion for customer care. Mark transformed Citrix from a $15 million organization with one product, one customer segment and one go-to-market path, to a global powerhouse with annual revenues of $2.59 billion in 2012. He is the face and the brain of the Fort Lauderdale company. 

So, for him to resign must have been difficult.

Usually, when I read that someone resigned for family reasons, I have my doubts. The majority of the time, when it's men, "family reasons" is code for I want to leave gracefully and take another job as soon as possible." It can often mean "I'm being forced out." It kills me when that top leader who resigned for family reasons takes another high profile job within a few months -- turning that term into a big farce.

The article went on to say that Mark's son had died this summer. Here's a man who has wealth, and business success, but may be in need of some down time to grieve or regroup. In this case, "family reasons" seems plausible as the explanation for a leave.

The press statement read like this: 

Citrix Chairman Thomas F. Bogan said, “As many know, Mark recently suffered a tragic death in his immediate family. He now needs to step back from his executive responsibilities for a period of time to be with his family and heal from the impact of this loss. "

Mark's example may help other men. 

Recently, I read about a head college football coach who never missed a day of work when his son died  -- but struggled season after season to bring his team victories. 

Will Mark's example send a signal to the younger generations of men who look up to him as a role model? I would like younger managers and future leaders see that it's okay to step out of the workforce temporarily when family matters take priority.

Some workplace experts believe millennial men already think differently.

 University of California at Hastings law professor Joan Williams  argues that Millennials—particularly the men—want a different structure in their work life priorities. She writes in the Harvard Business Review blog that there's a generational shift taking place between those currently in executive positions (where 75 percent of the men are married to homemakers) and the group behind them. The "he works all of the time, she does all the housework" arrangement won't cut it with the younger group, writes Williams

She cites a study by Michèle Lamont who finds that blue-collar men regard the competitive, all-consuming corporate ethos to be signs of "selfishness." Instead of accepting the work-till-you-drop culture, she says millennial men are beginning to do what women have done for decades: to work as consultants or start their own businesses that give them the flexibility for better work-family balance.

Men shouldn't need to work as consultants or step permanently out of Corporate America if they can create workplaces where dealing with personal problems are as accepted as dealing with work concerns.

I already admire Mark Templeton for the culture of mobility he has helped create at Citrix. Now, I will admire him even more if he becomes a role model for work life balance and gives some credence to citing "family reasons" as a valid explanation for taking time off. It will be interesting to see how and if the company handles his return.  

Readers, do you think a change is on the horizon? Are men able to comfortable take time off and return to the workplace?

 

Comments

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Marian

I think it has everything to do with the culture per se, that men should be the ones working for the family. Having said that, I think there are more opportunities today for men (and even for women alike) to start their own home business - either for their main source of income or as support. I believe having such a 'back up' plan will give men the confidence to face 'personal' issues and allow themselves to feel for once and heal accordingly. (Rather than putting on a brave face all throughout but destroying their self-image in the process.)

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