Senior executives have discovered through hard experience that prospering at their level is a matter of carefully combining work and home so as not to lose themselves, their loved ones, or their foothold on success. To learn how they reconcile their professional and personal lives, the authors drew on five years’ worth of interviews with almost 4,000 executives worldwide, conducted by students at Harvard Business School, and a survey of 82 executives in an HBS leadership course. The stories and advice of these leaders reflect five main themes: defining success for yourself, managing technology, building support networks at work and at home, traveling or relocating selectively, and collaborating with your partner.
Some intriguing gender differences emerged in the survey data. For example, men still think of their family responsibilities in terms of breadwinning, whereas women often see theirs as role modeling for their children. And male executives tend to praise their partners for making positive contributions to their careers, whereas women praise theirs for not interfering. Executives of both sexes consider the tension between work and family to be primarily a woman’s problem, and most of them believe that one can’t compete in the global marketplace while leading a “balanced” life. “Earnestly trying to focus,” the authors conclude, “is what will see them through.”
by Boris Groysberg and Robin Abrahams