Children or career! Women lead successfully

Austria’s first chancellor has done a lot to be the first woman to head a government. The price for this is, among other things, that she deliberately avoided children long ago. Child or career still seems to be the central decision for women as managers.

Women are not per se the better leaders. But companies that employ women at higher levels as managers are proven to be more successful!

However, whether women can play in the top league is also due to whether men take their family responsibilities seriously:
There is real equality of opportunity in the professional career of women and men only when responsibility for the family (not just financial ones!) Is also as naturally assigned to men as is currently the case for women!

Many studies and statistics show that this equality of opportunity to achieve high management positions as women is far from being achieved. Unfortunately, not only the in Austria Recently set quota for a – only – 30 percent women on supervisory boards.

There are seven dimensions to consider if women want to lead successfully:

1) Women, consciously accept your power!

Who is a clear YES! says about their own leadership and therefore also position of power, stands for their position and responsibility. This inner YES! creates clarity and orientation for the entrusted employees. At the same time, it prevents the uncontrolled involvement of "shadow chancellors".

Accepting the leading position consciously is also shown in a grounded and upright posture, a direct and straight look and a calm, clear and relaxed voice. If women YES! say about their management responsibility, they know the consequences: less time for original specialist activities, double balance up and down in a "sandwich position". And the loneliness of the top demands, in friendships, family, nature and spirituality, to consciously and independently cultivate sources of strength.

2) Women, pay attention to your inner images!

"Watch what you think it could really be!"
While men have been shown to overestimate themselves and their skills, women too often "sell" themselves and their skills below their value. Weak images of themselves and destructive thought patterns weaken and have little effect on being chosen by others for responsible positions.

Good self-confidence and inner freedom promote the ability to be humorous and relaxed. This attitude affects the image of a company’s most valuable resource: the employees. Meeting them with trust, appreciation and attention strengthens the personal authority as a manager.

The trusting knowledge of being integrated into a broader horizon strengthens the ability to deal with mistakes in a human-friendly and constructive manner. Attitudes that a confident leader brings respect to their employees.

3) Women, learn different leadership languages!

There is a more masculine language in the management floors – which are still mainly occupied by men: plain language is spoken with a deep, loud voice and extensive movements. Leading in a direct and performance-oriented manner is the predominant leadership style, which is perceived more as male. A coaching, relationship-oriented management language is interpreted more as a female and therefore too often devalued. If women want to assert themselves as managers, it is wise to master the entire range of different languages ​​and leadership styles.

Participation-oriented, participative leadership encourages e.g. the willingness to share the consequences of the decisions. The staff will thank them. And success will prove them right.

4) Women, know your limits!

The high burn-out rates show that leadership is very exhausting. Since women in particular have learned to push their limits too often, it is all the more important to charge the battery regularly. A responsible manager is characterized by being mindful of the – also cyclically changing – stresses on the psyche, body and relationship networks. Cleverly interrupting the working day with breaks, taking regular rest periods and offline days, regularly creating space for friendships, family and holidays shows that women have the shop under control.

The fact that poor communication or internal organizational conditions can be the structural reason for not being able to permanently regulate one’s own burden to a healthy level are questions that should be reflected on by the supervisor. In times of agile leadership, thinking about part-time leadership as well as models of shared leadership should no longer only be attractive for women in managerial positions.

5) Women, know your sources of power!

Successful management women not only have a high level of professional competence, they also know how their employees want to be managed. Successful managers also know the importance, not primarily about the position, but about the personal To act as an authority. In order to live in balance as a person, heart and personality development are just as important for a manager as management tools.

Nevertheless, there is the glass ceiling that keeps women – despite all their qualifications and efforts – away from the really high positions. Quota regulations point to this: Men tend to promote men, because the glass ceiling can only be broken from above, i.e. mainly by men. It is therefore all the more important for women to establish and maintain networks. Networks with women as well as mixed-gender networks.

6) Women, resist multiple burdens!

When women take on family responsibilities, multiple burdens are almost normal. Social thought patterns and traditional role models reinforce the prerequisites that family work almost automatically gets stuck with women. Demanding structural framework conditions at the level of politics as well as companies is therefore a responsibility of both men and women. It works – for men as for women! – about sufficient childcare places, family-friendly meeting times, equal pay for the same performance, family-friendly working hours and management models, pension and career-promoting interpretation of parenting and care periods, etc. women in management positions need also men who – both in the company and in the family – take their care duties seriously.

Women also experience multiple strains with a view to their physicality. A woman in a leadership position should not only be smart, experienced, assertive and business-savvy, she should also be pretty. Just being beautiful and wanting to draw attention to yourself with a permanent smile hurts women. External beauty seduces (men) to less perceive the professional qualifications. Skillfully balancing in this area of ​​tension between the joy of one’s own beauty and the desire for one’s own cleverness is often a multiple burden for women in management positions, but always a special challenge.

7) Child or career – the all-important question for women!

While men like to defer their private freedoms for their professional careers or have a woman who has their back free, the career ladder of women kinks at the latest when it comes to the question: child or career. The question "family or job?" Can usually be answered today with an "and".

When asked whether a woman can assume responsibility for (one or more) children, the social stereotypes – mentioned above – usually still have a very strong effect: After all, successful women are usually not backed by a strong man who is responsible for she cooks, cleans, takes care leave, goes to the parents’ day, organizes children’s birthdays, cares for her parents or is involved in the neighborhood.

If a woman is pursuing a career and wants to have children, she has to ask herself – like the Chancellor in her day – whether she has the right man at her side.

Women lead successfully?

What does it take to experience successful women in the management of companies, organizations and even governments with more naturalness?

It takes social awareness for the patterns of thought to be changed – for women as well as for men. Changes in thinking and role models lead to the creation of the necessary structures and framework conditions. Only these enable both men and women to benefit from equal opportunities in terms of career when it comes to equitable wages and care equity in solidarity based equality. Because there is real equality of opportunity in the professional careers of women and men only when responsibility for the family (not just financial ones!) Is as naturally assigned to men as is currently the case for women!

This blog is the abbreviated version of the lecture "Women lead successfully" from April 2019 in the women’s salon of the Batschuns educational center.


MMag. a Dr. in Magdalena M. Holztrattner MA, director of ksoe, social ethicist, executive developer


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