By Rob Starr, Big4.com Content Manager.
Suz (Graf) O’Donnell is a leadership coach, personal branding strategist, management consult, workshop leader, and keynote speaker. Her past career choices include a period of time with Accenture, Capgemini and Ernst & Young.
Most recently, her new ebook, The Career- Family Formula: Three Steps Female Leaders Must Take When Planning A Family, tackles the daunting subject of balancing your personal brand as woman leader with your plans to have children and finding an equilibrium with both.
“The minute that someone says they’re having a baby, their employees, boss and customers all start wondering, ‘Is she coming back?’” O’Donnell says adding most people begin wondering how the change will affect them overall , if anything will need to be revised and how will they need to cover in the woman’s absence.
She goes on to say the trick to smooth transition is transparency on the part of the leader.
“The more you’re open about what’s going to happen, the less fearful people are and the more they can perform on a daily basis.”
There are other factors that need to be carefully considered, according to O’Donnell. Although the media, laws and rules have bolstered women in positions of authority and their choices concerning pregnancy and career, 95% of decisions are made unconsciously and there’s an inevitable tendency to be concerned with a leader having a baby.
She also says the number of men and women in management positions in accounting and consulting firms are fairly even until mid level, when the balance drops off in favor of men. Finally, women have a series of choices after they have a baby—they can come back to work and do the same job as before, they can return to a revised schedule or not return at all.
Return to the C-suite
The Career-Family Formula™ is O’Donnell’s answer for those influential women who want to be sure the transition to motherhood leaves the door open for their return to the C-suite. These are the three steps that career women need to take when planning a family and they include: creating a career assurance plan, developing your career brand and building a rock solid delegation strategy.
It all starts with some clearly defined objectives.
“My recommendation is about reestablishing your personal brand and how people see you as a leader at work,” O’Donnell says. “ It’s also about knowing what you want and making that clear to everyone else.”
She also stresses that it’s important to start implementing your plan months in advance of telling anyone you’re having a baby and tweaking it through your career.
You can read more about The Career- Family Formula: Three Steps Female Leaders Must Take When Planning A Family here.