Organizational Leadership and Work-Life Integration: Insights from Three Generations of Men
Smith, Deborah N.
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The literature has traditionally portrayed work-life balance as a women’s issue. However, working men, specifically those classified as Generation X and Generation Y, are starting to speak up and share that they too are struggling with integrating all aspects of their lives. Workers, as well as organizations can benefit when employees have a healthy work-life balance; however, the specific role of organizational leadership must be examined to determine the influence leaders play in assisting employees achieve work-life balance. In addition, further insight is needed to understand how employees in the three generations (Millennials/Gen Y, Gen X, and Baby Boomers), which predominantly comprise the current workplace, view organizational leadership in relationship to work-life balance. Since the voices of women have been studied extensively (Eagly & Carli, 2007; Favero & Heath, 2012; Guillaume & Pochic, 2009; Jyothi & Jyothi, 2012; Roebuck, Smith & Elhaddaoui, 2013; Schueller-Weidekamm & Kautzky-Willer, 2012), this exploratory study examines the perspectives of working men by asking how different generations of men view organizational leadership in light of work-life balance. The researchers used a convenience sample to invite men to participate in an online survey about organizational leadership, work-life balance and generational factors. One hundred one participants provided data, which the authors analyzed using qualitative data analysis techniques. Three major themes emerged. First, Generation Xers and Millennials, in particular, feel more pressure than Baby Boomers to be at home, in the community; and if they are fathers, to be present in their children’s lives. Second, technology both helps and hinders men in integrating their personal and professional lives. Third, organizations are generally more supportive of men’s multiple life roles than they were previously. However, most of the study participants still perceived that putting work first was tantamount to receiving a leadership position. A general conclusion from this exploratory study is work-life balance greatly influences men’s decisions to pursue organizational leadership opportunities. Consequently, the results suggest that organizations, in their effort to acquire and retain talented leaders, should explore and embrace new strategies that support employees in their endeavor to achieve work-life balance.