Earlier this year Jacinda Ardern announced her plan to step down as Prime Minister of New Zealand (New York Times). Several things flashed through my brain …
- Amazing that she openly shares she “no longer [has] enough in the tank” – something I don’t think I’ve ever heard from a man leaving his post.
- I think of her rebuffing a reporter asking her a sexist question during a joint press conference with the Finnish Prime Minister.
- What will this mean for her next career?
- Is it finally acceptable to take a career pause and not be judged as “weak” or someone who “couldn’t cut it”?
Stepping Aside for the Good of Others
I won’t pretend to know everything about every world leader. I struggle to think of one (in the recent past) who voluntarily stepped down from a position of power. It seems more typical for a leader to be replaced after losing election … a no-confidence vote … a coup … or a scandal. So hearing of Jacinda Ardern’s decision and learning that is seemed to be rooted in truly wanting the right thing for her country – gave me pause.
Ok … maybe there were political undercurrents. Maybe the party wasn’t polling well so she was asked to step aside. But her youth in that role … and … her willingness to put working mothers front and center (Jacinda Ardern’s baby attends the UN), felt relatable. I saw it as an amazing show of bravery and leadership.
Is This a Break-Through Moment?
I thought of the working moms on my teams. I thought about the demands on their time. How stretched they must feel juggling work at the office … work at home … work as partner/wife and how many get asked questions (like Jacinda) that no man would be asked.
Is this the start of something new?
Is this the breakthrough moment where leaders are lauded for doing the right thing rather than shamelessly holding on to power no matter it takes?
Choosing the Right Path for You
I have a series of vlog posts about what I learned from my working mommy cousins. I’m grateful for all they taught me. Openly discussing the challenges that came with being a working mom was brave. Sharing the things colleagues / managers / and leaders can do to be supportive was so helpful and need to be shared – broadly and loudly. And for those privileged to be in management or leadership roles, it’s on us to elevate new moms and parents by spotlighting the strengths they bring to our teams and operations.
I’m grateful for Jacinda’s very public decision to step down. I hope it does result in a change around how we view those who make the choice to step down / step back / or walk away. The machine will continue to run. But there’s only one of you. You matter. You are strong. You can make choices. And you have the right to make the choices that are best for you and your family.
What choice did you recently take that changed your path? What did you learn? How has that impacted how you lead? Share in the comments and let’s help each other learn while we encourage supporting one another!