'Cost' of leadership should be taken into account by those climbing the ladder

By Mary Jo Frank
University Relations

Despite the increasing number of women entering the workforce, the workplace is changing women rather than women changing the workplace, according to Robert Pasick, psychologist and author of Awakening from the Deep Sleep, Men in Therapy and What Every Man Needs to Know.

At the Commission for Women's November brown-bag session, Pasick and JoAnn Allen, professor emeritus of social work, discussed some of the internal and external obstacles to becoming a leader at a forum titled "Awakening the Leader Within."

Pasick, who has worked primarily with men, said men no longer are the only ones suffering from what he called the "deep sleep syndrome," which is characterized by acting tough, playing to win, feeling isolated and avoiding emotional involvement with others. As women begin to climb the career ladder, they too become more involved in work, have less time for friends and try to hide their emotions, he added.

"We have to look at the cost for men and women in leadership positions," Pasick said. "Isolation is a great hazard we face in the work world."

Allen raised a number of questions related to leadership for the 60 audience members to ponder, including:

 

What images come to mind when you think of a leader?

 

In what areas of your life do you want to be a leader?

 

What would you gain or lose by becoming a leader?

 

How would being a leader affect other life goals?

For some, being a leader means giving orders; for others, it means influencing, Allen noted. Individuals can be leaders in different realms--at work or home, in politics or art, in teaching or creativity. A person who becomes a leader may gain power, money or status, she said. At the same time, the leader may upset the balance in important personal relationships or have to take on additional responsibilities that detract from other interests and activities.

Pasick and Allen concluded their presentations with audience discussion about leadership, sparked by a short role-playing episode on the subject.

One of those involved in the role playing, Leslie de Pietro, coordinator of the Family Care Resources Program, said, "Leaders bring out the best in other people. They really listen and respect what others are saying. They are consensus builders."

J.A. Bardouille, program manager for Plant Operations' Plant Academy, said, "Women have a unique opportunity to determine the kind of leadership role they want. Why do women want to replicate what men have been doing and aspire to become what men have created? We should be involved in re-engineering the workplace."