Strategy

Careers: Look, it's Supermen!

Behind every great woman, a great man.

The old saying “Behind every great man, there is a great woman” needs an update. New research shows that behind many successful female execs are incredibly supportive husbands. These men provide emotional support, such as listening empathetically during times of stress, and esteem support, which bolsters a woman’s belief in herself, according to the study The Man Behind the Woman: A Qualitative Study on the Spousal Support Received and Valued by Executive Women by Souha Ezzedeen, a professor at York University in Toronto, and co-authored by Kristen Grossnickle Ritchey.

Super-husbands also help their wives climb to the top of the corporate ladder by adjusting their own careers and lifestyle, including staying at home with the kids and relocating their jobs. These decisions were once contemplated almost exclusively by women supporting their corporate-climbing guys, so times are indeed changing.

But for executive singletons searching for these seemingly perfect mates, alas, they do have flaws. Successful wives fault their hubbies for not showing enough initiative regarding household chores and childcare, and sometimes the guys didn’t listen empathetically, commanded them or wanted to be a “white-knight” to fight their battles. More damaging behaviour included refusing to be arm candy at events and resenting their wives’ successes.

Qualities women do consider highly include help handling kids and parents, and encouragement and advice when it comes to their careers. Help around the house surprisingly ranks last. Perhaps that’s because scouring pots and pans can easily be outsourced to hired hands — no doubt paid for from her bloated bank account.