The Truth about the Power of Spouses and Partners

Apr 8 07:12 2006 Dr. Karen Otazo Print This Article

The article about college coaches’ wives resonated for me with what happens to the spouses of leaders in any organization.....

While reading the online New York Times I was struck by the article “Desperate Coaches’ Wives” by Lee Jenkins (March 23,Guest Posting 2006 New York Times).  The article about college coaches’ wives resonated for me with what happens to the spouses of leaders in any organization.  The writer notes that “No fan is more invested than a coach's wife.”  He goes on to describe the role the coach’s wife plays in putting new players at ease during the recruitment process.  The spouses of leaders in other organizations play the same role, often with a chat over dinner. Many senior executives want their partners to be involved in recruiting so their organization will have the look and feel of a family that cares about its employees.  Dinner parties and gatherings at holidays play the same role for college basketball teams as they do for top teams in other organizations.  Even the spouse’s contribution of discreet support and letting team members know the positive things said about them can be the same.  Leaders’ spouses and partners fill the role of a supporting player for the leader down to their choices of attire for the cameras.  They are part of the leadership package.                                  

One of my clients had an illustrative experience.  Sitting in a committee room in Washington DC, he was waiting to be interrogated by senators from both sides of the isle.  The TV cameras were everywhere.  His wife was in the audience watching him the way Justice Alito’s was during his confirmation hearings.  Having been prepped, however, she was prepared to support her husband.  She was wearing a conservative blue pantsuit to show solidarity with her husband, who wore a blue suit.  Her face showed concern and caring.  She never forgot that when a leader is on camera or in the public eye, his or her spouse or partner will be too.  She and her husband were both well prepared and ready to show their best in front of unforgiving cameras.  They knew that cameras magnify flaws and facial expressions and give you no place to hide.

In my next book, The Truth About Being a Leader, there will be a chapter devoted to the role of spouses and partners.  They are an important part of a leadership role.  Don’t forget that your spouse or partner can be a key player in your organizational life.  Make sure he or she understands the part and is ready for it.  You never know when you’ll both be on camera!

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Dr. Karen Otazo
Dr. Karen Otazo

Dr. Karen Otazo is a global executive coach and thinking partner for multinational companies worldwide.Otazo is fluent in English, Spanish, French, Indonesian, and Mandarin Chinese.

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