Earlier this week, MongoDB CEO Max Schireson made a surprising announcement: He’s stepping down from his position to spend more time with his family. As he explained on his blog, he doesn’t feel he can continue to properly run the company in New York and support his family in California.
I say “surprising” because not only is it out of the blue, but Schireson also isn’t being forced out because of poor performance or amid any sort of scandal (which is usually how these things go). He’s simply making a choice. Oh, and he’s also a dude.
Jezebel’s Kate Dries raises the inevitable question, “What if Schireson were a women?” pointing out that the reaction would be drastically different. “She’d probably be at the receiving end of concern from other women that she was giving up her career,” Dries writes.
While Dries’s concerns are valid, it’s important not to look at this as a gender issue (even as Schireson recognizes he is treated differently as a male: “Friends and colleagues often ask my wife how she balances her job and motherhood. Somehow, the same people don’t ask me.”).
It’s About Leadership, Not Gender
The larger story here about what it means to be a good leader. A good leader, as Schireson clearly is, has the wisdom to recognize he/she can’t be everything to everyone, the humility to admit it and the courage to do something about it – even if it means going the unconventional route.
By stepping down, Schireson is making the best choice not only for him and his family, but for the people he leads. “The future is bright and MongoDB deserves a leader who can be ‘all-in’ and make the most of the opportunity,” he wrote on his blog. “Unfortunately, I cannot be that leader given the geography of the majority of the company in New York and my family in California.”
Schireson’s story also brings to light the reality “having it all” is not a struggle exclusive to women, and even more importantly, no one – male or female – should feel guilty about making the choice he did. In an interview on “The Today Show,” Schireson said he hopes his story will “help others feel more comfortable making similar choices.” (So…sort of like an “It Gets Better” campaign for CEOs?)
What do you think of Schireson’s decision? Do you applaud his decision to step down?
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