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CEOs take paternity leave, too

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

Leaders who motivate with action, not words, tend to make a lasting impression. Just ask Chad Dickerson.

As CEO of Etsy, the e-commerce website, Dickerson urges the company’s 600 employees to integrate their work with their personal life.

Employees feel more motivated when their CEO encourages them to lead well-rounded lives. But in 2012, Dickerson reinforced his point by making a dramatic personal decision.

During Etsy’s busiest time of year—the holiday shopping season—Dickerson faced a dilemma. Seeking to adopt a child, he and his wife suddenly received a call that they needed to travel to South Korea on short notice.

“I had to make a choice about how to deal with building my family while also being CEO of a company that was growing really quickly,” Dickerson recalls.

He knew that everyone was watching to see how he’d respond, and it didn’t take long for him to decide. He requested paternity leave from Etsy’s board of directors, and drafted a plan for how the company could operate effectively during his nine-week absence.

“I’ve heard since then that it meant a lot to people inside the company,” he says. “They actually saw me have a real choice to make and demonstrate what my values were—and what the company’s values were—through actions and not just words.”

Dickerson frowns on managers who brag about their long hours at work. He chastises male leaders who boast, “I only took off a few days when my son was born.”

“I didn’t want people in the company hearing things like that coming out of leaders’ mouths at Etsy, because I think that’s really harmful,” he says.

— Adapted from “How to craft a successful career,” Lillian Cunningham, www.washingtonpost.com.

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