Dr. Toby Cosgrove and 24 other male CEOs get vocal about work-life balance

Balancing work with family and personal life is not just a women's issue, though much of the discourse on the matter tends to focus on women more than men.

"Men never get asked about work-life balance," YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, a mother of five, said at a Fortune conference in December, according to The Wall Street Journal.

That is, until now. The Wall Street Journal conducted interviews with 25 male CEOs in industries including retail, consumer products, healthcare and law, and found that male leaders actively seek balance in their personal and professional lives just as much as females.

Some CEOs acknowledged that their jobs are all-consuming and most child-rearing and housekeeping duties are executed by their spouses. Others said they work family time into their busy schedules, but it takes effort. Older executives commonly expressed sadness over missing family life while investing time in their career. Many added that they are now trying to spend more time with their families, partially to set a more positive example to younger employees.

"Your kids are only young once, and you can't get that moment back. If I have any regrets it's that one," Dan Glaser, 55, the CEO of Marsh & McLennan Cos., said of the times he spent working instead of being at home on school nights or sitting in the stands of his kids' sports games. "When you're younger, you have this sense of your own immortality and you'll always be able to catch up," he added, according to the report.

However, Delos "Toby" Cosgrove, MD, president and CEO of Cleveland Clinic, acknowledged the impracticality of reaching a top executive role without being willing to invest a significant amount of time — even if that means giving up some personal time.

"You don't get to be a CEO — certainly not a successful CEO — unless you're giving a big percentage of your time," the 75-year-old executive said, according to the report. "You make your choices. You can never look back."

While male executives haven't been expected to feel conflicted about working through family time in the past, this is starting to change; senior leaders know they need to have flexible work policies and show they value balance to attract and retain younger hires, according to the report. For instance, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, 32, took a two-month paternity leave when his baby was born.

"It's critical for the CEO to set the tone," said Choice Hotels International CEO Steve Joyce, 56. "If he doesn't, there's a secret kind of code, 'If you take a vacation, you're not as serious an executive.'"

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