Work-Life Balance for Leaders: Guest Author Bob Cooper
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has stated that she plans on spending a lot of time getting rest and relaxation. She had an extensive travel schedule and was feeling burnt out from a very demanding role.
How are you feeling right now? Do you feel that your work is controlling you or you are in control of your work?
In many workshops I ask participants to draw a circle and divide the pie up according to where they currently spend their time. How much time in a typical month is spent at work, with family, relaxation, etc. I then ask them to draw the circle showing what their ideal life would look like – how they would like to spend their time.
Leaders set the example for their team by modeling and promoting work-life balance. The following are a few suggestions:
- Model work-life balance by attending your child’s baseball game, recital, etc.
- Discuss with your team the importance of attending to personal priorities and taking vacation.
- Place your attention and value on the achievement of results, not time. Who would you prefer on your team – the person who puts in 10-12 hours a day and does not achieve their goals, or the individual who puts in 8 hours and consistently meets or exceeds expectations?
- Prioritize your top 2-3 objectives and make sure to accomplish at least one important task each day. Make sure that you only spend time on those areas requiring your direct involvement, and delegate the balance.
- If you feel that your work is out of balance because you have weak or ineffective team members, either develop them for success, or get them off the bus. Do not allow these individuals to place their work back on your desk or step out of accountability.
- Say “no” when necessary. Do you tend to volunteer for everything? Do you take on non-value added work at the expense of being able to execute on key strategies?
- Work with your team to evaluate all tasks, and give permission to your team to find alternative ways to handle non-value added tasks. Maybe the time has come to eliminate these tasks. Have you ever asked someone why they are doing a certain task only to hear – “Because we have always done it that way.”
- Establish times during the day where you do not schedule a meeting or answer e-mails. For those standing meetings that you always attend, can someone else go in your place? If not, why not? Confident leaders have no trouble letting other members of their team gain exposure by having them sit in for them on some important meetings. These same leaders also show confidence by letting their superiors know that they have total confidence in members of their team.
- Delegate, delegate, delegate! You should assess each member of your team relative to strengths and career goals so that whenever possible you assign tasks that allow them to grow, play to their respective strengths and enhance their professional satisfaction.
- When the day comes that you retire from your current work, please remember that you will never have the following regret – “I wish I spent more time in the office.”
Answer the following questions:
- How important is work-life balance to you?
- What’s stopping you from achieving a sense of balance?
- What steps are you prepared to take to achieve a greater sense of balance?
To avoid burnout, make sure to get at least one day of rest each week. Get regular exercise, eat healthy meals and drink plenty of water. Develop positive relationships with others who have similar interests. Take a few minutes each day to list your accomplishments and what you have to be grateful for. This helps you to maintain a good perspective when doubt sets in. Accept the fact that you can never achieve perfection. Set reasonable goals and view mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow.
Great leaders develop great people and achieve great results. I know many whom also lead very happy and balanced lives. I have found these individuals to be focused and empowering leaders. They have very dedicated and loyal followers. To achieve balance, you have to really want it. You have to have the confidence that you can achieve it. You must also feel strongly that you deserve it.
You can achieve greatness and maintain a sense of happiness and contentment. It is much more fulfilling than logging in thousands of miles and feeling burnt out. We are not Hillary Clinton, but we can achieve a sense of balance and lead the way for others to do the same.
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RL Cooper Associates’ book “Heart and Soul in the Boardroom“ outlines suggestions for leaders to develop highly respectful and ethical work cultures and is available in the Manage My Practice Store. For additional information about their services, please visit www.rlcooperassoc.com.