As a top leader in your organization, you are needed, right?! Working less than 50 hours a week is nearly impossible. You need to be the best, have the best team, oh and for sure be there for your family too!
For leaders to stand up to status quo pressures and make work-life balance a priority, you need to cultivate skills around three relationships: learning to work differently with your teams at work, making a plan with your families to put home and family first, and shifting your own mindset to not only believe change is truly possible, but to give yourself permission to try, and speak up about it.
I know, easier said.
But I want you to know that having a great career, being a great leader AND having a great life is truly possible! Here are three areas that you should focus on creating/improving:
1. Learn to work differently
Social media and media in general has been great over the years, but it has shown us that others seem to have it all or seem to be better off than we are. This has set so many people up for failure, as we all are designed to be different and work at different paces and achieve different things in life.
So how can you learn to work differently and still be effective and GREAT? Create a culture where everyone can have time for work AND life; basically promote flexible and remote work and, possibly, open an office closer to where people live to cut down on commutes. Efforts such as these have been shown to reduce turnover, recruiting and training costs, while increasing employee morale and productivity.
If you have a structure that allows people some flexibility, they will produce better results. The bottom line increases when you show people you care about their entire life.
2. Believe in your plan and stand firm
Don't wait until you are burned out or your family is begging to see you or your marriage is on the rocks. Set a plan in place NOW and speak up for that plan. Think of ways you and your team can still do what needs to be done and be flexible so that you all can spend time with the people that matter most. Negotiate times of the year you can take off if you meet specific quotas or goals. Create four 10-hour work days for your team members so they are able to schedule doctor appointments during the week, instead of rushing at lunch breaks or on Saturdays.
You don't have to work like a crazy person to get ahead. You just need to take the time you have and learn how to be effective.
3. Make a plan to put family first
One idea is to perhaps tag-team with your spouse. One spouse negotiates working 3 days in the office and 2 from home and one 4 days a week and one from home, or something of that sort - to give you time together and time with kids. Some things are more important in life than work - although work is a means to have a decent life.
Or maybe figure out ways to have in-work daycare; bringing on college kids to the office during breaks or holidays to watch younger kids (because think about it - us adults don't get to just go home because our kids get a holiday off. We have to find new routines and schedules and hope a babysitter is available so we don't have to use our paid time off). We shouldn't have to choose between work and family.
What we see — our role models / leaders — shape what we think is possible. And right now, so many of us are stuck in the workplace overworking because that’s all we see in our leaders. So perhaps, if we are to change, what we need are fewer breathless articles about inhuman and insane CEO schedules that ignore the costs to health, families, and ultimately, innovation and business productivity.
And I think the more we hear stories of leaders who want both time to do great work and live a great life, people may start believing it’s actually possible.