“Clearly, we are all human, even the highest paid, most powerful leaders. We all have lives outside of the office. We all have families, friends, pets, hobbies, past times, personal passions and spare time commitments.
“Many leaders use some or all of these personal angles to improve their reputation. To make others warm to them, or to appear approachable, normal and nice. Some choose to keep that aspect of their life separate in public perception, and often have two persona’s – work and private.
“Neither is right or wrong. What is right, is that you find what works for you, for yours, and what helps you perform to the top of your ability. We’ve talked a lot in recent columns about work skills and techniques to be the best leader you can be. But what we will look at here is how you can be you and still perform like the best leader possible.
“At Vistage, we aim to help high-integrity leaders make great decisions that benefit their companies, families and communities. We advocate a work / life mix, not balance, as we believe effort is required in both, to be successful.
“General Colin Powell, a firm Vistage favourite in world class leaders, advises:
“Have fun in your command. Don’t always run around at breakneck pace. Take leave when you’ve earned it. Spend time with your families.”
“Great advice. But not always easy to do or justify when you are a leader. So how can you do this?
“Surround yourself with like-minded people at work and at home. Avoid people who take themselves too seriously. Find those who like to work hard but know when it is appropriate to play hard too. Have people you can delegate to and trust. Shift the load in a way that gets results from the entire team. A leader isn’t a one-person solution – ever!
“Set your own boundaries. In one of my peer groups we deep dived the ongoing issue that many leaders experience around taking holiday. A good leader encourages his team to take their leave. A good leader also leads by example. It is important to have recharge time, so at the start of every year, block out at least four weeks for you. And stick to those four weeks. As they get closer, determine what you will do with the time, but make sure you, your family and your colleagues appreciate that there will at least four weeks every year when you are not in the business. Companies that prioritise well-being — including a culture that supports people’s commitments outside of work — are more productive and profitable. The approach attracts top talent, reduces turnover, and sick leave.
“Create your own flexibility. Recent home and remote working showed us all that time best spent isn’t travelling to meetings or a workplace. If working at home is feasible sometimes and saves two hours you can use to attend a family event later that day, then do it!
“When planning strategy and then delivering it, concentrate on what outcomes are needed. And find the shortest routes, that offer the most impact with least input, to achieve those outcomes. We’ve all heard the expression ‘work smart’, find your ways to put it into practice. This will help you prioritise instead of disappearing under a huge ‘to-do’ list.
“Consider all of your roles, for me it’s husband, pet owner, director, coach, facilitator, business development, brother, son, farmer, administrator. I use a technique my good friend Brad Waldron advises, in understanding separately my own needs and the needs on the organisations I work with, and I apply his 7 key metrics to highly effective people approach.
“So, each week I look at my roles and reflect – did I do something in each role? If not, my mix is out. For the next week I will remix and make sure I focus on all my roles. Each time we neglect a role we are taking from our emotional bank. We must always remember to deposit to our accounts are always in the black.
“Avoid burn out. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a great tool for ensuring you focus on health and wellbeing to be the best performer you can. Take on leisure activities that enhance your performance and carve set times to enjoy. If exercise boosts your adrenaline and reduces stress, then it’s important. If reading calms you and builds your knowledge, reserve time for it.
“Finally, learn to say no. Not every dinner, every event and every meeting is critical for you to attend. Learn to choose the ones that bring the returns, and the others decline or give a team member the opportunity to attend, with responsibility being delegated to them.
“By looking after you, you set a great example. You will perform better, feel more in control and give off great vibes, instilling confidence….three great traits for a true leader.”
If you need support in getting your life / work mix on track to be a better leader then get in touch with Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org