In every single Pathways to Leadership session we conduct, the desire to achieve “balance” is loudly stated as an objective. The lack of balance in the work place is an epidemic, one that research shows has a grave effect on results.
“Among more than 1,000 employees recently polled nationwide by Harris Interactive for Deloitte & Touche, the vast majority (91%) cited work-life balance as having a bigger impact on fostering good behavior than enforcing harsh workplace rules and penalties, the survey found.” (Quoted from Angus Loten’s web-article, Stress and Long Hours Prompt Employees to Lie, Cheat, and Steal at Inc.com.)
Sometimes I wonder who pays to have such research done, when the collective response is “Duh” – as in “who didn’t know that?” What’s equally surprising is the number of people who apparently hold their employer responsible for their work-life balance.
Innovate Your Leadership Focus.
It’s understandable that people feel significant pressure to perform at work. As the president of mechanical organization told me on the phone today, “It’s definitely a ‘do more with less’ world.” But this leader didn’t stop there. His follow-up comment was even more valuable than the first: “We can’t do things the same way. We have to innovate.”
He was talking about business leadership. He just as well could have been talking about personal leadership.
You Determine Your Work-Life Balance.
Fact: if you’re waiting for the conditions in your life to change (i.e. your boss, employer…) before you create work-life balance, throw away your watches because you’ll be waiting for a long time. Conditions may not change, but your choices can. Work-life balance is determined by one person: you.
Here’s the cool news: you don’t have to change your job to get work-life balance. True, plenty of employers abuse their workforce, and they, rightfully, have to deal with the high cost of turnover and poor ethics, among other ailments. What is equally true is that there are countless people who have taken the issue of work-life balance into their own hands by what they choose to focus on.
Graduates of the Pathways to Leadership program know that during the drive home from work they can take a Magic Moment. They use this precious time to ask themselves key questions to shift their focus.
- Instead of, “What do I really hate about my job?” they ask, “What did I learn today that will be valuable?”
- Rather than, “What didn’t I get done today?” these people ask themselves, “What did I do well today?”
- Not, “Why is my life such a mess?” – rather – “What are the greatest blessings in my life?”
- And instead of, “How come the relatives have to come over tonight?” they ask, “How can I be the best _____ (you fill in the blank – mom, dad, husband, wife…) that I can possibly be tonight?”
No surprise, the people that ask the subsequent questions report being “on-a-roll” when they get home – just in time to do the most important leadership work of the day.
The subtle but equally important part of this equation is that these people also report going back to work the next day equally enthusiastic. (Talk about impacting ethical behavior.)
Whose responsibility is it that you have work-life balance? What’s bigger, the circumstances in your life – or you? You decide.