Creating a healthy work-life balance is critical to an executive’s overall well-being and provides more energy to make the most out of both
It’s about maintaining balance
The question of how to effectively manage work so that it doesn’t affect private, family and social life has been a concern for most professionals since long. Successful senior executives have discovered that pursuing high ranks in the corporate ladder is about creating a good balance between work and home in such a way that you don’t lose yourself in either of them. Creating such balance also requires people to involve their family members in their work related activities and decisions.
We shall be exploring the results of interviews conducted for over five years involving 4,000 executives from around the globe. These interviews were conducted by Harvard Business School students and also included a survey of 82 of the Harvard Business School leadership course executives.
No matter how deliberate we are in our choices, there are always uncertainties surrounding us, but the key is to stay put and that’s exactly what was commonly found in the successful executives who were interviewed. We can extract five themes as following from their interviews and shall be discussing each in detail.
1. We have to define success for ourselves
Just like any project, in leading a deliberate life, you should also have the desired goals and targets in mind. We need to define what success is for us and be prepared to adjust as it always evolves over time. For one of the interviewed executive, success in work-life balance means spending at least 4 nights at home. The second executive believes you should have a good understanding about the lives of your family members. For the third executive, it was about having strong emotional energies at both work & home.
Another interesting finding concluded that women put more emphasis on individual achievement than men. Women also tend to be more focused on receiving respect, being passionate about work and making a noticeable difference. However, they were concluded to put less emphasis on continuous learning, development, and organizational achievements.
Many of the male executives who admitted spending inadequate time with their families reasoned it’s a cost they had to pay for providing their families and children opportunities they never had. They put more emphasis on their family’s wellbeing and future compared to spending more time with them.
2. Effectively managing technology
Managing emails, voicemails, text messages, and other communications tools is a matter of serious concern as we are not yet certain how when and where should be accessible for work. Being at two places at once not only causes the distraction, it also lead to errors and one cannot provide undivided attention to either.
Many of the senior executives prefer a face-to-face communication instead of relying on emails, text messages etc. A third of the executives believe technology is an invader when it comes to using it at home for work purposes whereas a quarter sees it as a liberator. Many believe that it’s the technology that helps them to be with their families while still being in connection with work in case they are needed for anything.
3. The importance of Support Networks
Senior executives across the board agreed that maintaining a good life-work balance requires a strong network of supporters that do their job behind the scenes and help them focus on their core work and more important things. This also includes emotional other than work related support from bosses and coworkers in case some uncertainty strikes them.
The prospect of integrating personal and professional networks received mixed responses and some believed they should be kept separate while many others said they can prove to be more fruitful.
4. Be selective when relocating or traveling
Creating a balance in work-life is not just about managing time for work and family, but choosing your location is also as important. Man of the executives believed that it’s better to rack-up travel miles and get a global business exposure while they can. Although international assignments are not easy for both, female executives are less likely to be offered and more likely to reject them compared to men.
5. Be collaborative with your partner
Leaders with strong family lives have always focused on the importance of having a shared vision for success with members at home. A shared vision helps to maintain a healthy work-life balance resulting in best of the both worlds. Among the interviewed executives, both men and women mentioned their partner’s support and making them pursue opportunities that proved to be rewarding in the long term. They can also be a reliable source of honest critics and feedback.