Friday, May 9, 2008

Being a Better Leader: Work-Life Balance

Dan McCarthy of Great Leadership by Dan shared this article yesterday on his blog. Especially profound was the last section entitled Leaders need a Life.
I took a new position which found me logging late and early hours everyday, stressed at home and overwhelmed at the learning curve and requirements of the new job. After weeks of frustration, poor nutrition and infrequent workouts, I downloaded Stickies; on a bright pink Stickie-note on my computer desktop I wrote "Do not get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life"-Winston Churchill. I also scheduled my gym time into my corporate calendar as a private event marked "unavailable", with repeats every day at the same time. No one schedules a meeting during my gym time and my office mates have become accustomed to seeing m grab my gym bag and head out of the office for my lunch hour (between 9-10am) at the gym. These two small steps have helped me immensely in balancing work and life.
The article argues (and research supports) that leaders need a life. It discusses how those who can balance the demands of a career, with the demands of family, kids, exercise, hobbies etc. outside work have better time and stress management skills. It even points out that exercise helps leaders cope with the stresses of balancing a career and a life.
I have always believed that setting boudaries (assigning space in your calendar only for you) and making it clear that you are committed to a healthy lifestyle, nutrition and exercise in the workplace makes you a better employee. The Stickie note on my desktop reminds me of this every day.
Challenge: I challenge you to block off 20min in your calendar (yes, make an appointment for yourself- put in it in there!) and take a walk today. You wouldn't want to flake on a meeting would you? And certainly not with the most important person in your life- You!

On another note, I am throwing my first Mocktail Hour in my office this afternoon. I intend to host a Mocktail hour once a month, or when the staff needs a break. Cinqo de May was on Monday, so I'm throwing a belated Mocktail party-complete with virgin pina coladas. Just a quick, half an hour come-and-go with snacks (organic, and gluten-fee) with themed music and a pinata. Just before everyone goes home for the weekend, they can take a wack at the thing and get out their frustrations for the week.

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