Meet Harry & Harriet, two very busy Leaders in an organization similar to yours. As they interact with stakeholders in different time zones, their day begins at the crack of dawn when they check their work email. After eating a hurried breakfast and dropping the children off at school, the rest of their workday consists of a slew of meetings, intermingled with bursts of brainstorming and team debriefs. In the rare occasion that a spare moment presents itself, they check email, their calendar and try to catch their breath. Their biggest problem is time pressure, as they find it difficult to complete an ever-growing list of competing priorities. Their harried, multi-tasking lifestyle prevents them from being fully present and engaged in their work and personal life. Recently, they have encountered health problems, such as rapid, irregular heartbeat, headaches, and aches and pains throughout their body. Because of these issues, their children are often let down when they can’t attend their after-school sporting events and music recitals.
Harriet & Harry’s situation is endemic throughout many organizations and costs billions annually in lost productivity. In our globalized economy, pressures to accomplish more with fewer resources, and our hurried, frantic lifestyles are causing leaders to sacrifice their health to complete a long list of seemingly endless responsibilities. Aside from the personal toll, families may feel disappointed and neglected as interpersonal contact steadily decreases.
For today’s time-pressured leader, the following is a guide to harness Emotional Intelligence skills to strike the elusive work-life balance:
Keep Work in Perspective
Work is an essential component for leaders in organizations. Nevertheless, it should not consistently overtake other responsibilities. Use Reality Testing skills to maintain an objective view of your schedule and your various obligations (professional and personal).
Temper Unrealistic Expectations
Leaders are only capable of taking on so much before physical and emotional resources deplete. Use Emotional Self-Awareness to gauge emotional reactions to unfeasible demands, which can serve as a trigger to adopt a more efficient/streamlined schedule.
Set Boundaries and Leave Work at the Office
When work continually encroaches on a leader’s personal life, quality of life suffers to the detriment of Happiness. Use Assertiveness to ensure that discontent with work volume is vocalized as much as appropriate, and implement Flexibility to secure breaks at lunch and in the evenings/weekends.
Change Your Mindset
Leaders frequently feel compelled to shoulder a great deal of responsibility to achieve the strategic vision of the organization. Use Problem Solving to alleviate strain, and leverage Optimism to alter perspective (adopt the mindset “this too shall pass”).
Meditate and Exercise
When pressure mounts, leaders often focus their priority on achievement and neglect their well-being. Meditation and exercise boost Stress Tolerance and Optimism, both of which help you to refocus attention and manage competing priorities.
Harness the power of delegation; assign tasks to your team to alleviate the burden of competing deadlines. Leverage Interpersonal Relationships to identify those who can shoulder some obligations, or those who need exposure or development in a particular task, and use Flexibility to ensure fair distribution of work.
Leaders must ensure that duties are prioritized according to importance, and tackle obligations in order of impact on organizational goals. Use Reality Testing to address the most significant issues, and implement Problem Solving to create a plan to address tasks.
Ensure Proper Rest and Community Engagement
Use Flexibility to ensure you receive proper sleep to help reframe challenging situations, and leverage Interpersonal Relationships and Social Responsibility to participate in community engagements that buffer the effects of competing priorities.
Indulge in Your Passions
Leaders devoid of hobbies or extra-curricular activities are not well-rounded, which can prevent a holistic or alternative view of the organization. Use Independence and Self-Actualization to identify interests and ensure that you engage in these pursuits.
QUESTION: How have you seen Leaders you know and respect manage their responsibilities and maintain balance in their life?
RELATED WORKSHOPS: Visit http://www.schreiber-training.com/Workshops.html and view course descriptions on Emotional Intelligence, Time & Priority Management, ReEngage: Enhancing Your Contribution At Work & 5 Keys to Energize Work & Home.
(Adapted from content originally authored by MHS Inc.)