Leaders: Balance Your Work and Personal Life

By Jeff Wolf

Time to Read: 2 minutes

A proper work and personal life balance continues to be a key issue for most leaders today. With the pressure placed on leaders to execute and perform, what steps can they take to extract the most joy from their work?

Leaders are working longer hours, making work-life balance a critical issue that won’t go away soon. Certainly, technology has a huge impact on our lives. Immediate access and availability through smartphones, instant messaging, and email, put great pressure on leaders to respond quickly to both large and inconsequential problems.

When I coach executives, I find that many are tethered to their devices. As a result, they often tend to experience a loss of focus, lack of energy, and decline in decision-making ability, leading to job burnout, high stress, divorce, and even alcohol or drug dependency.

One effective way to combat work-life balance issues is through time management. When you efficiently manage your time, you have a more balanced life, higher productivity, less stress, and greater job satisfaction. I usually recommend several key steps:

  • Learn to say no. As leaders, we are always asked to take on more responsibilities, deadlines, and commitments. It’s human nature to try to please everyone and expect more from ourselves, but we can easily accept more work than we’re realistically capable of completing. Saying no in a professional way prevents you from overloading your schedule and accepting more than you can handle.
  • Determine when you’re at the peak of your day. People have peak and low periods during a workday. Find your peak, and tackle the most important issues during that time.
  • Create a not-to-do list composed of activities that need to be completed, but needn’t be personally handled by you. Decide who you can empower to complete these tasks and delegate.
  • Empower others. Surround yourself with great people and empower them with decision-making responsibilities.
  • Establish a no-contact time. Close your office door for 15 to 30 minutes each day. Let everyone know that you’re not to be disturbed. Don’t answer the phone or emails or reply to messages; instead, choose to work on issues that require your most immediate attention.
  • Maintain your energy and exercise regularly. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and eat balanced meals. Go for five-minute walks two to three times a day.
  • Implement periodic stand-up meetings. Much of what’s achieved in a one-hour meeting can be handled in 15-to-30 minute gatherings where everyone stands. This keeps people on track and focused on resolving key issues quickly.

Work-life balance involves more than time management. Leaders must recognize the need to slow down, enjoy life, and replenish their energy supply daily. Having a balanced life takes into account all your needs, including family, friends, work, play, private time, exercise, and spiritual time. It’s a matter of getting your priorities straight.

We often say we’re working long hours for our families, but if we ask our families they’ll say they would like to have us around more. Think about the impact you have on your family by working long hours. Then take a few minutes out of your busy day and try to figure out how to cut back and rearrange your priorities.

The key to achieving a balanced life is building it into your schedule like anything else and then making it a habit. Start by making an action plan: Look at your schedule two to three weeks in advance and block out time for things you enjoy doing and people you enjoy being with. It takes discipline to do this, and discipline is what leaders have.

Making a commitment to work-life balance makes leaders more productive and better prepared to handle the daily tasks, while providing the time to enjoy life.

Jeff Wolf is the author of the international best-seller Seven Disciplines of a Leader. 

A dynamic speaker and highly requested executive coach he was named one of the country’s top 100 thought leaders for his accomplishments in leadership development and managerial effectiveness. 

 He may be reached at 858-638-8260 or jeff@wolfmotivation.com 

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5 Powerful Lessons I Share As An Executive Coach

by Jeff Wolf

Time to read: 1 minute

1. Leaders DO Make a Difference

An organization’s fate is determined by the quality of its leadership. Good leaders can take a faltering business and turn it into an innovative powerhouse. By the same token, mediocre leaders can run even world-class brands into the ground. We’ve seen enough examples of both scenarios to know they really happen yet many leaders don’t understand how to emulate the success stories and avoid the cautionary tales. 

2. It’s All About People

How do workplaces create an engaged workforce of employees who do excellent work because they want to? Leaders need to motivate their people and teams to achieve peak performances, teamwork and personal satisfaction. 

3. The Most Productive Organizations Are the Result of High-Performance Teams

Strong teams drive organizational success, and the most productive organizations are those that have strong, high performing teams of people working together to produce extraordinary results. When you combine ideas, talents, personalities and abilities together to complement one another, the outcome is an unbelievable success story.

4. It’s a VUCA World Out There…and Leaders Need 3 Specific Skills to Thrive

We are living in a VUCA world…volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. In order for organizations to remain competitive, leaders have to be flexible, adaptable and agile. They have to be responsible for driving change and innovation throughout the organization for current and future success.

5. The Most Effective Leaders Are Coaches

When leaders master the art of coaching, their direct reports become highly engaged, loyal to the organization, enthusiastic for the work they do and stay with the company. Coaching is a skill to be embraced as a superior management tool. Effective coaching ultimately reduces turnover and improves productivity.

Jeff Wolf is the author of the international best-seller Seven Disciplines of a Leader.

A dynamic speaker and highly sought after executive coach, Jeff was named one of the country’s top 100 thought leaders for his accomplishments in leadership development and managerial effectiveness.

Get in touch with Jeff at 858-638-8260 or jeff@wolfmotivation.com

Leaders and Communication

By Jeff Wolf

Time to read: 1 minute

A major leadership issue is information sharing, keeping people in the loop so they can perform their jobs efficiently.  I always say, “Communicate, communicate, communicate, communicate…and then communicate even more”! You must have open lines of communication up and down all levels of the organization. I believe in the KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid or keep it short and sweet).  Simple things move through an organization faster, eliminate clutter, and reflect greater clarity.

When communicating, leaders must use different formats to get their message across: newsletters, emails, one-on-one or group meetings, and town halls.  The most important goal is clarity.  Often, leaders know what they want to communicate, but they fail to communicate clearly.  When speaking, our tone of voice or inflection may have different meanings to different people from diverse backgrounds and levels of experience. As such, it’s incumbent upon leaders to communicate in a way that’s clearly understood, without confusion, ambiguity, or misinterpretation.

Poor communication is one reason so many executives fail.  Think carefully about how you express yourself, and develop a communication plan. How you communicate with people will vary, depending on the recipients and their positions in the organization, the parts of the initiative you want to share with them, and the timing of the communication.

Leaders and organizations can never take communication for granted; they need to think of it as a product.  This requires them to take an occasional communication inventory: looking at all current channels, vehicles, systems, and networks to find out who communicates to whom.  Then, analyze the communication system and make it as effective as you would any other system in the organization.

 

Jeff Wolf is the author of the international best-sellerSeven Disciplines of a Leader.

A dynamic speakerand highly requested executive coachhe was named one of the country’s top 100 thought leaders for his accomplishments in leadership development and managerial effectiveness.

He may be reached at 858-638-8260 or jeff@wolfmotivation.com

A Leadership Success Story

By Jeff Wolf

Time to read: 2 minutes

Alfredo, a native-born Italian, was senior vice president and general manager for a plastics extrusion company in Rimini, Italy, a division of a U.S.-owned multinational plastics company.  Alfredo had taken an operation on the verge of collapse and turned it around into a highly profitable venture, thus becoming a star performer in the eyes of the company’s leaders. He was promoted to executive vice president and brought to the States.

Alfredo faced a similar situation in his new job.  The company was going through a bad period: worldwide sales had flattened, costs had risen beyond expectations, profits had tumbled, and employee disengagement was at a peak.  The performance of company managers and workers had plummeted as everybody was afraid of what the future held.

Then suddenly, the CEO died from a heart attack, and the board appointed Alfredo as interim CEO to fill the void and prevent panic.  Alfredo rose to the challenge. Using the principles espoused in our Leadership Development Program, he took these steps:

First, Alfredo insisted on absolute integrity from himself and the employees of his company.  He set the example by telling the truth, even when it hurt (as it so often does when prior leaders concealed unpleasant truths), and he “walked the walk.”

He focused his attention on the people who worked for him, and on managers, supervisors, and workers – everyone.  Alfredo understood that great things can only be accomplished by great people, and he set an example that earned the trust of the people in his company.

He knew where he wanted to bring the company and he clearly articulated his visionand ensured that every employee in the company, from workers on the firing line right through his executive staff, understood what their roles were.

Knowing that capable employees leave the company when they lose faith in their leaders, he conducted assessments that enabled every employee to be heard. Alfredo went to great pains to listen to employees and assure that problems hindering them were corrected.

Alfredo realized that constant training and learning better ways to achieve his goals were key to not falling behind his company’s competition, and he extended that philosophy to the rest of the organization by implementing training programsfor employees, both in hard and soft skills.

Alfredo personally coachedhis direct reports to help them overcome obstacles and improve their leadership abilities.  He also assured that high potential leaders throughout the company were identified and received personal coaching. He understood that the company’s life-blood and future was invested in high potential leaders and that he could lose them if they didn’t receive the grooming they needed and deserved.

He went out of his way to ensure that employees worked in an environment that encouraged people not only to work hard but to enjoy what they were doing. Accordingly, he appointed two CFO’s, the traditional chief financial officer and a chief fun officer whose duty was to create ways for employees to have fun at work.

Within a few months of Alfredo taking the helm of the parent company, improvements were noticeable across the board in every function of the company. By the end of the year, the company’s fortunes had improved dramatically.

 

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Jeff Wolfis the author of the international best-seller Seven Disciplines of a Leader.

A dynamic speakerand highly requested executive coachhe was named one of the country’s top 100 thought leaders for his accomplishments in leadership development and managerial effectiveness.

Contact Jeff today for your coaching needsor to speak at your next meeting or conference.

If you want your leaders to be great coaches, his program, Be a Great Coach, is now available at your location.

He may be reached at 858-638-8260 or jeff@wolfmotivation.com