Christina’s work eats an unhealthy portion of her life. The past 20 years she intensely pursued her career. More recently she carried a heavy load with a start-up of epic proportion.
The cost? It’s taken a toll on her relationships and leadership … yes, conflict and unnecessary stress. The demand and pace squeeze out self-limiting behaviors that have minimized trust, disengaged the team, and created frustration.
Business eats people
The nature of business is to consume – not right or wrong – just the nature of business, which includes eating people. Business consumes, produces, exports, depletes the inventory … and then, asks for more. One leadership function is to determine how much of an employee’s life is consumed to do business. That leader is you.
As a self-managed leader, you stand at the mouth of the “beast” (no judgment, just descriptive) and must determine how much of your time, your energy, your creativity, and your life you will feed it. Whether you are an entrepreneur, small business owner, frontline worker, new manager, middle manager, vice president, or CEO … How much will you feed the beast?
The beast likes to snack and technology makes it easy. Yes, this is about drawing boundaries … a line between work and personal time, family, recreation and rest? To stay engaged requires life harmony (the new work-life balance.) Setting work boundaries is critical to engagement, as reported in a recent Harvard Business Review article entitled “Using a Smartphone after 9 pm Leaves Workers Disengaged.”
Smartphones fit work activity into life outside the workplace. Easy access to email, the web, video conference calls, webinars, text messaging – even old-fashioned voice calls – all allow work to be done anywhere, anytime. How much work has invaded your non-work hours?
To stay engaged and productive research indicates we need space …
This greater connectivity comes at a cost: using a smartphone to cram more work into a given evening results in less work done the next day. The reason for this … is that smartphones are bad for sleep, and sleep is very important to effectiveness.
…that a well-rested employee is a better employee is well established by research. To note just a few recent studies, insufficient sleep has been linked to more unethical behavior at work, cyberloafing, and work injuries, and less organizational citizenship behavior.
Predictable time off
Considering the research and the undesirable outcomes of insufficient sleep, how you are you doing? How well to you create space for life outside of work? When do you create space for reflective thinking? How committed are you to taking time off? Where are your boundaries? Simply put, what’s your bedtime?
It was a new experience for Christian, she “took advantage” of days off at Christmas. Returning to work she noticed a difference in her perspective, the reward of “time off.” To pursue greater life harmony, she committed to the following:
- Daily appointment – for 30 minutes the door is shut, devices muted, a little music is added, and she creates space to think
- Business hours – she is leaving the office at a reasonable time to go home
- Disconnecting – she does not log on and work from home during the evening, unless it’s an emergency
- Time off – she plans to enjoy days off in 2014
For you to think about:
- If you establish predictable time off, what would that look like in your story?
- How is your sleep affected by your work habits? Load? What can you do about it?
- What boundaries do you need to set up?
Here’s to your breakthrough in 2014,
Smile. Think. Be present …
Next Generation Leaders 2014 – Tulsa
Most businesses expect employees to turn into leaders with a title. They load them up with responsibilities and a diverse team of people to manage. Conflicts arise. Pressure builds. People leave. Managers crumble. Those who navigate their way to success seem to have leadership planted in them at birth.
But the study of truly effective leaders reveals that leaders learn to lead. Their success depends on whether or not they become self-managed.
Next Generation Leaders turns employees into self-managed teams and leaders,
Get more details on Team-Based Coaching.
Photo credit: Ian Britton via Compfight