What does Agility have to do with Work / Life Balance?
I found 3 things have helped me –
Earlier this year, I attended the SIM Women of Colorado conference, with nearly 400 other female IT leaders. I was honored to participate as a panelist alongside seasoned executives with experience and tenure, and the first question to panelists was not a new one: “How do you balance your work life with your personal life?“
1. Start with Awareness
Early in my career I was eager to show my ability, earn praise of my boss and colleagues, and help the company. I focused on pleasing others. Although I was constantly overextended, I learned how to cope with it because I thought it was part of being a successful leader. In fact, traditional management rewards the ‘always on’ and ‘do more’ behaviors. My problem, and that of many traditional managers, was that striving to do too much led to a constant feeling of burnout. At times, I even felt resentful of colleagues who didn’t appear to be shouldering the same workload or stress levels.
What I learned from this situation is that I was the problem. I was teaching people that my time was not as important to me as theirs. I was training them to expect that I would do anything for the company, even at the expense of time with my spouse, my family, and my health.
A fellow coach and colleague once told me, “No one will respect you more than you respect yourself”, and he was right. Agile leadership focuses on being aware of your situation and making choices about how you react and respond. Becoming aware of the consequences of my behavior allowed me to make better choices about how I spent my time and where I set my boundaries. AWARENESS precedes CHOICE, and CHOICE precedes, CHANGE…
2. Take Small Steps
After becoming aware of my need for boundaries, my next step toward adding a little balance back into my life started with carving out time for me. “ME TIME” is protected and cannot be compromised. I set aside about an hour and a half every morning, before my workday starts, to do whatever I want—it’s like putting on my own oxygen mask before helping others. Most of this time is spent stretching, exercising, meditating, and praying, because this is what helps me be productive and effective during the rest of my day. While it’s easy to over-bias focusing on helping other people, I’ve learned that Agile Leaders take care of themselves first, so they have the capacity to help others in the organization.
3. Let Go
The third thing that has really helped me create better balance in my life is the idea of letting go. I credit my own personal coach with helping me get my head around the concept that letting go doesn’t mean choosing not to care. Rather, letting go is about realizing that the only thing you can really control is yourself.
Agile leadership actively invites other perspectives and supports others to take the lead. For example, I have realized that my role as a leadership coach is not to be the expert in the room, or the go-to person for all the answers. Instead, it’s about sharing and co-creating with others, helping them learn and grow. I’ve found this to be way more rewarding, both for me and for clients.
Are you struggling with work / life balance? Are you neglecting your own oxygen mask, to the detriment of your company?
To be effective and accountable in complex, rapidly changing environments, and in a sustainable way-
Join us at Women in Agile Leadership retreat February 25-27, 2020 in Boulder, Colorado