Manage Your Life, Manage Your Work
The article ‘Manage Your Work, Manage Your Life’ gives insights into how today’s senior executives strive to balance work/life. Through five years of interviews with almost 4000 executives worldwide, conducted by students at Harvard Business School, they have found that leaders who carefully manage their own human capital by making deliberate choices, maintain a higher degree of satisfaction professionally and personally. Their stories and advice reflect five main themes: defining success for yourself, managing technology, building support networks at work and at home, traveling or relocating selectively, and collaborating with your partner.
Manage Your Life, Manage Your Work
A lot of today’s senior executives feel they can’t achieve balance through constant juggling, which prevents them from engaging meaningfully either at work or at home. However, by making deliberate choices about which opportunities they will pursue and which they will decline, leaders can and do engage meaningfully with work and family. Managing yourself, technology, networks, travel and complementary relationships are key in achieving work/life balance.
Defining Success for Yourself
Leading a deliberate life starts with defining what success means to you. Executives’ definitions of professional and personal success run a gamut from the tactical to the conceptual and vary between men and women. In their definitions of professional success, executives highlight the following elements: individual achievement, making a difference, working with a good team in a good environment, respect from others, passion for the work, and ongoing learning & development challenges. On the other hand, personal success means rewarding relationships, enjoyment, a life of meaning, work/life balance, and learning and development.
Deciding when, where and how to be accessible for work is an ongoing challenge, particularly for executives with families. It is critical to corral e-mails, text messages, voice mail and other communications.
Building Support Networks
Senior executives insisted that managing family and professional life requires a strong network of behind-the-scenes supporters. Paid help or assistance from extended family is seen as a necessity. In addition, emotional support is equally important: being able to ventilate when dealing with irritating work, searching for a fresh perspective on a problem, looking for a sounding board…
Traveling or Relocating Selectively
In deciding whether to travel or to relocate, executives’ home lives play a crucial role. That is why many of them believe in acquiring global experience and racking up travel miles while they are young.
Collaborating with Your Partner
Executives say that their partners and spouses share their vision of success, bring complementary skills and provide the following types of support: emotional support, accepting career demands, practical help, career or business advice, and willingness to relocate.
Although we can’t predict what the workplace or the family will look like later in this century, or how the two institutions will coexist, we can assert three simple truths: Life happens and you can’t guarantee complete control; there are multiple routes to success; and no one can do it alone!
Boris Groysberg is a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and the author (with Michael Slind) of Talk, Inc. (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012).
Robin Abrahams is a research associate at Harvard Business School.