Integrating our lives is one of the greatest challenges that leaders face. To lead a balanced life, we need to bring together all of its constituent elements—work, family, community, and friends—so that we can be the same person in each environment. Authentic leaders are constantly aware of the importance of staying grounded. Besides spending time with our families and close friends, we get physical exercise, engage in spiritual practices and do community service. All are essential to our effectiveness as leaders.
Not only is our leadership enhanced, but also, according to Deloitte’s Touche Toshmatsu Limited (Deloitte), a professional services consulting business, flexible workplaces are good for businesses and the economy. Deloitte estimated that implementing flexible work arrangements in 2003 resulted in savings of $41.5 million in reduced turnover costs for their company.1 Flex programs in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Australia have not caused decreased profits or unmet customer demand, according to a survey of employers who have implemented these programs.2
In periods of change, an authentic leader will consider the impact to her own health and wellness and to that of her team. For example, in the midst of a stretch of long hours and hard work, such a leader may suggest a break, day off, or arrange for a healthy meal in order to rejuvenate and revitalize team members.
Leading is high-stress work. The higher we go, the greater our freedom to control our destiny but also the higher the degree of stress. The question is not whether we can avoid stress but how we can control it to maintain our own sense of equilibrium so that we can show up as effectively as possible to our work. Striving for balance is the way to do that.
1 Corporate Voices for Working Families, “Innovative Workplace Flexibility Options for Hourly Workers” (Washington, DC: Corporate Voices for Working Families, 2009).
2 Antonie Boessenkool and Ariane Hegewisch, “Working Time for Working Families: Europe and the United States” (Washington: American University Washington College of Law, 2004).
Colleen Slaughter, Proud Executive Coach to the UN World Food Program, the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Winner
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