Even leaders need work-life balance

Leaders are not machines, but normal human beings who have reached a successful position through their own hard work and efforts. Therefore, they are also entitled to enjoy work-life balance.

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When we think of a CEO or CFO or any senior leader of an organisation, do we picture them with a cape or wings that can make them fly? Not really. We picture leaders as busy people, almost always on the phone, dressed in formal wear, seated in swanky cabins and drawing huge salaries. More often than not, we tend to focus on their attractive pay cheques and luxurious houses, which come to them at the cost of a lot of mental peace. Everyone, irrespective of the level they belong to in the organisational hierarchy, requires work-life balance. After all, each individual has a life beyond work and deserves the right to live it on his own terms. Even the lion, the king of the jungle, relaxes and soaks in the sun with his family. Then, why should it be any different for leaders? Are leaders expected to have super powers, simply because they occupy a higher rank in the hierarchy? Does being a leader make them any less human?

Balancing professional and personal life entails discovering meaningful life in the work, and focussing on outcome instead of the number of working hours, within stipulated timelines. 

Amit Das, CHRO, Bennett Coleman & Company

It is often taken for granted that leaders work day and night, are available 24×7, and can be reached at any hour, irrespective of time and place. The fact that they are human beings with families and that they too need personal space, is ignored. The pandemic led to people across all levels in organisations enjoying work from home, as it gave them a chance to make the work-life time schedule more flexible. According to Avadhesh Dixit, CHRO, Acuity Knowledge Partners, “For some, especially women, this remote-working phase may not have been very easy, but a majority of the people have been seen enjoying it. People were keen to work remotely with a balanced blend of work and life. However, when it comes to leaders, the fact is that in some cases, they enjoy the flexibility and autonomy to choose how and where to work. But they should also maintain a balance between work and life, because people look up to their attitude towards work.”

It is important to remember that when a crisis emerges, it is blind to the designations of people. Just like other employees, leaders also have families who require time and attention. They also require the right balance between work and life.

Reena Wahi, HR leader, Tata Realty and Infrastructure

Dixit further says, “Companies have to understand that people, irrespective of level, may have personal crises and emergencies, during which their friends and families may seek their time. For them to be able to approach their leaders without hesitation and ask for a break, it is highly advisable for the leaders  themselves to take breaks from work. An excess of the workaholic attitude in the leaders may leave the employees under pressure. If employees see leaders foregoing work-life balance because of professional commitments, it may become stressful for them at work. To inspire employees to maintain work-life balance, leaders should also maintain the same and lead by example. For the right productivity to come out, people need to be mentally stable, irrespective of the position that they hold in the company. Human beings have a composite lifestyle and that is how it should be maintained.”

With the growth of the remote-working model and work-life integration, employees have started valuing this work structure. People have realised that only an integration can create a balance between work and life. More the integration, better the flexibitlity to choose between work and family, when it comes to dividing the day. Elaborating this further, Amit Das, CHRO, Bennett Coleman & Company, says, “Irrespective of the levels in the organisational hierarchy, employees and leaders now feel the compelling need to embrace technological enablers to replace the traditional human support system, to transit into a work-life integration model. This entails discovering meaningful life in the work, and focussing on outcome instead of the number of working hours within stipulated timelines, to manage the balance between professional and personal life.”

In some cases, leaders enjoy the flexibility and autonomy to choose how and where to work. But they should also maintain a balance between work and life, because people look up to their attitude towards work.

Avadhesh Dixit, CHRO, Acuity Knowledge Partners

With regard to the work pressure of the leaders, Reena Wahi, human resources leader, Tata Realty and Infrastructure, has a different view. “Due to the sudden remote-working drive, the stress doubled for the leaders. They have been under huge pressure to restructure the workforce and deliver the expected on time, even while balancing the workforce and their family. The recent crisis has been a tough time for the leaders and the front-end managers. It is important to remember that when a crisis emerges, it is blind to the designations of people. Just like other employees, leaders also have families who require time and attention. Therefore, we have to remember that leaders also require the right balance between work and life,” explains Wahi.

On the way to attaining this balance, Wahi says, “Every leader needs to segregate things and prioritise them. The time boundaries have to be set and each day has to be divided accordingly. The tight time schedules demand a lot of self-work on the part of the leaders in order to attain work-life balance.”

The two ideas that the work structure of leaders seem to suggest are, that either they enjoy ultimate autonomy or they work 23 hours a day, both of which are extreme situations. Just as individuals need to earn a living for sustenance, they also need to have the right mental health to stay productive. Therefore, it is an undeniable fact that like all other employees of an organisation, leaders also require work-life balance and have the right to enjoy the same along with their families.

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