Work-life balance: How to set a good example

I’ve just been put in charge of creating our company’s new policies around flexible working. Ironically though, I have been working until 8pm some nights as I’m up to my eyes in other work. How can I set an example on good working policies when I’m still sat at my own desk long after everyone else has gone?

To quote the wise words of Ghandi: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” You are totally right; setting an example of good working policies begins with you. Taking the lead on work-life balance will involve changing your own behaviour first.

You now have an important leadership role that involves making flexible working successful in your organisation. By transforming the way people work in your company, you will be influencing many people’s lives for the better.

True leadership has freshness, lightness, creativity and freedom to it, and tapping into this spirit of positive energy will be your own starting point in sustaining a sensible work-life balance. It is imperative you create a strong sense of purpose about what you want to achieve in introducing your new policies, and hold this vision out for yourself as well as your colleagues.

If you are serious about making a stand for flexible working, ensure that you role model it yourself by doing the following: 

  • Create a compelling vision of what ‘good’ looks like for your own work-life balance.

  • Be aware of the benefits to you, your colleagues, friends and family of working more flexibly and enjoying a healthy work life.

  • Be honest with yourself about what poor work-life balance is really costing you. What pain is it causing you, your colleagues and friends and your family?

  • Ask yourself: what are you afraid of? What are you reluctant to let go of? Be courageous and address these issues.

  • Decide what immediate, specific actions you are willing to take to start moving towards a better quality of work life. Do not commit to more than three, and make sure you choose ones that you know you will follow through.

  • If one of your chosen actions is to say no to certain things, or to delegate more effectively to others, then remember saying no positively is a great confidence builder. If you never say no, then ask yourself: what is my ‘yes’ worth?

  • Set up your own support systems and hold yourself accountable to someone to ensure you take action on a regular basis.

  • Reinforce the changes you make by rewarding your successes.

Good luck. And remember that you will be making a significant difference to many lives.

By Carole Gaskell, founder and managing director, Full Potential Group

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