Leading a balanced life is a critical aspect of performing well as a leader. There are two types of balance. We always think about work/life balance in terms of “how much time do I spend away from the office?”
But there’s another kind of balance I encourage you to think about. I call it work/work balance. We need a balance of work that we love to do to balance out the work that we don’t enjoy doing. If those ratios get out of balance, we’re going to be miserable at work. You probably spend more hours at the office than you do away from it with your friends and your family.
To achieve that work/work balance, you need to set boundaries because without boundaries, people are going to violate them all the time. You’re going to be upset, they’re going to be upset, and nobody’s going to know why. We need to draw those lines.
In terms of creating work/work balance, one of my maxims to remind me to set those boundaries, is “I’m going home. You’re doing my job.” That maxim reminds me of a situation where I had a boss who was a bit of a micro-manager.
He came in my office one day, very well intended, and got in front of my desk and said “Hey Mike, I want you to start thinking about this, and this, and this, and working on that.”
I wanted to stop him and say “I have this covered and…” but he kept going on, and on, and on.
He said “And think about this, and do that, and think about this project.” He simply wouldn’t stop.
I kept trying to interrupt, but I was unsuccessful in doing so. The reason I wanted to interrupt was behind him. I had a whiteboard on my wall. On that whiteboard was every project he was ticking off along with a status of it. As he was talking, I was ticking down that list and I just wanted to tell him that I had it covered. It became clear I wasn’t going to get my point across so I picked up my briefcase, put my laptop in it while he was still talking, and put my bag on my shoulder.
He had a moment of clarity where he said “What are you doing?”
I said “I’m going home, you’re doing my job.” He looked at me a bit puzzled. I said, “Turn around and look at the whiteboard.”
He turned around and he looked at the white board. He said “Okay, I get it.”
I said “Look, I love working for you. I love getting to do these projects but if you’re going to come in here and micromanage me, I’m not going to be satisfied with that work environment. Let me do the work. Also, this problem is my fault. I haven’t updated you well on the projects and I’ll try to do a better job on that going forward.”
I had a very good relationship with this boss so my smartassitude wasn’t really a career limiting move. But I drew a very firm boundary and said “For me to be satisfied with the work that I do, I need to have a certain amount of control and self-direction over that.”
As you think about your work, I’d like you to think about work that you love to do. What is it that is so special about it that you are really excited to go do it?
Think about work you don’t enjoy doing. How do you draw a balance between the good and bad work? How do you create a boundary between them to make sure that you’re still getting enough of the work you love to do to balance out the stuff that you’re less satisfied with?
Think about a situation where you were able to clarify that boundary for somebody and get more of the work you enjoy doing. That story about drawing that boundary is good fodder for developing your maxim on creating work/work balance.
If you’re able to then adhere to that maxim and communicate it to others, you’ll be much more satisfied with the work that you do.
Want to learn more about this topic? How about taking an entire course on it? Check out the video below to learn more about the course and get started. Or you can go directly to the course and start learning the Leadership Maxims method. The entire course is available at lynda.com. This lesson is in the Balanced Lifestyle section. Enjoy!
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