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5 Ways Leaders Can Create A Work-Life Balance For Their Team

08.18.14   |   Job Search & Career   |   Dan Fantasia, CEO at Treeline, Inc.

The difference between a boss and a leaderWe hear it all the time. Work-life balance is important. Companies are finding that in order to stay competitive and attract top talent, they need to offer an environment that truly values their employees. People are looking to work for companies that offer a strong work-life balance meaning they can work in a place that offers the opportunity to be successful and grow without having to work seven days a week.

So yes, work-life balance is important, but what does it really mean and what does it look like?

Strong leaders recognize that in order to sustain a healthy work environment they must focus on the needs of their team.  They must manage the entire team as well as holding themselves accountable, meaning that they must hold themselves to the same expectations as their team.  So how do leaders implement work-life balance while also creating a strong sales organization? Here are 5 ways to develop a strong credible work-life foundation while building a successful company.

1.Reciprocate and Hold Yourself To The Same Standards

As a leader you have high expectations of your staff, so you should also have the same expectations of yourself. You may expect your team to be in on time every morning, dress professionally and not go over their vacation days, which is fine, but are you holding yourself to the same standards? When you call an employee you expect them to pick up, when you schedule a meeting you expect everyone to be on time and when you send an email you expect an instant reply.  Now ask yourself, do you reply to an email immediately, do you show up late for meetings, do you answer the phone immediately from all staff members? If you can’t answer these questions with 100% confidence, then you may be losing credibility with your staff.  You will lose credibility because your team knows what you expect of them but you do not reciprocate the same rules when working with them. A strong leader reciprocates respect and makes sure everyone (including themselves) is held accountable. By holding yourself accountable to the same standards, you build trust. When your team sees you work hard, they will want to work hard.

2.Make Time For Office Fun

What is important to your team may not be important to you, but it is your job to create a work culture that your team enjoys and appreciates.  Work-life balance means employees can enjoy both work and life and sustain a happy medium between both.  Happy is the key word here.  Happy employees are healthy employees and healthy employees build momentum, inspire and energize others.  This supports the health and longevity of the organization and builds successful brands.  So what exactly is a fun office?  If you think you know, then you’ve made your first mistake.  Fun is not about the leader, fun is about the team.  Ask them what is important to them and then participate.  And make sure you are involved in the activities because without participation the real message is that fun is not okay.  For example, in the summer months if you implement casual Friday’s make sure you join in. This may not be important to you, but something your team enjoys. When you participate, you make the fun real and create a sense of unity with your employees.

3.Listen, Listen, Listen

Be a great listener.  Great leaders know why people work for them.  They understand the needs of their employees and work to fulfill those needs. This does not mean give your team anything they want, this means understand your team and their way of thinking about the work they do.  Be generous with praise and understand what motivates your team.  Learn what perks support the correct desired behavior of your team. The excerpt below is from a great book “How To Win Friends And Influence People” that everyone should read and shows how leaders can be “leaders” without being “bosses.”

* “Charles Schwab was passing through one of his steel mills one day at noon when he came across some of his employees smoking.  Immediately above their heads was a sign that said NO SMOKING.  Did Schwab point to the sign and say, “Can’t you read?”  Oh, no not Schwab.  He walked over to the men, handed each one a cigar, and said, “I’ll appreciate it, boys, if you will smoke these on the outside.”  They knew that he knew that they had broken a rule – and they admired him because he said nothing about it and gave them a little present and made them feel important.  Couldn’t keep from loving a man like that could you?”

4.Have A Positive Attitude…Even When Times Are Tough

Great leaders are uplifting and positive.  They bring endless enthusiasm to their work and teach others to do the same. Having a positive attitude 365 days per year takes effort and is hard work. It seems impossible but can be accomplished by even starting each day with a smile and positive “Good Morning.”  When looking for inspirations, sometimes it helps to read from the experience of others. Two of my favorites are “Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos) and “FISH” by Stephen Lundin and John Christensen.  Both are well worth while and help bring you back to a positive mindset.

5.Understand You May Have To Sacrifice

Being in a position of leadership entails sacrifice and compromise. All great leaders have great sacrifice, but the key is that this sacrifice can never turn to resentment.  Remember, you signed up for this and can never be frustrated by those around you who will never understand how many sacrifices you have had to make to become a leader.  To be great you will continue to sacrifice and continue to make sure those on your team get a great leader.  Trustworthy and credible leaders are hard to find and this is why it is so important that you do it right. 

Establishing work-life balance can be both hard and rewarding. Your team may never truly be aware of your own struggles to make it possible, but it doesn’t mean they won’t recognize and appreciate the benefits they enjoy. In the end if leaders can accomplish creating a positive office culture and sustain a strong work-life balance, and your team is hitting and exceeding goals, you have ultimately achieved your own goal. By your team working hard to hit their quota and helping the company grow, you have created a sustainable work environment and one where your employees will want to invest in. It’s important to remember that happy employees are healthy employees and healthy employees help your company continue to build brand. Stay positive and remember work-life balance is real and is important.

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