The challenge of work-life balance is one of perspective and mindset. In order to change the way we work, we must change the way we think. To achieve balance we must think like a leader, not like a doer. We also need to keep our eye on our purpose… our “Why”.
Entrepreneurs tend to be very good at what they do. Therein is the problem. Leading and succeeding through others is a new skill. They like to stick with a winning behavior so they often fall back on doing. Before learning how to win as a leader, there are often hard lessons and failures. Those experiences tempt the leader to revert to working IN the business where things turn out better in their mind. Instead of trusting others who can't perform as well and might let them down, they fall back into doing it themselves and rationalize that it's the only way to win. "I have no one to delegate to", they tell themselves and are destined to repeat the wrong choices.
Other contributing factors may be a poor business model with low margins and insufficient working capital and manpower. Perhaps poor family relationships also make it convenient to excuse long work days because of the stresses awaiting them at home, so they avoid it. Some have no sense of mission or purpose. Someone said that being “busy” is the badge of honor among entrepreneurs. To not appear busy is to not be honorable. Regardless of root causes, there is no easy way out.
These hard steps need to be followed if things are to change:
Build a team of competent players
Communicate the mission and vision and offer a clear purpose
Assign appropriate roles and responsibilities
Get the team all working in unity, aligned in the same direction
Train the players
Trust the players. Give them a challenge and freedom to perform and succeed
Support the team and provide resources to win
Begin the process of investing in the team and working ON the business
Once this work is done and the load is appropriately spread among the team, the leader can leave the business in capable hands. Work-life balance can finally emerge.
This transition will probably not happen in a vacuum just because the leader wants it to. A coach or mentor and best practices modeled by peers will help the leader to see what is needed and what to do next, along with the courage to take the difficult path of leading for a change. For the Christian business leader, I recommend they join Convene, where all of this can take place. A team, a coach/mentor, tools, and training make it likely to happen.
If you want to learn more about how to find a better work-life balance, or are interested in ongoing business and leadership skill-development, consider joining a Convene Peer Advisory Group.
You can also learn more about work-life balance in this Convene White Paper, Moving from Working IN the Business to Working ON the Business.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff was President of Aerochem, a $30 million aerospace chemical milling company in Southern California and was also General Manager of the consolidated divisions of Ducommun AeroStructures, a $105 million entity before becoming a Chair for Convene. His many years managing in challenging conditions gives him a deep toolbox from which to help clients eager to gain answers about improving their company’s performance.