What’s the Right Work/Life Balance for Leaders?
Last week I got an email from a friend. She’s a passionate, visionary leader and a committed, loving mom. Her email said this, “Last night I cancelled a work dinner because my daughter needs me at home. She’s having a hard time. I have another work dinner this week that I don’t want to cancel. Am I a terrible mom?”
I struggle with this question almost daily. What’s the right balance of my time, attention and energy? When more is going toward my professional life, I feel like, in some way, I’m letting my family down and when the energy flips, I worry I’m neglecting important people or priorities at work. It’s like a teeter-totter that I’m perpetually trying to make sure doesn’t have too much weight on one side.
From years of visiting and revisiting the question, “What’s the right work/life balance?” I’ve realized that this polarity or tension is not solvable. There is no right answer. I’ve watched high-level leaders take leaves of absence when their kids needed them home and I’ve also seen amazing moms and dads get on flight after flight leaving their families in the capable hands of their spouse or support team while they focused on professional commitments. It seems the only right answer to, “What’s the right work/life balance” is whatever is right, right now.
If you’re a parent and a leader I’m curious,
What helps you prioritize where to put your time and energy at any given time?
What helps you be successful in both roles?