There seems to be a misconception in society that leads us to believe that if you want to make it to the top, if you want to be CEO of a company, you need to dedicate your life to working. As the internet and technology made their way into our homes and jobs, our culture evolved to expect continuous interaction and connectivity creating a blurred line between work and home. Regrettably, the idea of a work-life balance is seemingly lost to the new culture of 24/7 interaction. However, it doesn’t have to be.
As a CEO, you get to lead the charge for an organization as a whole, and that includes setting an example of how employees should balance their professional life and personal. By implementing balance between the two, a CEO can learn strategies for making the balance easier for employees. Rather than viewing work and personal life as two separate things, look at them harmoniously to find the best way to fit them together. In an interview with Business Insider, Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, said, “[A work-life balance] is a debilitating phrase because it implies there is a strict trade-off.”
GM CEO Mary Barra says she prefers to schedule business meetings over lunch rather than dinner, in efforts to prioritize her after-hours for family commitments. Mary told the Wall Street Journal that she begins the meeting by announcing when she will be leaving if meetings occur later in the day. This allows her to get her work done efficiently, and to get to her child’s extracurricular activities.
Creating a positive work-life balance as an employee impacts more than just a CEO’s day. Not only does it impact your friends, family, and your personal passions, but it also provides an example to those who might think you have to give everything else up for your position.
EY CEO, Mark Weinberger, shared his family-focused approach to work-life balance with Time. He was in China for a meeting, in which he gave a speech. Afterwards he was asked if he would be taking selfies with his employees to which he replied no because he had to get home to take his daughter for her driving test the following day. In response to this, Mark received hundreds of emails; no one mentioned his speech, instead they applauded him for being there for his daughter.
Mr. Weinberger told Time, “It brought home to me how powerful leading by example is. You can have all the initiative you want saying you can have flexibility, but until some of the real leaders make the choice to choose family, I don’t think people feel like they have real permission to do it.”
It is important to note that not all people have the same expectations for their work life and personal life. Every person will have their own unique take as to what a work-life balance means to them and how to implement it. Some may want to spend time at home with their families, while others may be determined to climb the ladder. Weebly CFO, Kim Jabal, says her secret to a work-life balance is professional and personal life integration and a flexible schedule. Whereas former Google CFO Patrick Pichette says life is a series of trade-offs, including business and personal endeavors. Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat says the key is to continuously shift your balance or integration based on the needs of your work and family.