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Work-Life Balance: CEOs Share Perspectives On Balance
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Work-Life Balance: CEOs Share Perspectives On Balance - Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: CEOs Share Perspectives On Balance

Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: CEOs Share Perspectives On Balance

Work-life balance is “the shared responsibility of the individual and the company,” says VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger in a Wall Street Journal article. In order to model it for his employees, he and his family have developed a points system, with a running score kept by his secretary on a chart he created. Arriving home by 6:15 gets him one point, while getting there by 5:00 is worth two. Work-life balance may be an ever-elusive ideal, but here is one executive—an engineer—who has figured out a way to quantify it in a meaningful way for his family. While we can agree that balance is different things to different people, the value of a company’s leadership by example can be powerful: visibly assigning balance a high priority decreases the pressure on everyone else to burn the midnight oil.

Gelsinger’s chart serves as a good symbol for the entire concept of balance. There may be stretches where we pile on the points, and there may be periods where it’s a struggle to get even a few points, but we often need the support of those around us, and most of us need to be reminded that it’s a never-ending tug-o-war. Balance is not something achieved once—it needs to be maintained and regained because the complexities of life seldom let us stay in one comfortable place. Ramona Faith, the CEO of a healthcare organization, tells the North Bay Business Journal that “work-life balance continues to be a struggle, and it is something on which I am working. I try to calendar a block of time every two weeks to reflect on strategy and direction.” One executive’s daily score is the tree view, while another’s two-week evaluation is a slightly wider view. An everyday struggle, a biweekly strategy—the most successful of us keep an eye on the pixels and on the larger image as well.

Whether our descriptors look at twenty-four hour tallies or fourteen-day trends, time is often not only the regulated factor but the regulating factor. Many CEOs admit their balance wasn’t very good in earlier years, citing regrets about missed baseball games or not enough time with loved ones before it was too late. Humana CEO Bruce Broussard told graduates at a Georgetown University commencement that it wasn’t until a car accident took his mother that he realized the importance of balance, according to the Hoya, Georgetown’s student paper. Broussard compares balance to maintaining an entire garden: you can use all your water in caring for one plant, but the cost to the rest of the garden is unhealthy.

The same Wall Street Journal article makes it clear that this is not an easy issue. Several CEOs share that they didn’t get to be where they are without putting in a lot of time. Some say it’s a necessary choice, that spouses often understand the sacrifices, and that there’s no looking back. It can be a bleak picture, and although it’s not our place to put a judgment on anyone’s choices, the critical word here is “choice.” The power couple working for firms in different parts of the country and sharing only weekends together is making a choice; the executive getting home for family time and then driving back to the office when the kids have been put to bed is making a choice; the leader giving up his facetime in the office for more time on third-grade field trips is making a choice. And balance, however one defines it, is about making those choices, evaluating the results and consequences, and adjusting for desired outcomes. As company leaders take advantage of the freedom to make those choices, they can also enable and encourage their employees to make choices according to their own priorities.

Reference Links:
Wall Street Journal: http://www.wsj.com/articles/male-ceos-tell-us-their-work-life-rules-1465896602
North Bay Business Journal: http://www.northbaybusinessjournal.com/industrynews/healthcare/5758451-181/ramona-faith-petaluma-health-care-district
GeekWire: http://www.geekwire.com/2016/working-geek-code-fellows-ceo-dave-parker-shifting-career-goals-productivity-work-life-balance/
The Hoya: http://www.thehoya.com/broussard-encourages-work-life-balance-care-for-others-at-msb-commencement/


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Work-Life Balance: CEOs Share Perspectives On Balance - Executive Leadership Articles

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