We all hear the message: “Don’t think work/life balance, think work/life integration.” This is interpreted to mean that you need to be available 24/7 to do what’s required for work, feathering personal activities between work priorities. At least this has become the expectation. And the possibility of 24/7 connectivity ushered in by the internet and mobile devices certainly makes this possible. So given this expectation, how can leaders attain effectiveness and satisfaction in their professional and personal lives? The answer to this question lies in understanding your personal motivators and how to leverage them.
As executive coaches and business advisers, we’ve worked with leaders for years. We’ve seen a consistent pattern: leaders need is a balance between energy driving and energy draining activities, and both of these types of activities exist at work and home. In fact, for certain individuals, time at work is mostly energy driving while time at home is largely energy draining. How is this possible?
It comes down to understanding your internal motivators. For example, if you require a high level of achievement, order, affiliation and cognitive structure, your work activities may be extremely energy driving and rewarding. In contrast, time at home where things can be chaotic, unstructured and where successes are not easily measured may be quite energy draining and stressful.
On the other hand, if you need to be nurtured, like to play and be sheltered from aggression, perhaps time at home is energy driving while time at work is energy draining. But perhaps not. A non-nurturing spouse, aggressive children and little time to play among the multitude of personal errand and responsibilities may be very energy draining. And your level of extroversion vs. introversion also fits into the equation of what drives and drains your energy.
If you want to help your leaders figure this out, the best approach is an assessment battery with feedback that helps them understand what drives and drains their energy and how to approach the issue of work/life integration in a way that maximizes both professional achievement and personal satisfaction. Complementing this self-awareness with coaching is also a good idea. In addition, introducing this concept with a leadership workshop that emphasizes self-awareness as well as sensitivity to the energy-driving needs of colleagues goes a long way to increasing business performance and improving you culture.