On a coaching call this past December with one of my clients, we were discussing his 2014 goals for his business. He is a successful business owner and leader, very much a Type A personality, works long and hard, and loves his family. Our coaching session was fairly straight forward until he mentioned one of his 2014 goals. He told me that he wanted to be home by 6:30pm each night. He went on to say, jokingly, that if he got home at 6:30pm that night, his family would not recognize him. A red flag went up in my mind. I asked when he typically got home. His answer – somewhere between 8 and 9 at night. He worked 12 to 14 hour days, five to six days a week. He had been doing this for the last 8 years.
His type of personality is marked by drive, achievement, hard work, getting up at ungodly hours to do things like exercising or planning, and the like. In fact, Type A personalities thrive on this kind of work. It is a bit of an adrenaline rush. I get that. However, I reminded him that everything has a cost.
When you work 12 to 14 hours a day, there is a cost you pay. If you have a family or close friendships, they pay a cost, namely, your absence. Up to this point, my client had been willing to pay this cost – whether he thought about it or not.
I asked if he was willing to pay the cost the other way. If he paid the cost to reach the level of success he wanted in terms of hours worked, was he willing to pay the cost of not working as many hours? The cost in this case is not being as successful as he may think he should be (or what our culture tells us success should be). The cost may be slower growth. The cost may be taking three to five years to achieve his goals instead one to two years to achieve those same goals. The cost may be driving a Lexus instead of a BMW.
In our role as a leader, long hours can sometimes be part of the job. Personally, I don’t believe to be an effective leader you must work 12 to 14 hour days. If we lead our teams well, delegate where we should, and empower our teams, there is no reason why we can’t work productively at 45 to 50 hours a week. This also promotes focus, productivity, and trust in you as a leader. Think about it from the perspective of verbal expectations and non-verbal expectations. You tell your team how important it is to have work/life balance and to make time for their family. Yet, at the same time, they see your work/life balance completely out of whack, and you spending more time behind your desk than at home. You say one thing, but your actions speak to something else. Which do you think your team will follow? Have you ever worked in a place that had “unspoken” rules that were contradictory to the values statement hanging in the company lobby? Those unspoken rules come from the leader. The life the leader lives and the pace at which they work, sets the expectation. Everything has a cost. What is the cost to you or your team for the way you work and lead?
In January, I had a follow up call with my client who wanted to be home at a certain time of day. He sent me his 2014 business plan in advance of our call. Interestingly, in his plan he included the goal of getting home at 6:30pm. His motivator was his 13 year old daughter. As he put it, his daughter would not be in the house much longer and he wanted to be there for her. He adjusted his growth goals for his business as well as adjusting his mindset regarding success and achievement. He was willing to pay the cost for this new goal.
You have paid a cost for where you are in your business and professional career. Has it been worth it? Do you need to reassess your goals? Are you willing to pay the cost on the opposite side of the “success” spectrum to achieve a new goal?