Whether you're at the head of a Fortune 500 company or you're at the helm of your own 12-person ship that you labored over and built from the ground up, the many perks of being the boss are often only equal to the challenges. Being in charge, in many ways, can function like a double-edged sword.
Sure it's nice to do things you way, but that also means you're always on the clock. Yes, it's great being able to have the final say in matters, but when things don't go well, you're the one the board will blame.
There's no such thing as an easy path when it comes to negotiating all that tricky terrain, but there are ways to manage the responsibility you shoulder with the balance you need to survive the pressure. Here are five tips for the woman in charge whose quest to have it all includes some balance.
1. Double Down
Occasionally, the need to restore balance when you're in charge doesn't look the way you might expect it to: Instead of taking time off to rest, breathe, and remember you're not a machine, you may actually need to dig in more, work harder, and remember your strength. Especially in those times that you find yourself full of doubt about your ability to lead — and you're still convinced you want to do so — it's often best to just double down.
Take the next step to advance your career and company. Get a doctorate in leadership. Seek out a mentor, and have her help you get to work on your weaknesses and put your doubts in perspective. In whatever way you can, throw yourself into being a better leader. It will provide a counterweight to the doubt, which will help you restore the balance you need to keep doing your work.
2. Get Your Mind Right
An inflexible mind isn't just the mark of a weak leader; it's the mark of a weak person. Setting your mind to the tasks in front of you is essential if you're going to succeed, and the tasks in front of you will — and should — shift in relation to your priorities. Allowing them to do so will help you stay balanced.
Give in to the idea that sometimes you have to be at the office until after your partner is in bed. The situation is temporary and will pass. Give into the idea that during soccer season you have to make room to get your little ones to practice on time twice a week. Soccer season will end. Balance requires giving yourself enough room to shift along with the changes that are inherent in your life and work. Embrace the reality so the shifts can happen.
3. Ask for Help
From delegating to outright asking someone to bail you out of a tough situation, asking for help when you need it will help you maintain balance.
When you're in charge, it can be tempting to believe your title means you should have all the answers, but it doesn't. Your title means you have the experience, wisdom, and expertise to lead and solve problems, and asking for help is a necessary part of both.
4. Trust Your Employees
Micromanaging what you're already managing is no way to lead a balanced life, which is why you need to practice trusting your employees with the tasks and projects you've given them. Let them meet deadlines and do work they're capable of without checking in on their progress more than is necessary.
What's a necessary amount? Just follow the Golden Rule: Treat your employees as you would want to be treated, and check in on them as much as you would need to be checked in on if you were in their shoes. By expecting your employees to work as hard and as reliably as you do, you'll allow them to do their work in a less fettered way. If an employee fails to follow through with less monitoring and more trust, replace him with someone who will.
5. Examine Your Expectations
What is it you expect from yourself? At work? At home? In your family? In each workday? In the trajectory of your career? Oftentimes, women in leadership can find that they're operating under a burden of expectations that have nothing to do with their values or the values of their company or community.
Spend some time investigating exactly what standards you're holding yourself to and why. You may discover more balance beneath the simple act of letting go of expectations that aren't even yours.
Being in charge feels best when it's well-balanced. Follow these tips, and you'll find your self on the path where you can lead, love, and live the way you want to.