Imagine if you can, that you are the CEO of a tremendously successful company--one that has a global mission for good, somehow making the world a better place. In this vision you've got it all, or do you?
Satyen Raja mentors accomplished leaders who have come to the realization that, in fact, something significant is wrong or missing from their lives. High performers seek out Raja's services when they wake up one morning to the harsh realization that the dream of freedom they set out to claim is far from coming to fruition. While many believe that freedom and life balance is impossible for high-profile leaders, Raja teaches that true success is not possible without it.
"CEOs often feel they must make a choice: Either go full throttle into their business, or slow the pace and enjoy other activities, family, and friends," says Raja. His mentees have suffered the hidden costs of consistently driving hard and are often surprised to learn they no longer need to defer the rewards associated with their success to a future date. "CEOs can have both personal and professional satisfaction," says Raja. "Faith, family, finance, fitness, and fun are very valuable assets in building a thriving business, not contrary to the process."
This paradigm shift may seem counterintuitive to the "I'm crushing it" mentality we seem to embrace today, but pushing to excess has its repercussions. "This way of life is not sustainable," says Raja. "In addition to unhappiness, suffering relationships, and possibly poor health, the consequences are likely to harm your company."
Where do you fall on the delicate scales of life-work balance? Raja offers this leadership advice to assist you in letting go of struggle and exhaustion in favor of freedom, health, and happiness.
Be strong, but not forceful.
Reaching milestones takes determination and strength. Raja warns that strength is not to be confused with force. When a leader pushes toward their goals with excessive force, rather than leading with positivity and focus, the end result is undesirable.
Instead of being demanding of yourself and your employees, release any emotional attachment to the outcome. A calm demeanor helps people see you as someone they can trust and they will better align with you and the mission. "Relinquishing your desire for unattainable control allows you the larger perspective of a chess player, not just another piece in the game of chess," says Raja.
Be directive, but not pushy.
If your sole focus is on pushing and challenging your team to perform better, any temporary improvement in numbers will eventually collapse under this unsustainable strategy. Eventually, negativity and intensity will break down even the most ardent workers. "Loyalty is diminished. Your employees will do the bare minimum to get stuff done. If they don't feel cared for, they won't care about the company. This affects the quality and precision of their work," says Raja.
Instead, get to know your employees and learn what, other than money, motivates them. Ask for input on the direction of the company culture and give employees the autonomy to implement change. This generates a greater buy-in of the company mission and facilitates growth.
Lead with clarity and directness, but don't be passive.
Strive to strike a balance in your leadership style. When a leader's approach is overly passive, accommodating, and inviting, employees are left feeling rudderless. Without clear direction their collective focus will waver, leading to a decrease in synergy and progress.
Create a collaborative culture by inviting employees to share their ideas. Apply the art of listening with responsiveness and respect. "When there is a collective sense of contribution, purpose, and direction, then everything aligns like a magnet and everyone is rowing together in the same direction," says Raja.
Remain committed, but find your equilibrium.
A leader's life can feel overwhelming as he or she keeps many plates simultaneously spinning. According to Raja, this preoccupation often creates a huge vacuum in presence for family, health, and higher pursuits. The obsession and urgency to constantly take care of business can end up backfiring, resulting in failed relationships and compromised health, feeling overwhelmed, and exhaustion.
Make balance a priority and way of life. Schedule vacations and family time and treat these appointments with equal importance as your work commitments. "People consider vacations an escape, or reprieve," says Raja. "That's reactionary and creates an imbalance." As you develop a pattern of equality in work and life pursuits, everything falls into place.
Raja reports that his clients see an upleveling of their businesses as they adapt to a new perspective. Things fall in place more seamlessly and projects at work get done effectively as employees become more committed and loyal to the company. Certainly, a happy, healthy leader is far more powerful than one who struggles with his or her happiness and health.