Model Work/Life Balance

FranklinCovey Content Team

If paparazzi had followed you last week, would they have seen a balance of activities at work and outside of work? What’s the impact?
It’s well understood that, while we openly talk about structuring one’s time and attention to effectively balance work and private life, if you really want to succeed as a leader, you clock as many hours as you can — be the first to arrive at the office and the last to leave, life balance be damned. Research published in 2018, The Project: Time Off survey, finds 24 percent of Americans reported they hadn’t taken a vacation in more than a year, and 52 percent reported having unused vacation days at the end of 2017.
Without the energizing and renewing activities that take place outside the office, you can’t be “whole” or fulfilled. And if you’re not fulfilled in multiple areas of your life, you likely won’t be as productive at work. When leaders don’t have a life, they not only look pitiful in the eyes of their teams, they also set a very low standard for how others behave, consciously or unconsciously. What you model is likely what you will see come to life in your colleagues. They will draw conclusions about what is acceptable and what is not, based both on what you say and what you do.
Life balance doesn’t necessarily mean taking a vacation. Leaders need to take time off to invest in themselves, develop hobbies, and work on their health and relationships. We also need to become more multi-dimensional by not letting our jobs define us. We’ve all experienced seasons in our lives that lean more toward our careers — and that’s okay, as long as it’s limited to a season. Remember, seasons pass — or at least they should.


  • Recognize that the most influential people live balanced lives.
  • Make a list of easy-to-implement things you could do to bring better balance.
  • Discuss openly with your team the real pressures everyone faces to grow their careers and enjoy their lives. Make it safe for everyone to take the time they need to do both.
  • Be vulnerable about the fact that work/life balance is also a challenge for you. Everyone desires authenticity and relatability in their leader.
    • Brainstorm with your team the observable behaviors that would indicate the proper work/life balance has been reached. Implement and champion them.
    • Invite colleagues to be open and honest if they feel that things have moved too far to either extreme.
  • Take time off to renew, and encourage team members to do the same.
  • Welcome them back by showing genuine interest in what they did, learned, or enjoyed.

For more on modeling work/life balance, watch this short clip from Scott Miller, author Management Mess to Leadership Success.

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