how to achieve four-way wins

January 25, 2016 0 comments

Work-life integration as opposed to work-life balance…

Too many people believe that to achieve great things we must make brutal sacrifices, to succeed in work we must focus single-mindedly, at the expense of everything else in life. Even those who reject the idea of a zero-sum game fall prey to a kind of binary thinking revealed by the term we use to describe the ideal lifestyle: ‘work/life balance’. The idea that ‘work’ competes with ‘life’ ignores ‘life’ is actually the intersection and interaction of four major domains: work, home, community, and the private self. Most successful people are those who can harness the passions and powers of the various parts of their lives to achieve ‘four-way wins’—actions that result in life being better in all four domains. Thus, integration, not balance, is a better lens to view how one navigates work and the rest of life.

How would you analyze work-life integration vis-à-vis the concept of Total Leadership (TL)?

528-2The ‘purpose’ of TL is to improve performance in all four domains of life by creating mutual value among them. It is a proven method for creating harmony, or integration, among the different parts of life, based on decades of research. The key principles of this approach are to ‘be real’, acting with authenticity by clarifying what is important; to ‘be whole’, acting with integrity by respecting the whole person, and to ‘be innovative’, acting with creativity by continually experimenting with how things get done.

What are the critical skills needed for integrating work and life?

In my thirty years as a professor, researcher, consultant, and executive, I have found eighteen specific skills that bring these principles to life, and foster greater alignment and harmony among the four life domains. I illustrate them with examples and describe how you can develop them in Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life.

It starts with a focus on being real—how to act with authenticity by clarifying what is important, wherever you are, whatever you are doing. That requires you to:

  • Know what matters.
  • Embody values consistently.
  • Align actions with values.
  • Convey values with stories.
  • Envision your legacy.
  • Hold yourself accountable.

The second principle that Total Leadership addresses is being whole—acting with integrity. What I mean by that is respecting the fact that all the roles you play make up one whole person and encourages others to view you the same way. To do that you must be able to:

  • Clarify expectations.
  • Help others.
  • Build supportive networks.
  • Apply all your resources.
  • Manage boundaries intelligently.
  • Weave disparate strands.

The third Total Leadership principle is to be innovative—to act with creativity in identifying and pursuing more four-way wins. To do so, you need to:

  • Focus on results.
  • Resolve conflicts among domains.
  • Challenge the status quo.
  • See new ways of doing things.
  • Embrace change courageously.
  • Create cultures of innovation around you.

How is an approach based on “being real, being whole, and being innovative” linked to success?

528-1By clarifying what is important, respecting the whole person, and continually experimenting, one increases one’s chances of being successful in all of life’s domains. The six exemplary leaders I profile in my book show how truly successful people do not forsake the other parts of their lives to achieve success in their professional and public lives; to the contrary, they find creative ways to embrace their family, community, and personal lives to gain the support and resources they need to accomplish great things—to use their particular talents and passions in the service of contributing to the world.

Definite connect between work-life integration and productivity?

Yes, for example, if you are distracted while you are at work by responsibilities you have at home or to others outside of work (for example, your aging parents, your sports team members), you will be less productive. If you are distracted by work obligations and worries while you are at home with your spouse and children, then you will be less effective as a loving, caring spouse, or parent. But if you are able to manage these boundaries by understanding what is most important to you, finding out from others what they really need from you, and then experimenting with ways of meeting your needs ‘and’ their needs, in years of research, consulting, and teaching, I have found that it is nearly always possible to be more productive.

With more millennials entering the workforce, how can organizations best help employees lead the life they want?

Millennials are keenly interested in and quite outspoken about their desire to have meaningful lives outside of work and also to have meaningful work. Employers can attempt to change the way in which some view this attitude as laziness or a lack of commitment to work. Instead, employers who want to attract and retain millennial talent can recognize that people, and not just millennials, are most productive when they are well-rested, when they are engaged in work that is meaningful to them, when they are not distracted by obligations, responsibilities, and worries from outside of work. We have found that the Total Leadership approach resonates deeply with millennials and helps them feel purposeful, connected, and optimistic about having an impact through their work.

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