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On work-life balance

leadership safety stress trust work-life balance Jun 20, 2023
Simon Sinek's book

I was reading Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek recently and this concept of work-life balance was being discussed. Here's what he wrote:

If we work in an environment in which leadership tells the truth, in which layoffs are not the default in hard times and in which incentive structures do not pit us against one another, the result, thanks to the increased levels of oxytocin and serotonin, is trust and cooperation.

This is what work-life balance means. It has nothing to do with the hours we work or the stress we suffer. It has to do with where we feel safe. If we feel safe at home, but we don't feel safe at work, then we will suffer what we perceive to be a work-life imbalance. 

I had to re-read this a few times. It rang true in my own experiences. When I was in work situations where I didn't feel safe, there was a huge work-life imbalance. Sinek continued: 

If we have strong relationships at home and at work, if we feel like we belong, if we feel protected in both, then the powerful forces of a magical chemical like oxytocin can diminish the effect of stress and cortisol. With trust, we do things for each other, look out for each other and sacrifice for each other. All of which adds up to our sense of security inside a Circle of Safety. We have a feeling of comfort and confidence at work that reduces the overall stress we feel because we do not feel our well-being is threatened.

When I worked with a great boss, we always had a team that worked well together for the most part, and we weathered many "storms" together. We trusted each other and we trusted our leader and there was a feeling of work-life balance, even though I was often working long hours on big projects.

This isn't a new book, it was actually first published in 2014 and revised in 2017. So this concept has been around, but I wonder how much people have experienced this in their own work-life balance, since we're still talking about this in 2023 and nowhere do I hear about it in the context of feeling safe at work, or in how a leader can impact this feeling of safety and trust as it relates to our work-life balance perception. 

I'm curious, what are your own perceptions around work-life balance? Does this ring true with you as well? Or do you believe there's another reason for your perceived balance or imbalance?

Are you working through work-life balance issues? Are you a leader and want to create better trust and safety on your team? Reach out for a free 1:1 coaching consultation.

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