There are many who will vehemently disagree with this. But I’m not one of them. It’s not supposed to be like this; working longer and longer to be given more and more responsibility and more and more money. Did you notice the subtle difference in words I used? Longer and longer, not harder and harder, because we’re not. I’ve worked in organisations where people literally sat at their desks from 8 in the morning until 10 at night. There is no way that anyone can focus intently and produce great work for that amount of time. So I would watch them, and I noticed a pattern that we are probably all too familiar with. Bursts of brilliance interspersed with many hours of unproductiveness. Working longer and longer does not mean we’re more important, or producing better work (this is one of the great themes in Tim Ferris’ The 4-Hour Workweek).
So if you want to be a great leader then put in place a system that allows you to go home and live a life. It will encourage all those around you to do the same.
One of the biggest and single most traits we need to do this is moral courage. It’s so easy to stay in the office. It’s so easy to sacrifice everything else in order to get more work done. And while that is sometimes too easily justified in our own lives, I’m not telling you to go home for yourself, your own family or your own health. I’m telling you to go home for your team.
There is nothing more refreshing than working for a great leader who puts their own personal life and family first. It encourages all those around them to do the same.
I once worked for someone who canceled part of an executive business trip because they mixed up the first day of school for their son. They refused to not be there for this moment. The impact that had on the team was huge; trust, confidence that they will support your own needs when they arise, and just simple respect that they walked the talk.
The irony to it all is that ultimately you’ll have a happier, more engaged team, and thus you’ll be more productive.
So stop. Turn off, switch off and go home. Because that’s what great leaders do.