In my role as Chief Talent Officer for a global marketing agency, I’ve often heard, through conversation in interviews, performance reviews, exit conversations and even day-to-day chatter, a focus on stress, grueling schedules or the effects of a poor leader who says the right things but is, in reality, demanding and relentless. This isn’t, of course, exclusive to the marketing industry — it’s something felt throughout the American workforce. We feel overworked and under-appreciated.
As women, these stressors are compounded by issues we uniquely face — often working in a male-dominated environment, dealing with feeling undervalued and underpaid, and the antiquated societal pressures we face to serve as primary caretakers of the home and family. As a result, we’re oftentimes, and increasingly, left to manage little-to-no-balance — a lack of time and energy for loved ones, let alone hobbies or caring for ourselves. We feel trapped and stuck.
But there are ways to regain control! Here are three steps to take, and considerations to action against, to begin doing our best work and living our best lives.
Of course, before you approach your manager, you’ve got to ask yourself a tough question — whether or not your performance has earned you the respect for an open conversation about what you need to consistently deliver great work.
And, if you’re a manager, you should initiate similar career check-ins regularly. Ask how things are going and what your employee(s) need to do their best work. Giving them explicit permission to share openly, so they feel safe to talk about what’s going on in their personal lives, helps facilitate collaboration — and is just plan refreshing. Refrain from judgement and show empathy, so you can both make some adjustments that tip the scale between a fulfilled employee and one who’s burnt out and about to exit.
At the end of the day, we’ve got to empower one another, as women, to truly take care of ourselves. Being able to bring our best self to work means caring for our whole self; physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. What do you need to honor yourself — and what do you need to make that happen? Time, resources, or something else? The more you feel connected and understood across the facets of your life that make you, you, the better you’ll be able to focus on your projects and impact your business positively.
What does leadership mean to you and how do you best inspire others to lead?
Leadership is both a privilege and a responsibility. It’s how we show up in every relationship and bring out the best in our organizations and our teams. It means always learning, pursuing innovation and ways to work smarter, being vulnerable, empathetic and resilient, building trust to have safe and often difficult but honest conversations, and knowing when to land the plane. It means I surround myself with people who are smart and complement my own management style, then empower them to shoot straight, push back and bring forward new ideas. It also means having the humility to step aside and let someone else lead in an area you’re passionate about so you can help them grow their leadership skills, too.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I’ve had an incredible career journey that’s zigged and zagged due to the variety of brilliant mentors who’ve influenced me. It started with a prescient stay-at-home mom who wanted to be sure I would be an independent career woman and pushed me to take internships, travel and explore multiple careers early on. That’s how I learned I didn’t want to be a retailer or a journalist, and redirected my first career to entertainment PR. From there, I’ve had a series of incredible mentors — sponsors, really — who’ve pushed me to pursue opportunities way outside of my comfort zone and provided a lifeline when I needed it most. It was Steve Rexford and Ron Davis who inspired me to leave PR and NYC and head up employee communications at Perrier (now Nestle Waters); John McDonald who tapped me to run unionized call centers for a division of what was then GTE (now Verizon); the late Sandy Henjum who knew I was interested in HR and offered to mentor me and teach me everything if I would join her leadership team; and it’s the trifecta of Susan Sachs, Renee Nymeyer and Phil Ober who inspire me and hold me accountable to living a life that is true to my values. These special trusted partners regularly help me unleash my own potential to do the same in others — while also reassuring me that I’m only human (and sometimes fallible!).
Was it difficult to fit your life into your business/career and how did you do that?
This question makes me laugh, as this is an ongoing challenge. I’m fortunate to have a circle of trusted friends who help me on the continuous journey of making it a priority to ensure I’m caring for my whole being — physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. I love what I do and find it incredibly rewarding to coach others to realize their potential. But, over the years, I’ve learned that I need to be sure my own tank is full so I can fuel others. That means I have to prioritize fitness, mindfulness, friendships and love. I ask for help. I have an accountability partner who helps me stay focused on doing what’s most important for my personal and professional life. I’ve got coaches and colleagues who advise and guide me to make better business decisions. I have incredibly talented teams and leadership who have my back. Most importantly, I have a husband and kids who keep me grounded and I have friends who call me out and remind me of the importance of laughing, crying and having fun!
About the author: Jacob Rupp is a coach, author, speaker, podcaster, and rabbi. He is the founder of Lift Your Legacy, a community that helps people live a more authentic life. He has a regular, syndicated column that appears in ThriveGlobal and Authority magazine. To learn more about him or to listen to the Lift Your Legacy podcast, search iTunes or visit his site: liftyourlegacy.live