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Five Steps for Using Your Authority to Create Balance

Five Steps for Using Your Authority to Create Balance

As you move up the corporate ladder, your mindset should change, as well. You become a leader rather than a doer. Your time may be in more demand for meetings, but you will spend a lot less time on preparing presentations, writing papers, building spreadsheets - whatever you did before you started supervising staff.

With more responsibility, you also gain more authority and autonomy. As long as your team is successful and meeting company goals, this gives you the opportunity to create your own work-life balance - you just have to convince yourself to take it. You may even be able to influence the culture to minimize unnecessary meetings, to everyone’s benefit.

[Related: Three Leadership Goals to Set for Each Stage of Your Career]

1) You’re the boss. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.

Women sometimes have the tendency to want to explain why they are saying "no," why they are leaving early, or why they can’t attend a meeting. This may be necessary if your boss is the type to want to micro-manage, but what if you are the boss?

Think of all the times that you have heard your male boss explain why he can’t make a meeting. Everyone is different, but I can’t think of any. Say you need to pick up your kid one day at 4:30, so your meetings can’t run past 4:00pm.

You’re the boss. People expect you to be busy.

Don’t say:

I have to leave at 4:00 to pick up my kid.

Instead say:

I have a hard stop at 4:00. Doug, can you send me the action items and notes after the meeting? Thanks everyone.

Don’t say:

I take the kids to school on Wednesday, so no meetings before 9:00.

Instead say:

Please find an open time on my calendar for all meetings.

Then be sure to block out your calendar appropriately.

2) Don’t apologize.

I’m not saying not to apologize when you make a mistake. Everyone should acknowledge their mistakes, but many women apologize for living their lives, being human, even for other people’s mistakes. You do not need to apologize for having a life outside of work.

You’re the boss. You have to take phone calls, but you don’t need to tell people who is calling.

Don’t say:

I’m sorry, it’s my husband. He is calling because…

Instead say:

Excuse me.

And step out. That’s it. That’s all you need to do.

3) Be a better delegator.

You can almost always delegate more than you think. If you trust your team, let them step up.

For example, if you need to read a large paper before a conference, ask someone on your team to read it and summarize it in bullets for you to review. This is what legislators always do.

[Related: First Week at a New Job? Get to Know Your Team!]

4) Use your team’s strength and expertise.

You don’t need to know everything - as long as your team knows everything. Encourage your team members to become experts in different areas and then lean on their expertise.

Invest in building a great team. This will only reflect well on you and save you time.

5) Don’t always be available.

There is a reason why people think that expensive goods are better. Don’t worry if you can’t always answer the phone.

If you trust your team, in most cases you can let them decide or they can wait a while for your answer. Your value may even go up if you are not always available.

[Related: Communicating With Impact: Ten Elements of Effective Messaging]


Shelly Schoen-Rene has led many successful change efforts for government, non-profit, and private enterprises, including projects where change she brought was the first major change in employee memory. She is the founder and CEO of BK Grows, Inc and the founding partner for the consulting firm Brooklyn Growth Machine, LLC.

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