I have always considered it a bonus to work for a leader who has children. Why? At any point in the day, someone out of their control can force the most organized professional to recalibrate their priorities to honor their values. For them, work/life balance is not an option and a sense of perspective is a requirement.
This week, Republican Representative Paul Ryan joined the conversation about work/life balance and provided a tutorial in job offer negotiation. He responded to requests to become a candidate for House Speaker with a vision for what he believes success looks like. Prior to accepting the offer, he outlined his non-negotiables.
“I cannot and will not give up my family time. I may not be able to be on the road as much as previous speakers, but I pledged to make up for it with more time communicating our message.”
His message was to create party unity, but his ‘personal’ requirement of family time attracted the most media attention. Many questioned his ability to perform the duties of the office if he stepped away for weekends at home. One tweet wondered how the congressman would respond to an employee making the same request. Others felt a congresswoman with the same demand would be discounted immediately.
If Paul Ryan can reimagine the role of speaker, consider the ripple effect among lawmakers. Perhaps a serious effort to address the everyday worker’s challenges with balance @work?
We are at a turning point in the work/life balance conversation. Although still in the majority, those who value work at the expense of life are retiring in record numbers and their replacements have no interest in maintaining a legacy that forces a choice between work and life. Yes, we are connected 24×7, but technology can also offer both the freedom to meet our work commitments and disconnect for family, friends, lifelong learning and fun.
Before you head into you boss’ office this afternoon and demand time away for family, consider the elements of Paul Ryan’s negotiation and decide if your situation fits.
He didn’t want the job. He was heavily recruited. He is negotiating from a position of strength.
He has no competition. There are no other candidates.
If his conditions are not met, he will walk away. He has a job he loves and can be successful without being Speaker.
If you meet all of the above, you might be at the peak of your demand @work and it may be time to ask. If not, develop a strategy to move you to a place of strength and time your ask.
There will always be a place @work for those whose work is their life. It may just be a bit lonelier for the workaholic of the future.