IESE Insight
A practical guide to work-life balance
Nuria Chinchilla; Esther Jimenez; Pilar García-Lombardía
Artículo basado en: Integrating Life
Año: 2020
Idioma: English

Talk of "work-life balance" or "reconciliation" is becoming meaningless to many people, since the phrase often narrowly refers to a policy of flexible hours or a longer maternity leave. But real reconciliation should go far beyond that limited definition. It's actually about eliminating conflicts between the different dimensions of our lives. And achieving this harmony is of interest to everyone, not just women.

In a new book about integrating one's life for personal and professional success, IESE's professor Nuria Chinchilla, Esther Jiménez and Pilar García-Lombardía propose using leadership competencies to accommodate the various dimensions of our lives.

It is a practical book that encourages leadership at the personal, familial, professional and social levels to be aligned and strengthened. To ensure that each of these pieces finds the right fit, the authors present readers with a series of exercises.

The personal comes first
Developing concepts such as self-awareness and self-regulation, the book stresses the importance of discovering our life mission, prioritizing our roles, accounting for love, building enough trust and managing time well.

In fact, the authors say up front that personal leadership is "essential for integrating the other areas," since "it requires understanding the motives, both conscious and unconscious, that drive our decisions."

From there, knowing the mechanisms and consequences of actions taken makes it possible to truly lead one's life and, in turn, define one's mission and prioritize the appropriate roles.

Familial, professional and social
After establishing the framework for successful personal leadership, the next part of the book explores the familial factors that contribute to a full life. As an ancient institution, the family calms the emotions that cause stress and, consequently, improves work performance. And the authors say that "men are enriched [at home] with feminine values and both women and men can reconcile their roles inside and outside the home."

The book's final two sections tackle professional and social leadership. In both realms, the positive effects on a person's development are evident. In the first case, professional leadership is key because it impacts employees' quality of life and optimizes certain family roles. In the latter case, the authors point out the benefits of friendship for a full life, remind readers of the UN Development Goals for 2030, and invite everyone to discover how they can better contribute to society.

However, what's special about professional and social leadership is that they both have a broad impact on our citizenry. Their influence can be as positive as the bonds of friendship channeled through active civic engagement.

The authors argue that reconciliation requires a good self-improvement plan -- one that has specific objectives and defines its fundamental terms in detail. The final objective is life balance with a capital B, smoothing out the rough edges that inevitably appear, regardless of our gender, by truly integrating the different facets of our lives.

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