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The conventional wisdom is that dedicating oneself thoroughly to a cause usually pays off. But sacrificing life-balance for career success might just backfire, says Joan Gurvis of the Center for Creative Leadership and co-author of Finding Your Balance.

If spending more time on the job were directly proportional to one’s work effectiveness, leaders who are rated by colleagues as having a high balance between work and personal life would receive low marks. In fact, the opposite is true. Leaders who are rated by coworkers as having more balance between work and personal life are seen as significantly more effective in their roles.

These findings are drawn from CCL’s database of 360-degree leadership assessments completed by participants in its leadership development programs. These assessments provide leaders with feedback from their bosses, peers and direct reports on a wide range of behaviors and skills. The assessment asks that leaders be graded on five balance issues:

No. 1: Does the leader strike a reasonable balance between work and private life?
No. 2: Does the leader act as if there is more to life than just having a career?
No. 3: Does the leader have activities and interests outside of career?
No. 4: Does the leader take career so seriously that his or her personal life suffers?
No. 5: Does the leader allow job demands to cause family problems?

Essentially, executives and managers who received high scores on the balance questions had high scores on leadership effectiveness, too, with balance scores 16 percent higher than less effective leaders. Gurvis concludes that we can lead balanced lives and be more effective in our work. Now it’s up to organizations and their leaders to support a more balanced approach to work and life.

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