Leading By Example
Using every bit of allotted time off is essential to achieving work-life balance for MacKenzie and his staff. Equally important is allowing staff to occasionally take long lunches or leave the office early for personal reasons. “These small investments of time pay huge dividends in staff morale,” he says. “To my colleagues, I would suggest that you assume that you and your staff do not currently have the best possible work-life balance. There is always another step forward to be taken.”
AEs can also lead by example through transparency about their own challenges and obstacles. Rayne doesn’t walk around the office shouting that she is in therapy, but she makes no secret about her sessions. “You have to be mindfully vulnerable—showing them that it is OK to need therapy, showing them that the whole ‘strong CEO, no faults, perfect persona’ is not real,” she says. “It’s OK to not be OK.”
Rayne derives so much benefit from self-care and professional development books—she says Mel Robbins’ The 5 Second Rule and Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass are life changers—that she established a little staff library in her office. A new favorite of Rayne’s is Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead, for its guidance on communicating and expressing empathy.
Executives should also set the stage for others by being transparent about their own commitment to work-life balance, says North Carolina Association of REALTORS® CEO Andrea Bushnell, RCE. The avid tennis player takes off days for tournaments and puts her games on her calendar for all to see, “so it gives them permission to be able to do things that are important to them, also.”
Bushnell adds, “I think it is important for a manager, a boss, to set an example that a work-life balance is important.”
All In It Together
Employees who care about one another and work well together are better able to deliver on the association’s value proposition.
“We’re realizing for the long haul, we have to come up with some kind of ritual around this and normalize that it is healthy, that this is what longevity and sustainability look like,” says Amelia Roeschlein, a consultant at the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, in Washington, D.C. “Whether you work by yourself or not, having a team or having others who do similar work call you out and ask, ‘How are you doing? What do you need?’ Like it or not, we need each other, and one of the most potent ways to feel better is to lean into someone else.”
Then, when staff feel connected and supported, that feeds into great member care. “It’s important to me that when somebody walks in the door, they are warmly greeted, and I’m not looking for it to be fake. I want our staff to be happy to be here,” says Raynes.
Grasso agrees: “The opportunity to take that mental break during the day, to kind of recharge and recenter and then go back to work—that helps staff provide a high-level service to the membership.”