Maybe the only person in a CEO’s life who feels the weight of the job equally is the CEO’s spouse. It can be very challenging not to bring our work home with us – that is, when work isn’t keeping us away from home. Being the boss can feel so all-consuming that some CEOs don’t realize how much strain they’re putting on their marriage until the relationship is at a breaking point.
These five tips will help you give both your business and your family the attention they deserve.
1. Make family a priority.
I understand how easy it is to get swept up in the pressures, the challenges, and the fun of calling the shots, especially if you’re running a company you built from nothing. But if you’re not putting at least as much effort – if not more – into being the best husband, wife, father, or mother you can be, your loved ones are going to feel like also-rans.
Prioritizing your marriage and family isn’t just good for them, it’s good for you too. Science continues to prove what common sense has been telling you forever: you can’t work all the time. The mythical always-on, superpowered CEO who subsists on power naps and protein shakes is more likely to end up burned out and divorced than on the Fortune 500 list. The successful CEOs we work with and my own world-class team of leaders excel because they know clocking out and doing the things they love with the people they love provides the balance that makes all aspects of their lives more fulfilling.
2. Set non-negotiables.
A recent study by the Harvard Business Review says, “To sustain the intensity of the job, CEOs need to train—just as elite athletes do. That means allocating time for health, fitness, and rest.”
And one of the perks of being the boss is setting your own schedule. So, if you’re struggling to find family time, make some.
At the beginning of every year, the first thing I do when I’m looking at my calendar is schedule non-negotiable family time. This includes vacations, holidays, birthday and anniversary celebrations, kids sporting events, and any other important dates I know about well in advance.
You might also consider scheduling smaller everyday non-negotiables. For example, block out your calendar after 5:00 three or four days every week so that you’re home for dinner. Keep your work email closed on weekends (okay, maybe at least one day on the weekend). Set strict limits and use your calendar to enforce them just like you do every other important appointment.
3. Always check in when you’re away.
I don’t care how busy your work trips are. With the amount of technology we’re all carrying around in our pockets these days, there’s absolutely no excuse for not checking in on your family when you’re traveling. A simple text between meetings can mean the world to your spouse. A Facetime or Skype call at the end of a long day will keep you and your family feeling connected no matter how far away you are.
4. Surprise your spouse.
There’s a reason why walking through the front door with flowers for no reason at all is a classic: it works! We all need to feel special from time to time. Little surprises tell your spouse that your marriage is important to you every single day, not just on holidays and anniversaries.
But if you’re coming out of a particularly stressful and time-consuming period at work, consider going, well, BIG! Put an exclamation point on that major acquisition or funding round with a surprise getaway trip. Reward yourselves with a big-ticket purchase. Finally build that new deck or swimming pool you’ve been talking about, to say, “Our marriage and our home are important to me too.”
5. Involve your spouse.
Work – life boundaries are important, but they don’t have to be absolute. Even if you don’t really feel like talking about work after a long day, your spouse will appreciate being in the loop, and you might enjoy blowing off some steam. Your spouse also might provide some welcome outside perspective if you’re struggling with a difficult decision or persistent problem. Scheduling company-wide social events is another great way to involve your spouse in your business and the culture that makes it tick.
Finally, does your spouse have any talents that could benefit your company? Put those marketing, accounting, or financial skills to use and your spouse will take some personal pride in what you and your company are accomplishing.
I know from my own experience that life has a way of putting your priorities in perspective when you least expect it. Don’t take your family for granted. If you’re too busy to notice problems in your marriage, it might be too late to fix them.
About Mark Moses
Mark Moses is the Founding Partner of CEO Coaching International and the Amazon Bestselling author of Make Big Happen. His firm coaches over 175 of the world’s top high-growth entrepreneurs and CEO’s on how to dramatically grow their revenues and profits, implement the most effective strategies, becoming better leaders, grow their people, build accountability systems, and elevate their own performance. Mark has won Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award and the Blue Chip Enterprise award for overcoming adversity. His last company ranked #1 Fastest-Growing Company in Los Angeles as well as #10 on the Inc. 500 of fastest growing private companies in the U.S. He has completed 12 full distance Ironman Triathlons including the Hawaii Ironman World Championship 5 times.
About CEO Coaching International
CEO Coaching International works with the world’s top entrepreneurs, CEOs, and companies to dramatically grow their business, develop their people, and elevate their overall performance. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 500 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 20 different countries. Every coach at CEO Coaching International is a former CEO or President that has made big happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from $10 million to over $1 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight and nine figure exits. CEOs and entrepreneurs working with CEO Coaching International for three years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 66.4% during their time as a client, more than five times the national average. For more information, please visit: https://www.ceocoachinginternational.com