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How work-life balance can make you a better leader

A new study shows that silencing notifications and ignoring emails after a workday can help managers be effective leaders

Turning off notifications and ignoring emails can make people better leaders. (Pexels/Eren Li)
Turning off notifications and ignoring emails can make people better leaders. (Pexels/Eren Li)

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Silencing notifications and ignoring emails at the end of the workday could help people become more efficient leaders, according to a new study. A manager who disconnected from their jobs at home and focused on maintaining a work-life balance were effective leaders the next day. 

Led by scientists from the University of Florida (uf), the University of Arizona and Florida State University, the new study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology pointed out that despite the importance of leader identity, little is known about how leaders can start their workday in a cognitive state that helps them perform the role more effectively. 

Also read: What does it take to build a progressive workplace?

“The simple message of this study is that if you want to be an effective leader at work, leave work at work,” said Klodiana Lanaj, a professor at UF’s Warrington College of Business who led the research.

For the study managers and their employees at US businesses were surveyed in 2019 and 2022. Leaders’ ability to disconnect from work when at home the night before and their level of energy and how strongly they identified as a leader in the morning at work was assessed, according to ANI. Employees rated their bosses on their ability to lead their teams.

The findings showed that on nights the leaders could completely turn off and not think about work, they felt more energised at work the next day and also engaged better in the leadership role. The employees also reiterated this and said the managers provided more effective motivation and guidance during these days. 

In contrast, when the leaders couldn’t disconnect from work the previous night and thought about the negative aspects of work, they couldn’t recuperate their energy by the morning. They saw themselves as less leader-like and weren’t as effective in their leadership role. 

Interestingly, leaders with less experience were especially prone to becoming ineffective if they spent their time focusing on their jobs at home, according to ANI. “This is particularly important for inexperienced leaders, as they seem to benefit the most from recovery experiences when at home. Leaders have challenging jobs as they juggle their own role responsibilities with the needs of their followers, and they need to recover from the demands of the leadership role,” Lanaj said.

Hence, the study showed that the key to effective leadership in the office is a better work-life balance. Exercise, quality time with family and friends or watching TV, reading books or focusing on hobbies are some of the activities that managers should engage in to relax and reset. Reducing after-hours emailing and expectations for on-call work is an important way to do that.

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