RLI 278 2 Leading a Full Life: Reflections on Several Decades of Work, Family, and Accomplishment Shirley K. Baker, Vice Chancellor for Scholarly Resources and Dean of University Libraries, Washington University in St. Louis (retired June 2012) Author’s note: Encouraged by friends and family, I am writing a book on leadership. A critical section of my draft is a reflection on work/life balance. This article is drawn from that section. To read drafts of additional stories from the book, visit my blog at http://www.shirleykbaker.com. N friends. We wanted all of those in our lives. We agreed that each of us wanted rewardingeither my husband nor I ever wanted a life that was all work; neither wanted to marry a personwho worked billable hours. Each of us loves many things—reading, dancing, and family and work; neither wanted to give up career goals for the sake of the other. Compromise, yes; give up, no. We developed a rough “your move/my move” strategy that took us through half a dozen job changes while moving each of us forward in our careers. Sometimes it meant moving across town, sometimes across the country. Each of us has left a job we loved for the benefit of the other. Each of us did manage to excel in a career. And we have friends and children. It was not easy, especially when the children were young. But our children are now interesting, balanced adults and my husband and I are still married and happy more often than not. We worked hard at balance. We paid close attention to time management. Taking on more responsibility at home or work meant being even more cognizant of managing our time. Here are some strategies that worked for us to get our work done and have lives outside work. Managing Work Life Choose carefully what you do yourself. For me an important insight was that I should do first what only I could do. If I could delegate the task, I did. To do this, I had to learn to share up front what was important to me in the final outcome. Then I could leave thehow up to the staff member. In my first weeks as dean I was talking with the associate dean whose position was the one I had held at MIT. I was about to tell him exactly how I wanted something done, when I realized how badly I react to such detailed instruction. So I backed off and told him what I considered important—the rest was up to him. One has to assume that most delegation will turn out well. To guarantee that, do give feedback on action taken—either confirming success or providing positive guidance on improving. Good staff are quick learners. And they respond to increasing and interesting responsibility. Fight your urge to control. By delegating, you give up control of details and you generate more results. Leaders who insist on paying close attention to details don’t accomplish as much as they could. In lower- level positions, you might have had time and sufficient knowledge to control most processes. As a dean or March 2012 research Library issues: a QuarterLy report froM arL, cNi, aNd sparc
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