What defines us as humans in our role in our job?

Some time ago I read the reaction of Antonia Götsch, chief editor of Harvard Business Manager, to a CEO’s comment on the subject of holidays in her Manager Newsletter ‘Lead Forward’. They asked, “Who are you when you’re not working?” I carried that question around with me for a while and have decided to give you an insight into one facet of my life outside of my role as Managing Partner of 2Leadership… Or should I say one facet of my responsibility as Managing Partner of 2Leadership?

The latter statement resonates more loudly and leads me to support Götsch’s view.

In her newsletter she wrote that we have five ‘pillars’ on which the ‘roof’ of our life rests, and that it’s important to look after them all. That’s a good thing. Building on this, let me draw attention to our responsibility as human beings and even more so as leaders, which is to be found more among the Stakeholders than the Shareholders of our professional activity. Stakeholders being people or entities who have an interest in our existence and our actions because they affect them.

This gives us an opportunity far beyond merely maintaining the purely supportive function of the pillars of our life’s ‘roof’. Of finding and maintaining the two most important sources of motivation and strength. With that I mean passion and purpose and the answer to the question, “What is the purpose of my life’s ‘roof’ in this world?”

That’s why I use my free time to expand my awareness. To constantly re-establish the connection between my passions and my born-to-do’s and the responsibility we have in our role of our job. One of my professional passion’s is working with leaders in their responsibility for organizations. Another of my great passions is nature and photography, which I can use that to raise awareness of one of our most important Stakeholders, namely our Environment.

Around this time last year, before the Corona crisis struck, I was on an expedition North of the Arctic Circle, in the Sarek National Park, to spend part of my vacation exposing the uniqueness of this fragile region for a project with Olympus. This short video gives you an insight into the time I spent there: 

When I spend time on these kinds of ‘leisure activities’ I observe that it allows me to recharge my batteries. That I feel fulfilled and get a holistic picture for my job. This turns work-life-balance into more of a work-life blend and increases my resilience, performance and impact. Another aspect is that of social responsibility in the family, community or society. This can result in other activities outside of the company that are equally important and enriching.

When I watch the video today, after the experience of the Covid-19 Lockdown and the knowledge that our world has changed dramatically since then, I’m not sad. I’m encouraged and grateful to have chosen this experience at a time when it was possible. That I was able to use my free time for myself and that it made it clear to me again, which Stakeholders play a role.

Our own body, soul and spirit are also Stakeholders in this sense. Paying attention to this is part of the idea, but not detached from the others. I have the impression that the vast majority of the problems in our world today are ultimately related to the fact that we – and I do not exclude myself here – focus too much on ourselves and not enough on knowing the needs of all the important Stakeholders. Or of taking them into account in our actions.

Therefore, my message on the question: “What defines us as humans in our role in our job?”

My answer: We can only perform our role in our job effectively and holistically as human-beings if we use work AND free time to nurture the connection and balance of our passions, what we are were born-to-do, and the important needs of all our Stakeholders.

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