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Many managers and leaders focus obsessively on their current jobs. They don't believe they can be successful without that single focus.
However, most realize that to advance your career, especially to the C-suite, you need diverse experiences in a variety of functions, industries, and geographies.
A survey of 122 senior executives from a variety of industries agreed that outside engagements were critical to leadership success now and in the future.
Meaningful engagement should be in activities that expose you to different people, information, and cultures, but is synergistic with your personal interests and your current or future primary work. Think of yourself as having a portfolio where your job is in the middle, the outside activities surround and complement it, and you use what you've learned to advance each sphere.
Although executives face a high demand on their time, private and public sector leaders believe that you can find the time if you make it a priority. (Although you may have to give up some nights or weekends.) Make sure you deliver in your job and for your family, then take on additional responsibilities.
Try to spend 10% to 20% on these "extracurricular" activities. The amount needn't be consistent every week or month.
When you take on a strategic side gig, it's often wise to discuss the matter with your employer and family.
Show how the activity is relevant and how it will benefit your company and your development. If the organization you work for doesn't understand the value of an outside activity, it's at risk of becoming obsolete and should be a red flag to you.
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One approach for recharging leads to balance and recovery. It suggests you use your downtime for something unrelated to your job that will refresh you. Think about it in terms of detachment, relaxation, autonomy, mastery, meaning, and affiliation.
You first have to understand which of your needs are least satisfied by your work, then choose hobbies which fulfill these needs. If your work does not offer enough social interaction, pick a social pastime. If your job is not challenging, choose a hobby where you can learn new skills.
Enrichment Theory offers a perspective from work psychology and points out that the skills and experiences we build in our free time can complement our work performance.
It suggests that you find a hobby that touches on your job in some way. If you want to use your leadership skills, play the role of team captain for your local soccer team.
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