Work-Life Balance for Leaders with Jennifer Chapman

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On this episode of Monetize the Mic, Jess had the chance to talk with Interview Connections client Jennifer Chapman about work-life balance as a leader!

Jennifer used to be a workaholic, known as the go-to person for getting things done and managing the most difficult customers or clients at a Fortune 500 consulting firm. She thrived on challenging situations and proving to others that she was invincible. But when her mental and physical health began to take a hit, she began a journey to create a work and personal life that aligned with what she most valued and wanted most.

Now she has created and has the job she wants, an independent confidence from within, and the ability to bring her authentic self into everything she does at work. She’s more successful—in terms of happiness, financial security, and her ability to help others—than she’s ever been.

Jennifer is an expert leadership coach who works with clients who want to be more confident, more authentic, and more successful. She especially enjoys helping leaders who have been promoted through functional expertise embrace their roles as people managers.

Jess asks, with everything Jennifer has going on, how does she find time to relax? What’s her secret?

Jennifer admits that it’s a struggle - it’s a practice. Sometimes she starts to feel like she is invincible and she can do it all and then her body reminds her that she’s not. Mother’s Day is a great example. Despite the well wishes of Mother’s Day, that day can often be more stressful than relaxing for mothers. This year, Jennifer wanted to make it the day she wanted it to be.

So she planned a Mother’s Day party. She invited 6 friends, they all had a great dinner, and Jennifer hired two massage therapists and everyone got massages. Afterward, they had a gift exchange and topped off the night with Ben and Jerry's ice cream. Jennifer and her friends had such a great time, they’re already planning one for the weekend after school starts, which is another crazy time for parents.

Jennifer has to plan things in order to achieve work-life balance. She has a super supportive husband but Jennifer realized that she just needs to ask sometimes even though it can be hard to ask. Jennifer realized that you can really take ownership by knowing that you can have what you want by making the time and planning for it.

Jessica agrees that as mothers, it’s not that our spouses aren’t okay with us taking time for ourselves - it’s that we ourselves have a hard time.

Jennifer recommends to flip it around and ask yourself, “What advice would I give to my friend?”

People ask Jennifer all the time, “Do you coach yourself since you’re a coach?” Yes, all the time, Jennifer says! She asks herself, “If I were my client, what would I be saying to myself right now? How would I be comforting my friend?” Like many women, Jennifer is a lot kinder to her friends than she is to herself.

Jessica wants to know, why is STEM in the industry that Jennifer specializes in? Why does she feel called to support them in their leadership?

Jennifer always felt like she got along with people in the STEM field. Those people tend to be very task-focused and very logical. She feels different from a lot of coaches, who are more interested in the people-side and gravitate toward people in those industries. Jennifer discovered she has a gift working with task-oriented and focused people. She thought, why not specialize in it.

Jennifer has found it incredibly rewarding. She works with type A personalities who want to get stuff done, and the people-side of things is an afterthought. Her clients typically reach a point where they realize that they are getting stagnant, and they won’t move up unless they figure out how to do the people-side of their business.

A recent study showed that 78% of HR leaders said that they had become focused on finding technology employees with soft skills. The thing that is gonna differentiate you is “Can you work with people? Can you have difficult conversations? Do you know what to do when there’s conflict? Can you mentor effectively?” People Jennifer works with say, “I want to get better with this but I don't even know where to start.”

Jess asks for some examples of soft skills that Jennifer helps her clients improve.

One of the biggest skills Jennifer helps her clients with is how to get influence or how to get buy-in. She shares a story about how her husband noticed at his new job that a software that they were using was archaic. They had used it for a long time and loved it. Her husband noticed that it was inefficient, and they were doing double the work. At a meeting, her husband raised a hand and said “We need to do something about this system because it’s completely inefficient.” He met with stunned silence.

The people in the room were the ones who advocated for that software program in the first place. He said to Jennifer, “I don't know why they didn’t see that my way was better.” Jennifer helped him see that he just stood up in a room and basically called everyone there an idiot. He responded, “I am who I am, and I am direct.” Jennifer asks, “And how is that working out for you?”

People say feelings shouldn’t matter but Jennifer insists that they do. The key is figuring out what issues are getting in the way of you getting what you want. Then you need to figure out how you can authentically develop those relationships with people, and build that trust so they will get on board and get excited about what you have in mind.

Jess asks, “What’s your process when you coach? How do you help them see the difference between their intent and their impact?”

Jennifer has observed that a lot of task-focused people don’t have a lot of empathy. She explains that empathy isn’t letting someone cry on your shoulder. Empathy is the ability to step out of your own shoes and try on someone else’s shoes and see it from a different perspective. When you think about the best leaders, they’re the ones who can step into so many different shoes. They ask, “How is this going to impact everyone?” Empathy is a key attribute to success in any industry. Stop and think, “What is my objective? What am I trying to accomplish?” And then flip to being in their perspective. What are they trying to accomplish?

Sometimes when you think about it that way, you find out you’re aligned on the same thing. That’s when you can have a real conversation about how you can collaborate and work together so you both achieve what you both want.

Another piece of advice Jennifer has for our listeners is that your example speaks volumes. She would tell her team members that she wanted them to have work-life balance. Yet she was sending emails at 11:00pm, or working on a Saturday.

Actions speak louder than words. After Jennifer started modeling a better work-life balance and being more clear in her expectations, she noticed that her team did a much better job of maintaining their work schedules. When she made the well-being of her team a top priority, she saw that when she needed them, her team was there and came through for her.

You can connect with Jennifer at ambitionleadership.com!

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