How To Navigate Work-Life Balance as a Sales Leader

How To Navigate Work-Life Balance as a Sales Leader

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For top performing sales leaders, achieving a healthy work-life balance can be a challenge, especially when aiming for high-level positions like VP of Sales. I recently sat down and had a conversation with a few sales leaders about the demands and realities of climbing the corporate ladder while maintaining family commitments and personal well-being.

One of the attendees, he was a director level, had concerns about the intense work hours typically associated with VP roles, citing experiences of seeing their own VP online well past typical office hours. He said he is constantly questioning whether sacrificing family time for career advancement will be worth it when he steps up a level.

While we were at lunch I tried my best to document all my observations and takeaways from spending a few hours with this amazing group of VPs and CROs. Here’s what I have:

The Grind of a VP Role

All VPs present concluded unanimously that the demanding nature of VP roles by default mean long hours and constant pressure to deliver results. We all agreed that VP positions often require being available around the clock to address urgent issues and support team members. The high stakes and responsibilities associated with the VP role can lead to stress and burnout if not managed effectively. It’s not for everyone.

“I’m a Director of Sales and I always see my VP online in the evenings past 8pm. I’ve sent him messages past that and he’s responded. He is also sometimes online on Sundays.”

Finding Balance through Effective Leadership

Others shared strategies for maintaining a semblance of work-life balance while climbing the corporate ladder. One VP described her approach, which involves setting clear boundaries, prioritizing tasks, and empowering team members to handle day-to-day operations independently. By delegating responsibilities, she was able to achieve career success without sacrificing family time.

“It’s not so much the high workload, it’s more so the staff that need your assistance at all hours of the day. VP or higher, you have to put out fires. If you don’t put them out, the team slows down or stops working entirely.” – VP of Sales

Industry and Company Dynamics

The discussion also touched on how work-life balance varies depending on the industry and company culture. In high-growth startups, VPs may find themselves immersed in a fast-paced environment, juggling multiple responsibilities and working long hours to drive growth. In contrast, established companies with robust infrastructures may offer more stability and predictable work hours for senior executives.

“A high-growth Series A company likely does not have all its processes figured out yet, so the VP is likely doing double-duty coaching the team, managing the largest deals, building processes for the future, and the unseen but significant effort in hiring and onboarding.” – CRO

Reevaluating Career Goals

For some, the allure of climbing the corporate ladder may wane in favor of a more balanced lifestyle. Several people shared their decisions to prioritize family and personal well-being over career advancement. They opted to remain in individual contributor roles or pursue alternative career paths that offer financial security without the stress of leadership positions.

“Hours can be sporadic…..75% of my day to day is spent on emails, phone, or video meetings.” – VP of Sales

The Future of Sales Leadership

Looking ahead, there’s speculation about the evolving landscape of sales leadership. With advancements in technology (most notably AI) and changes in organizational structures, there’s a growing emphasis on efficiency and productivity. Some people predict a shift towards leaner management structures, with fewer middle managers and greater empowerment for individual contributors.

Five ways sales leaders can achieve better work-life balance

The group of VPs and sales leaders I met with collectively discussed and came up with these five simple ways sales leaders can have better balance in their lives. Small changes can have a profound, long term impact on your health and family.

  • Set Boundaries and Prioritize Tasks

    Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life by prioritizing tasks and setting realistic expectations for both yourself and your team. Identify key objectives and focus on activities that drive the most impact and delegate non-essential tasks as much possible.

  • Delegate and Empower Team Members

    Hire great people and trust your team to handle day-to-day operations effectively. Delegate tasks and responsibilities, empower your team members to make decisions and take ownership of their work. This reduces your own workload and create opportunities for professional growth within your team.

  • Establish Healthy Work Habits

    Develop healthy work habits by maintaining regular work hours and taking breaks when needed (so try your best to work the 9am-5pm schedule). Avoid the temptation to work excessive hours or constantly check emails outside of work hours. Most importantly and something that came up a lot during our luncheon is to set aside time for self-care, exercise, and activities that promote relaxation and well-being.

  • Use Technology Wisely

    In 2024 you have access to the most incredible technology that can give you balance in your day-to-day — use it! Leverage technology to streamline workflows and improve efficiency, but also pay attention to its impact on your work-life balance. Establish boundaries to prevent technology from encroaching on your personal time.

  • Communicate and Negotiate Flexibility

    Set expectations with your employer about your need for work-life balance. If possible and appropriate you can negotiate flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options, flexible hours, etc. Setting expectations up front and opening a line of communication with your employer and team members can help create a supportive work environment conducive to maintaining balance.

Overall Takeaways

My recent luncheon and conversations with VPs of Sales and CROs offers a glimpse into the complex dynamics of work-life balance that can be found across nearly every sales department. The biggest takeaway from the group was that while achieving career success often requires dedication and hard work, it’s essential to prioritize personal well-being and family commitments along the way. Whether aspiring to reach the VP level, CRO or opting for a completely different career trajectory, finding the right balance is key to long-term happiness and fulfillment in your professional career and home life.

If you are currently combating bad sales culture and burnout, please contact us, Harper James Capital can help.

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