Skip to content

The Importance of Flexible Working for Women Leaders: Blending Personal and Professional Success

Women are navigating increasingly complex roles within even more complex organisations. The demands of our workplaces can be all-consuming, risking burnout, disenchantment and resignations. Many women find it hard to strike a harmonious chord between personal and professional life.

Arianna Huffington said, “It’s not about balance, it’s about blending and integrating your personal and professional life.” This philosophy becomes particularly key when considering the impact of flexibility on the success and wellbeing of women.

Blending Personal and Professional Life

The traditional concept of work-life balance often implies a delicate equilibrium, a tightrope act where neither side can be given too much weight. For women managing their responsibilities in multifaceted workplaces alongside full lives, this binary view is not entirely applicable. Arianna Huffington’s insight suggests a more integrated approach, where personal and professional spheres coalesce into a seamless, mutually reinforcing tapestry.

The ability to work flexibly becomes a crucial thread in weaving this integrated tapestry. It’s not just about finding a balance between demands of the boardroom and those of family life; it’s about creating a dynamic synergy where every aspect of our lives fuels the success of the other. That’s where joy can be created!

Research backs this up

Deloitte’s research underscores the profound impact of flexible working on organisational dynamics. Companies that embrace flexible working arrangements and policies supporting work-life integration, alongside valuing diverse skills, approaches and styles tend to experience higher levels of employee engagement and lower turnover rates. For women leaders, this is not merely a “statistic” but a testament to the potential transformation that flexibility can bring to all working women. Here’s how:

1. We achieve more!

Flexible working allows women leaders to structure their work hours in alignment with their peak productivity periods. Whether it’s leveraging early-morning focus or late-night creativity, flexibility empowers leaders to optimise their work hours, leading to increased productivity.

2. We want to work at these employers

In any organisation, retaining talented leaders is as critical as attracting them. Flexible working and a policy of respecting and valuing diverse styles are powerful tools for talent retention, offering a competitive edge in attracting women who value work-life integration.

3. Our wellbeing thrives!

The demands of leadership roles at every level can take a toll on our mental and physical health. Flexible working provides women leaders with the autonomy and permission to design a schedule that accommodates personal wellbeing practices, whether that’s a walk outside between calls or splitting our working day to accommodate a school run or favourite workout class.

4. We feel like we belong

Embracing flexible working fosters a culture of inclusive leadership. It signals to the workforce that diverse working styles are not only accepted but also valued. For women leaders, this inclusivity can be a game changer, meaning we don’t need to play the “boys’ game”, wearing masks of cultural norms and social expectations.
 
We can be our whole selves without judgement or constraint. We belong and don’t need to squash parts of ourselves to fit in and assimilate.

5. Our ability to adapt and our resilience is valued

Zenger Folkman recognised in its leadership assessment tools, during COVID, that adaptability was a prized leadership trait that lined closely to success. Their data also showed that the associated behaviours were scored significantly higher in women leaders.
 
Flexible working cultivates this adaptability by allowing leaders to respond to the evolving demands of their roles and industries without compromising personal commitments.

6. We become role models!

Women leaders championing flexible working send a powerful message. They demonstrate that success doesn’t have to be tethered to a desk but can be achieved through strategic, results-driven approaches that honour both professional and personal facets of life.
 
This in turn creates a momentum of permission and compassion for others, of any gender, to sculpt a balance that honours them and their needs too. 

The Path Forward: Empowering Women Leaders

As organisations continue to evolve, the empowerment of women leaders becomes not only a strategic imperative but one of an organisation’s ethical and moral stance. Flexible working emerges as a pivotal enabler in this journey, offering a blueprint for leadership success beyond conventional constraints, norms and legal requirements. This is true for all employees but especially for women.

Organisations must proactively embrace and advocate for the ability and promotion of working flexibly to nurture the current and next generation of women leaders. This isn’t just about adapting to a changing landscape; it’s about creating an environment where leaders, irrespective of gender (sexuality, race, disability or belief systems too!), can thrive in all their brilliance, guided by the principle that success is found not in balance but in artful integration of personal and professional aspirations.

This isn’t just a matter of convenience; it’s a narrative of empowerment and transformation.

As organisations continue to champion diversity and inclusivity, flexible working stands as a beacon, illuminating the path towards a future where leaders, regardless of their gender, can navigate complexity with grace, resilience, and unparalleled success.

What do you need flexibility in to truly thrive as your most authentic self?