How to Manage Your Personal Problems and Leadership Issues at the Same Time

How to Manage Your Personal Problems and Leadership Issues at the Same Time

Laura Gordon | 2017-01-24


Problems in one sphere of your life can often affect the others, and to solve them, you need to recognise the interdependencies.

If you don’t look after your health and family, you’re doing your business a disservice because you won’t be able to energise your team. And what’s the point of commercial success if you’re jeopardising your health and the people closest to you?

We often discuss the relationship between personal problems and leadership issues in Vistage meetings and executive coaching sessions. We recommend a 4-pronged approach to help you deal with them proactively.

1.     Be aware of how your personal life affects your work life, and vice versa

At Vistage we talk about the virtuous circle of effective leadership: when you’re happy, you have a happy family and a happy team, which makes you even happier.

As the business leader, your job is to see the big picture, which means that to achieve the virtuous circle you need to be self-aware. Be conscious of these 3 symptoms:

  • Your stress levels are uncomfortably high: When you’re stressed in one area of your life you need to recognise it has knock-on effects on other areas
  • You’re neglecting your health and wellbeing: If you’re not exercising, eating properly or getting enough sleep, your mood and productivity are affected
  • You’re feeling anti-social: You’re on your phone during meeting breaks instead of mingling, or you’re not emotionally present when you’re with your family.


If you experience any of these symptoms regularly (and most business leaders do), it’s time to take the next step.

2.     Map out a 3-5 year vision for where you want to be in life

You have a business plan, so why not have a life plan? Follow the 3 Os to put your plan in place:

  • Outcomes: It’s important to start with your desired outcomes and work back from there. So think about your values and passions. What do you want to achieve in the next 3-5 years? What could you achieve if you were the best version of yourself? How do these outcomes benefit your family, friends, team, customers and suppliers?
  • Obstacles: What’s in the way of you achieving your outcomes? These could be self-limiting beliefs, fears, habits and behaviours
  • Options: Leadership is about knowing your options and choosing which ones to pursue given your goals.

Once you’ve identified your 3 Os, translate your plan into key objectives for the business, your personal life and your personal leadership development.

3.     Manage your time and assess progress based on your priorities

When you’ve articulated your plan and priorities, you can allocate your time accordingly – and assess how you’re balancing your life.

At Vistage, each meeting starts with checking in, where people discuss where they are from a business, personal and leadership perspective. So why not take stock of how you’re doing against your objectives on a monthly basis? It’s very common for leaders to have an eye-opening moment about 9 months after they’ve put a life plan in place. Because they’re now more proactive and in control, they’ve been able to look at the business from a fresh perspective. As a result, they’ve seen trust increase within the company, they’re more able to delegate, their stress levels are lower and family life is better.

In other words, following your plan frees you up to manage time more effectively, which helps you achieve in business and personal life simultaneously.

4.     Take the stress out of leadership

Sue Firth, an occupational psychologist and expert on stress, always emphasises a key point – remembering that stress isn’t all bad.

You thrive on stress and pressure to some degree; they’ve helped you get where you are today. So you don’t want to eliminate all stress, you want to ensure it’s a positive force helping you thrive in business and family life.

For example, Sue emphasises the importance of relaxing for at least 2 hours at the end of each day (watch her 3-minute YouTube clip on the subject). Giving yourself a break helps you tackle your to-do list with renewed focus and ensures you have the stamina to give everything the attention it deserves.

‘Remember that before you were a CEO you were a human being’

That quote always gets a chuckle in Vistage meetings because it’s easy to forget you’re not superhuman. But if you’re always going at 100 mph you won’t be an effective leader because no one will be able to keep up with you (not to mention the personal and business issues you’ll experience).

Taking the time to prioritise and relax helps you slow down, which makes you, your family and friends happier while making you a more inspirational leader.

Get practical tips on honing your leadership style and inspiring your team. Download: The Business Leader’s Library. Volume 6: Leadership

Business Leader's Library. Volume 6: Leadership and Decision-Making




Work on your business, not in it
Make better decisions
Gain different perspectives



Challenge & develop leaders
Know that what you do matters
Be part of an elite community



Inspire today’s business leaders
Lead and clarify thinking
Join a world-class speaker network