Some of the people that I am working with to build their Portfolio Executive workstyles, are at a life stage where they want the flexibility to spend more time with members of the family. There can be a variety of reasons for this and the motivations can also be radically different. Here are a few examples that I have seen people grappling with over the years in which I have worked to help build their Portfolio Executive workstyle.
Children moving to Independence
This senior executive had children who were starting to move to independence: leaving home and going to university. He wanted an opportunity to spend more time with his wife. One of the things they were keen to do was spend more time working with and for each other. The Portfolio Executive workstyle gave them the opportunity to be front office and back office for each other and sometimes serve clients together. So that sounds like a wonderful aspiration, but how did it become a reality?
As one of them developed a role as a part-time CIO, the other developed a role as a part-time Head of Transformation. Each of them could lead or support. From time to time there would be clients who had a major transformation and needed CIO insight. Others required a part-time CIO with the support of transformation insight. So, they could collaborate to bring each of their skills to a particular client. They began to work as a couple.
Supporting an Elderly Parent
This Portfolio Executive wanted to ensure that they had time to support their elderly mother, increasingly affected by dementia. They were based in UK while their mother lived in mainland Europe. Their sister was carrying a lot of care responsibility, but they wanted to be able to play their part. The Portfolio Executive workstyle meant they could manage their lives to spend a week giving their sister some respite from their mother and use that week each month to do work for their clients off-site.
This was brought home to me recently when my 85-year-old father broke his hip. I needed to visit him in hospital and when, he came home, I had the flexibility to spend three or four nights or days a week staying with him. My wife covered the other three or four days, and together we could both do so without impacting our professional lives until he was sufficiently recovered to look after himself.
Many people believe you must be most available when your children are pre-school age. The expectation is that when they are at school you can step back and arrange pre- or after school care to work full time. It is easy to believe that when your children become teenagers, they will be more self-sufficient. You don’t really need to be around much at all. However, the reality can be different. Scheduling activities with your children is relatively easy when they are between five and twelve. For teenagers, you need to be available, to hang out, to be around. Being the taxi of Mum and Dad, gives you the opportunity for ad hoc conversations whilst you’re sat in a car. You need to be ready if a crisis happens. It could be mental health, bullying, addiction or relationships problems.
For this Portfolio Executive, they wanted a workstyle which made them available for their teenage children. Going beyond scheduling activities (that myth of ‘quality time’) they wanted to have time to be around when they came home from school or were revising at home for exams and free to support them in other ways. The Portfolio Executive workstyle has given them this wonderful opportunity to spend that unscheduled time, ferry them to and from University, go and be there for significant days in the diary of their offspring’s lives, which a full-time, salaried, permanent position might seriously constrain.
Family First or Family Too rather than Family Second
A Portfolio Executive workstyle gives you flexibility: the flexibility of working for clients where you may only need to be onsite for a half-day or one day a month; the flexibility when a lot of the work that you are doing is done remotely; the flexibility when you can manage up or down your commitment to a particular client. All this means that you can support, engage and offer love to your family in a different kind of way than perhaps you were able to as permanent, salaried, senior employee.
Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.