When I was interviewing for my first dean position two decades ago, I was asked in an open forum if I was a workaholic. I responded that, while I wasn’t sure what this person’s definition of a workaholic was, I didn’t think I was one.
I commented that I had three elementary-age children and I thought it was important for them to know their mother. Some days, I would probably work 14–16 hours, but I would leave the office by 5:30 p.m. most days. I might take work home with me to complete after the kids’ bedtime, but I would try to be present for my family as much as I could. I said I would exceed the expectations set for me.
My first boss during that job supported my work-life balance, which allowed me to be successful. My children played a variety of sports and were in theater and choir. Did I get to attend every event they were in? No, but I made most of them, and have no regrets.
Arians indicated that he had to miss events important to his family and he didn’t want his assistant coaches to do so. He felt so strongly about it that he said he would fire people if they did.
While I would love to work with Arians, that’s not going to happen. So the next best thing I can do is to adopt his expectation that people who work with me not miss important events in their family members’ lives. I want to create a culture that understands the people side of the business, not just the rules side. And if there are rules that prevent our organization from allowing employees to come first, we need to change our rules.