Why Friendships are Valuable to Women in Leadership

Jan 22, 2019

 

“It’s all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family.”- Philip Green

As a woman, nurturing your friendships can get lost in the hustle and bustle of your busy life. Pursuing or being in a leadership position comes with increased responsibilities and long work hours. Couple this with raising a family and trying to squeeze in some me-time, it can result in putting your friendships on the back burner.  The journey of graduating from college and then moving on to graduate school, can change the way you live your life. You may have moved to a different, unfamiliar location which makes it difficult to sustain the close relationships that you once had with your friends. It also brings on the new challenge of trying to get to know new people and establish new friendships.

As a woman advances in her career, it’s important to maintain those friendships she had in her younger years. Your life will begin to take on new challenges like marriage, divorce, children, aging parents, and career transitions. Having someone in your corner to support you through these changes can make all the difference.

There are many benefits to sustaining friendships:

Acceptance

As a woman in leadership, sometimes you may feel like you are not accepted by your male coworkers. You are trying to figure out how to be present at work and also be available to take time off if a child is sick or to attend a school function. You may also struggle with the feeling that you are not accepted because of the perception that you’re not putting in as much time at home or work. Knowing that you have friends who accept you for who you are and who understand your career aspirations and struggles, will help to boost your self-confidence and promote a positive mindset.

Emotional and Mental Well-Being

Women in leadership positions are usually in high stress professions. The day to day demand of the job along with the micro-aggressions you may face in the workplace can affect your mental and emotional health. Friendships help to reduce your stress and anxiety about the choices you must make as a woman in leadership. Friendships inspire you to be your best, they lift you up when you need support and can help you change your outlook for the better.

Balance

Work life balance is important for your physical and mental well-being. Being able to take time off to spend with friends and just have fun can give you the boost you need to push through the day. The meaningful, interpersonal bond you have with friends, can help you to live a healthier, more balanced life.

Your girlfriends who are your sisters, mothers, aunties, college buddies and co-workers, are the women who help you celebrate the good times and support you during the tough times. If you want to restore balance to your life, reconnect or strengthen your relationship with your friends.

Here are some ways to strengthen your friendships:

Reconnect with an old friend

Is there an old friend, who often comes up in conversation, that you miss talking to or hanging out with? Reach out to an old friend that you have not heard from recently. After you make the first contact, see where the conversation and the relationship take you. Be patient, it takes time to build friendships.

Support a friend

There is nothing like the support of a friend, who shows up when least expected. Sometimes you may not be proactive about supporting each other because of distance or time. As women, it’s important that we support each other. Support may come in the form of helping a friend who just suffered a loss or is going through an illness. A phone call, offering help with childcare, lending a listening ear or offering a shoulder to cry on goes a long way. It can also be supporting a friend’s business or dream. Lending support strengthens your bond and your friend will provide the same support for you when needed.

Forgive a friend

Forgiveness is essential to our emotional well-being. Carrying around anger and resentment can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic illnesses. Forgiveness is not about condoning the behavior, but about freeing yourself from the toxic feelings you harbor and allowing joy into your life. Know that one wrong deed by a person does not dampen your ability to establish long- lasting relationships with others.

Plan a girls’ night out

Spending quality time together is important for maintaining long-lasting friendships because it allows you to detach from the stresses of our everyday life. Spending time with friends has been shown to improve your mood. So, set an appointment for spending time with your bestie and make this time just as important as your other dates. Make your friend feel special and worthy of your time.

Friends can improve the quality of your life by filling your time with laughter, compassion, fun activities, positive reinforcement and conversations that broaden your viewpoint and take your mind off work. You can thrive in your career and at home with the love and caring of a good friend.

Lisa Herbert, M.D. is a Physician Success Coach who helps overwhelmed women physician leaders find their voice, prioritize self-care, balance work and family and advance as leaders in the healthcare industry .

This post is part of an excerpt taken from Dr. Herbert's published book available now on Amazon, Take Back Your Life: A Working Mom's Guide to Work-Life Balance.

 

 

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