Balancing Act: Navigating Work-Life Integration as a Woman Leader

work-life balance for women leaders

You may be surprised to learn that around 52% of Australian employees report their work-life balance as being average to poor. Achieving a good work-life balance can be a balancing act for anyone, and female leaders are no exception.  

The heavy workloads and competing demands that come with leadership mean that many women leaders can struggle to strike the right balance between their time spent working and the time spent doing other things, which can leave them feeling stressed, frustrated, and burnt out. One study found that women tend to have a better work-life balance than men unless they are in a managerial or leadership role, in which case their work-life balance is likely to be worse. 

For this reason, it is important that women in leadership are equipped with the tools and resources they need to be able to navigate life as a leader, whilst creating a good work-life balance that puts their own mental health and wellbeing first. Here are some steps that women leaders can take to achieve a good work-life balance: 

 9 Ways Women Leaders Can Find Work-Life Balance

  • Set boundaries: Setting clear boundaries between one’s work life and personal life is one of the best ways for female leaders to create a good work-life balance. For example, women leaders might decide that they finish work at 5 or 6pm each day, and that they will not look at work emails again until the next morning (rather than spending the entire evening and night responding to emails).
  • Learn to say “no”: Many women in leadership find themselves constantly taking on more and more – whether that’s more responsibilities or additional tasks. Sometimes, female leaders may be happy to take on these extra tasks or responsibilities, but other times, they might already be feeling stressed or burnt out and in need of a break. In these cases, it is important that women leaders feel empowered enough to be able to say “no” to these extra things, particularly when they feel they will have a negative impact on their wellbeing.
  • Delegate, delegate, delegate: One of the most common mistakes made by female leaders is that they attempt to “do everything”, which can leave them feeling exhausted and burnt out. It is important that women in leadership feel supported and empowered to delegate within their teams. By delegating, women leaders can let their teams take care of lower-level tasks that do not require their personal attention, leaving them more time to focus on higher level tasks that demand their personal expertise. In turn, this will free up more time for them overall, allowing them to enjoy more free time and a better work-life balance.
  • Learn to prioritise: Another common trap can be attempting to “do everything at once”. It is important for female leaders to be able to prioritise their workload and focus on the most urgent or important tasks first whilst knowing the less important or less urgent tasks will still be there for them to complete later. This way, women leaders can keep on top of their workload without risking taking on too much at once.
  • Plan ahead: Time management and organisation can go a long way in creating a good work-life balance. By planning ahead and managing your time well, you can eliminate a lot of pressure that can come with situations when you leave tasks until the last minute and are suddenly scrambling to get everything done on time. Staying organised and on top of your time management can help prevent you from falling behind, which can make it easier for you to stick to your scheduled “work time” and “personal time”.
  • Schedule your time: Although many female leaders technically have “work time” and “personal time”, they can often find that the lines end up becoming blurred and their work time ends up taking up a lot (or all) of their personal time. One way that women leaders can overcome this is by setting rigid schedules around their work hours and personal commitments. For example, they might block out three hours every day after work where they intend to engage in self-care and fulfil personal and family commitments. By scheduling dedicated personal time in, this can make it easier for women leaders to stick to this and prevent work time from carrying over into personal time. 
  • Put your own mental health and wellbeing first: Self-care plays an important role in ensuring our positive mental and emotional wellbeing. Despite this, around 20% of women report feeling like they have no time for self-care. Although finding time for self-care can often feel like an impossible task, particularly for female leaders who demanding schedules and heavy workloads, it is definitely something that should be prioritised where possible. Whether it’s exercising, meditating, or spending time pursuing a hobby or interest, self-care can help to bolster the mental health, emotional wellbeing, and resilience of women leaders.
  • Be flexible and realistic: As a female leader, it is important to understand that there will be times when you have to work longer hours or there will be some kind of crisis or emergency that will mean your work time flows over into your personal time. The key here is to be realistic about what your work-life balance will be like as a female leader, and also flexible and adaptable enough to be able to adjust your schedule and re-prioritise as and when necessary. 
  • … and most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help! As women leaders, we often feel pressure to be able to do everything and handle everything ourselves. However, this is not a realistic or healthy mindset to have. It’s okay to ask for help and support when you need it – whether that means delegating within your team, talking to a friend or colleague, or seeking support from your family. Also, find yourself a mentor. Being a female leader can mean a lot of responsibility and a lot of hard work, so having a mentor who is also a female leader, and who has walked the path before you, can prove invaluable when times get tough and you’re feeling overwhelmed and in need of someone to talk to. 

As you can see, there are many different approaches that women in leadership roles can take to ensure they have a good work-life balance. Given the importance of creating a work-life harmony and the impacts this can have on one’s mental health and wellbeing, creating a good work-life balance is often a focus of many women’s leadership programs, which aim to equip women with the skills they need to excel as a female leader. 


Caroline Kennedy is an award-winning CEO with a track record of leading multinational companies with up to $250 million in revenue. She is also the founder of Empowering Women Leaders: Awaken the Powerful Leader Within – a transformative six-week program designed to help women master the art of leadership. If you’re ready to unleash your hidden potential and become the leader that you were always meant to be, find out more at 

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