As part of a leadership program I’m in, I recently spent time talking with senior leaders about their philosophies and styles.  

One of the most striking differences among the people I talked to was the value they placed on external commitments.  For some, involvement in the community, boards, national associations and other similar forms of volunteer service were an essential part of the role.  Another believed it to be more prudent to minimize the time away from the home office and to focus on the internal work at hand.

Both are right for their personality, length in the position and the environment they are leading.  What I took away from the conversation was that opportunities will present themselves, and it is best if you have an intentional strategy of how to evaluate them and respond.

Even if you are not the CEO, you will likely be faced with similar decisions at any point in your career.  Do you coach Little League or serve your professional organization? Will being a Girl Scout leader allow you to still be visible at events on campus?  Do you need to choose between serving on the school board and leading a major project at work?

Knowing how much time to spend “in” and how much to devote to “out” has consequences either way.  Evaluate what you give and what you get before you make a decision.

— beth triplett

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