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Bringing Work Home Is Good For You After All

New research from DDI shows leadership skills learned at work improve interactions at home.

Pittsburgh—Dozens of research studies show that better leadership at work positively impacts employee engagement, retention and numerous other business metrics. But is there an overlooked benefit to the money companies spend on developing their leaders?

A recent Personnel Psychology1 article sheds light on the direct impact leaders’ home lives have on their ability to lead at work and the consequences for their teams. The authors contend that worrying about family issues at work carries over and consumes and depletes energy, positive mood and mental resilience—correlating family-to-work conflict with job burnout. Researchers at Development Dimensions International (DDI) wanted to ask another question. If leaders apply their leadership skills at work, are they likely to apply them at home in family and personal interactions as well? To answer this question, DDI surveyed 100 leaders who recently participated in one or more DDI courses to develop their leadership skills. Here’s what we discovered:

Finding #1: The good news for companies that invest in leadership development—99 percent of respondents applied the leadership skills they learned at work to their jobs. More specifically, 73 percent had the opportunity to apply their training frequently and 26 percent had opportunities to apply it moderately.

Finding #2: The more leaders used their leadership skills on the job, the more likely they were to benefit from these skills at home. Of the 73 percent of respondents who frequently applied leadership skills learned at work to their jobs, 97 percent applied these skills outside work with some to considerable increase in effectiveness. For this group, the most frequently used skills they got better at were: listening more effectively (96 percent); maintaining the esteem of others

(95 percent); providing positive recognition (95 percent); dealing with challenging or difficult situations (91 percent); providing emotional support to others (89 percent); sharing thoughts and feelings (89 percent); and seeking the opinion of others (82 percent).

Finding #3: Even when there were moderate opportunities to apply learned leadership skills at work, when applied at home, interactions improved. For the 26 percent who moderately applied the leadership skills learned to their jobs, more than two-thirds (69 percent) applied these skills outside work with some or considerable increase in effectiveness. Growing confidence in their ability to use these skills outside of work may also result in improved confidence for application of their leadership skills back at work.

Crossover Skills Matter

The ability to facilitate effective interactions is critical at every level of leadership and is equally essential outside the workplace. These interactions are made up of thousands of conversations leaders have every day when dealing with new customers, launching new products, talking with a spouse or coaching a child’s team. DDI’s trend research, Driving Workplace Performance Through High-Quality Conversations: What Leaders Must Do Every Day to Be Effective, has more information on the behaviors that reinforce leader effectiveness and details the skills needed to address the practical and personal sides of interactions both at work and at home. For more information visit: Bringing Work Home Is Good For You After All.

1Brummelhuis, L., Haar, J., & Roche, M. (2013, Oct.). Does Family Life Help To Be a Better Leader? Personnel Psychology, Volume 67, Issue 4, 917-949.

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Available for Interviews:

William C. Byham Ph.D., Development Dimensions International (DDI) Chairman and CEO

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