Will Buggey

Will Buggey

Part-timer: 5 leadership & self-awareness lessons from doing less


Swapping full-time for part-time employment may yield unexpected new perspectives on self-awareness and leadership.

Alarm clock in front of half pink, half blue background

1. You should regularly reaffirm what leadership means to you

When you’re in amongst the office action at all times — and you hold these things in high regard — you may not realise the extent to which your values, approach and prioritisation of standards rub off on those around you. Things you’ve always done, expectations you’ve always set: these are what differentiate you, what set you apart. It’s possible you’ve never realised this, so fortunate were you to have had these established (and reinforced as norms) by those who influenced you in the nascent stages of your career. But what’s de rigueur for you may not be for everyone. Remove yourself 50% of the week, and you’ll notice new things when you are in that help clarify your perspectives, interpretations and philosophies.

2. You bring value from a different angle than you thought

You probably become a workplace hero (perhaps self-styled!) thanks to your ability to outperform others in the ‘doing’ stakes. You span plates better than the others and you could spin more of them too! There is a problem with this being your USP: if you’re suddenly around only half the time, you’ll be half (at best) the hero you were before... and that’s not going to cut it! Fortunately, your personal value proposition may have evolved without you realising – you are now trading on your ability to interpret and see better than others rather than to ‘do’ better than them. If you understand this and adapt accordingly, your influence (rather than presence) becomes the factor that keeps things around you synchronised and progressive.

3. You worked longer hours than you should have

If you’ve dropped to a 50% part-time arrangement, the reality is you were probably beforehand doing rather more than double your post-switch hours. In forcing yourself to apply serious focus to a project outside your day job, you are inviting a realisation that the commitment levels you offered your ‘day’ job previously may not have represented an optimal balance. If you are hammering long hours in the office, make sure you have a clear and actively-considered personal ROI perspective – passive decision making is poor decision making here given the complex, multi-faceted and interlinked nature of what’s at stake (career progression, family, legacy, fulfillment etc. etc.)

4. Succession should be continual and multi-dimensional

We tend to think of succession planning as “Who will take over my job?” Instead, we should see it as an ongoing, progressive handover of undertakings, relationships and responsibilities. These should be strategically allocated to individuals – the focus and trust you are demonstrating in doing so is highly valued and motivational. Delegating through necessity (simply not being around to maintain the duties) may prove a wake up call leadership wise for you – for the good of your people, consider whether you should be starting to actively manage the process now. Could your presence and availability be holding your team back?

5. You never stopped to think about your motivation

You’ve hopefully been fortunate to have worked for some memorable individuals whose leadership lessons have stuck with you and shaped your own approach as it has evolved. Perhaps you’ve had the opportunity to engage in psychometric profiling of every type imaginable, and the organisations you’ve worked for might all have been great investors in people and personal development. It’s easy, however, to fail to ask yourself what, really, you’re all about and what you are trying to achieve. Please take the time out to reflect and avoid subconsciously falling into what one might term “successful meandering” – you’ll make better career decisions if you provide yourself with actively-considered context along the way. For the avoidance of doubt, there’s nothing wrong with successful meandering if you’ve consciously and honestly deemed it optimal (and ensure you review that status regularly!)