Note to My Workaholic Boss

Working for you is not working for me.

It was great at first. I admired your skills, work-ethic and amazing productivity. I got a rush from your energy and wanted to be just like you: the fast-tracker.

You were the superstar up-and-coming leader who was everywhere, who did everything and who knew everyone. I do appreciate all you’ve taught me.

And I’ve gone faster and farther in my career by drafting behind you.

But I have to tell you …

1. I have priorities other than just work, but that doesn’t mean I’m not committed to my work.

I want to be able to make commitments outside of work – like eating dinner with my family, putting my kids to bed, seeing a movie with a friend or volunteering at the food bank. I like working, and I like other things, too. I no longer want to work 24/7 – like you do. I’m tired of skipping exercise and cancelling dinners, vacations and other outside commitments “until things slow down.” (They never slow down.)

2. I don’t have to do my career the way you do to be successful.

Maybe I won’t get promoted as quickly. That’s ok. My definition of success is broader than career achievement, and I will be unsuccessful overall in life if I focus only on work.

3. You stress me out and everyone around you.

I have a high standard of excellence and put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve it. But your expectations – for yourself and others – are way over the top. Do you really think it’s reasonable to email me regularly at 9pm and expect a response that night? And working 12+ hour days is ok in an occasional crunch mode, but that’s not a normal way of operating. You go beyond creating a sense of urgency to a stench of urgency.

4. You are on a path to crash and burn.

You are a heart attack or nervous breakdown waiting to happen. I’m also afraid you will sacrifice time with your spouse and kids one too many times and permanently damage those relationships. And I’m heading for the same crash unless I get off this crazy train.

5. You are burning out me and others.

How many people need to leave your team before you get it? And how long will you tell yourself, “they didn’t measure up?” Look in the mirror for the main cause of your stress, retention, employee engagement and recent productivity problems. Even if you can sustain your approach without self-destructing, you can’t run your organization like this for the long term and expect good results on a “balanced scorecard.”

I also need to tell you that I will not be working this weekend. (Why do I feel guilty telling you that I’m not working this weekend?!) I found a new job in another city and will be out of town house-hunting. Please consider this my two weeks notice.

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Joe Baker is a Partner with PeopleResults. As a leadership consultant and executive coach, he helps senior leaders succeed in work while staying off the crazy train. You can reach him at or on Twitter @JoeBakerJr