Work and play are often thought of as being diametrically opposed. After all, there’s a reason one is called “work” and the other is called “play,” right?

This doesn’t have to be the case.

To be successful in life and work requires a healthy balance between the two - work hobby. Beyond that, though, participating in hobbies and activities outside of work can have a variety of positive effects on your leadership abilities including:

  • decision-making
  • systematic thinking
  • creativity
  • confidence

The Work Hobby That will Make You a Better Leader

Maybe you already have one of the hobbies below. Maybe there’s one you’d like to try or another one you’ve never considered before. Either way, it won’t hurt to break out of the comfort zone of your regular routine. All these offer the chance to positively impact both your personal life and professional leadership skills. Below are the 10 hobbies to make you a better leader at work:

1. Acting

Work hobby: Acting.

Image: CC0 Mikali via Pixabay.

First Rain's Penny Herscher points out: “If you are a leader, you are a performer. … and you need to do it in a way that is authentic and trustworthy – an interesting balancing act!”

Why not take this one step further? Check out your local community theater or other performance options around town. You’ll develop the ability to deliver your lines, control your breath and body, and how to perform confidently on the outside even if you’re nervous on the inside.

2. Board Games

work hobby board games

Image: CC0 Public Domain Pinoyvideogamer via Pixabay.

Whether it’s Risk or Monopoly or a rousing round of Trivial Pursuit, playing board games provides multiple positive experiences, everything from working within a closed system of rules, negotiation skills, and learning to lose (and win!) gracefully.

3. Exercise

work hobby exercise

Image: CC By 2.0 Thoroughly Reviewed via Flickr.

Regular exercise – even 20 to 30 minutes several times a week – can improve cognitive abilities. And, as a leader, you’re constantly making decisions and solving problems which require a clearheaded focus. This is a great work hobby to include in your everyday life. 

4. Playing a Musical Instrument

work hobby of man playing musical instruments

Image: CC0 Public Domain via PXHere.

Much like regular exercise, playing a musical instrument can improve your abstract thinking skills. It can also increase creativity, build confidence, and relieve stress, all of which will enhance your performance on the job and while leading others.

5. Reading

work hobby of a girl reading books

Image: CC- Public Domain via PX Here.

Michael Hyatt, CEO of the leadership development firm Michael Hyatt & Company, identifies five ways that reading makes you a better leader:

  • increases cognitive abilities
  • improve your people skills
  • helps you communicate better
  • enables you to relax
  • keeps you young

6. Sports

team sports work hobby

Image: CC0 Public Domain Tomas Workman via Pixabay.

Team sports, as opposed to just exercising on your own, offer their own benefits in addition to better health and increased fitness. Entrepreneur and business consultant Robert Cordray writes that sports also require us to perform when we don’t feel up to our best, keep trying until we get things right, understand that practice leads to results, and how to step up when the circumstances demand it, all qualities of effective leaders.  

7. Travel

travel work hobby

Image: CC0 Public Domain A-Lily via Pixabay.

Bruce Poon Tip, the founder of the adventure travel company G Adventures, has made a career out of constantly traveling to countries around the world. From those experiences, he writes about the leadership skills he’s learned. These include appreciating diversity, pushing beyond your comfort zone, and inspiring innovation.  

8. Volunteering

volunteering work hobby

Image: CC By 2.0 Daniel Thornton via Flickr.

When you take the time to volunteer, you put yourself in the center of a different environment, learn how to do new things, and become empowered through helping others. Want to find opportunities to volunteer in your community? Check out LinkedIn.

9. Writing

writing work hobby

Image: CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay.

Real leaders make real connections with people, and writing can be the process by which meaningful relationships are created. Influence & Co. CEO John Hall writes: “Writing is more than an escape for teenagers with journals or artists who lock themselves away in cabins to focus on their craft – it’s an invaluable tool that helps leaders organize their thoughts and create genuine, human connections with their audiences.”

10. Yoga

yoga work hobby

Image: CC0 Public Domain Andi P via Pixabay.

Everyone who attended Steve Jobs’ funeral received a copy of Autobiography of a Yogi because of the impact yoga had on his life. Yoga builds some of the skills identified above – confidence and creativity – while also reducing stress. It also develops mindfulness, the ability to be in the moment and acknowledge feelings and sensations while simultaneously being detached from them.   

Make Your Hobby Work for You

Remember: You don’t need half a dozen hobbies going at the same time. Instead, pick one or two to do on a regular basis or at least try out for a few weeks to see if they’re a good fit.

In addition, actively schedule time for your hobby. Otherwise, it may become lost in the shuffle of your day-to-day routine. If you have trouble doing this, set up reminders on your smartphone. Avoiding leadership burnout means utilizing those activities and hobbies when you’re off the clock so you’ll be at your best when you return to work.

Need to find a hobby? Check out this comprehensive list to see which ones could be right for you.

Featured Image: CC0 Public Domain via PXHere.​​ 

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