If you have ever tried to walk more than a step or two on something narrow, you know that your balance is the most important factor for your success. Lean too far in either direction and you will fall. As a leader, you might feel like you are sometimes walking a tightrope, trying to navigate complexity and trying not to fall. In the same way, your leadership balance is the ultimate key to your success or failure as a leader.
Unfortunately for us, unlike walking on a curb which requires only physical balance, the dimensions on which we are tested and the complexity of the balance we must maintain as a leader are far more challenging. And likely more important. Here are just of few of the dimensions upon which we must balance.
The task/people balance
As a leader, you have work to do and people to lead. Some leaders are extremely task focused to the detriment of the team, morale, and engagement. Others lean too far towards the people and their feelings to the detriment of the work output. You must constantly consider both the work and the workers, the outcomes and others if you want to lead successfully.
The ask/tell balance
As the leader, you have great responsibilities, so people will look to you for input and decisions. Do you choose to ask for input or provide answers? There is a time for each. You have likely seen the negative effects of leaders leaning too far in either direction on this dimension of balance.
The urgent/important balance
Whether a leader or not, the draw of the urgent is important. Yes, we must get things done when required. Yet staying in the urgent creates short-sightedness and constant reaction. The best leaders can operate successfully in the urgent but can also stop and focus on the important tasks, stepping above and outside of the urgent.
The know/learn balance
The best leaders exhibit a level of confidence based on what they know – and that knowledge is one reason people choose to follow. Yet a leader who is no longer learning, who refuses to admit the need to learn, can’t survive for very long.
The up/down balance
Do you know a leader who focuses all their attention upward, trying to succeed by pleasing and catering to their superiors? Alternatively, do you know leaders who are solely focused on their team without seemingly acknowledging direction from above? As a leader, you are a member of at least two teams – the team of your peers and the team you lead. Finding the balance in your focus here is critical to your success.
Have you noticed that when you are balancing yourself you never quite reach equilibrium? Rather, you are always adjusting side-to-side. The same is true with each of these leadership balance points. The best leaders strive for the right balance in the moment, they don’t search for some perfect balance point with no need for future thought or adjustment.
While I hope you will consider each of these dimensions of balance individually, I hope that the larger idea of avoiding extremes and consciously maintaining your balance will become a part of your thoughts and actions as a leader forever.
Understanding and finding your leadership balance is one way for leaders to take the next step in their development. This is one example of the types of practical and next-level skill development we explore and practice in our From Manager to Remarkable Leader learning experience. This two-day session is full of insights and opportunities to learn from me and your peers too. Learn more, find dates, and get registered here.
If you are looking for a low-risk way to try this workshop for your organization, check this out to see if you qualify.