Leadership: Building Better Balance
What does the pinnacle of success look for you? Does it mean gaining wealth and riches? Is it about driving a fancy car and wearing expensive clothes? Perhaps it is just about career advancement and the status it brings to you.
What if you achieve all this and still feel unfulfilled?
There is an increasing realization that material success means little when millionaires and billionaires feel empty inside after achieving what most people would consider their dream. What leaders are now looking for is a balanced life where you get to make enough money to lead a comfortable life, minimize stress, enjoy some fun activities or hobbies in your free time, and spend enough time with family and friends.
It is the journey that is important and not the destination.
There’s More To Balance Than Just Work And Life
A leader has to balance between different roles in a company. This can be in the form of balancing the practical side of the business and the compassionate side for the team, balance between being a coach and giving employees freedom to grow on their own, and balancing between getting more work done and having enough free time to connect with fellow employees.
Each leader has multiple qualities that make her stand out and head a team. However, there are one or two qualities that are dominant in each one of us. You may be a good planner or have good discipline, or you could be a creative person. The trick to finding balance is to recognize these dominant traits and consciously balance them with other qualities when the situation demands it.
Balancing Your Leadership Style
One of the best ways of being an effective leader is knowing when to challenge your team and when to care about their personal growth. When you have to meet a deadline, you may find yourself being less caring about your team. Finding the right balance is not always easy.
Think of your leadership style as a graph with four quadrants. You can be a person who neither cares nor challenges your team, someone who cares but does not challenge, challenges but does not care, or a leader who challenges the team but also cares for them.
If you neither care nor challenge you will end up becoming a useless cog in the machine. If you care but do not challenge, your team will love you, but this will be at the cost of the company’s growth. If you only challenge and not care for your team, you will be seen as a tyrant.
What you should aim for is that sweet spot where you care about your team but also challenge them to do better and grow.
The world is arguably divided more than ever before in history. You take any topic from politics to society or business; people have a strong view. These views are more like strong positions that people take, often in opposition to another view.
You find such situations in business as well. You see this in meetings. Ask what the company’s action should be and you will find two opposing views emerge and each side strongly believes that their position is the right one.
What should you do when faced with such entrenched positions? It helps if the leader is interested in doing the right thing instead of being right. If you have such an open mind, you will be able to listen to the opposing side and not just listen to yourself.
Leaders should develop the habit of understanding the different sides of a story. You will be able to make much better decisions if you ask your team for different perspectives and you take the time to understand each point of view.
Balance Between Being Deliberate And Being Authentic
For years leaders have been “taught” how to behave. You are supposed to look a certain way, speak in certain lingo, and show confidence in every action in order to be perceived as a person the world will take seriously.
The school of thought that believed in this deliberate form of leadership is crumbling in the face of a new generation of leaders who are not afraid to show who they are. These young leaders are not afraid to be transparent about their mistakes or show their quirks to the world. They are comfortable with who they are.
Future leaders will need to have a blend of both worlds. You have to be authentic and stay true to who you are and at the same time learn to be deliberate in your actions.
Balancing Leadership With Friendship
This is a problem most first-time managers face, but it could be a common issue for all leaders. How do you balance your role as a leader with the friendships you have with your team. In other words, how do you set the boundaries?
For one thing, a leader should respect her team. There will be times when things get tough and you lose your patience. You lose friends because of an insensitive comment or a harsh word. A leader should control her emotions.
Tell your team to point out when you cross a line or say something you shouldn’t. This will help build trust and respect over time. At the same time, you should also make it clear that you have a role to play as a leader and show them that you can achieve your goals together.
We all need support systems to keep us on track, even leaders. Do you have people who you can rely on for honest feedback? Build a network of mentors who you can turn to for advice and guidance and you will grow as a leader.