Several years ago, a friend of mine returned to a company he’d worked for previously. The company was under new ownership and he saw the potential for the new direction of the company. Over the years, his role grew and he took on more leadership as he was placed in charge of more departments.
He was used to being involved in daily operations, but as more responsibilities were place on him, he was struggling to find enough time to get it all done. He started handing off some of his previous duties to other employees. He entrusted others to train new employees. He worked really long hours trying to get everything done.
The more he moved into his new role, the more he started noticing more mistakes happening and with increased frequency. He worked longer hours to fix the mistakes. He found his health declining since he had little time to exercise or eat regular (and healthy) meals. His frustration and stress levels increased. A low grade fear that he was failing began to infiltrate his thoughts daily.
Balance starts within.
How many of you reading this recognize this story? Imbalance often leaves us grasping for something external , a way to numb the insecurity and fear with food, exercise, alcohol/drugs, video games, shopping, or tv. Balance has to begin within.
The first step is to center and become grounded. Staring every day with even 5-10 minutes of silence. I particularly like adding gratitude to the mix- a perspective sift to what’s in the glass verses what’s not in the glass, because where your focus goes, your energy flows. All of us would like a fullness to the glass, rather than an empty glass. Throughout the day, a return to this stillness, even for three slow, deep breaths, can help shift the craziness back into a more manageable state.
When you are grounded and not sucked into the drama, chaos, or fear, you can practice creativity. It is easy to get into a rut of problems having a limited number of solutions, yet when we’re able to look at the problem from a bigger picture, there may be more solutions available. Likewise, it’s far easier to ask someone else to solve our problem than finding the solution ourselves, which cuts of creativity.
When we seek solutions from others or blame others for our situation, we give our power away. Taking a pause to looking at our part in the problem and seeking solutions is powerful. Sometimes that requires dropping our own expectations of how others should be and seeing them as they are, allows us to redirect our energy more effectively and efficiently.
Brene Brown writes in Rising Strong about a question her therapist asked that then drove Ms. Brown’s research, “Are they doing the best they can?” In the moment, most people are doing the best they can, even when we can see their potential and capacity as otherwise.
If we allow a little space for accepting them as they are in that moment, verses how we expect them to be, we practice compassion. This opens up our ability to communicate without the blame, shame, and guilt that stifles communication. The shift directs the conversation to the actions verses the person and opens room for dialog verses shutting the person down because they feel they are being attacked.
Balanced leadership cannot happen without all of the previous steps. A balanced leader has a vision and trusts his/her instincts. How many times have you had a git feeling about a situation or a person and dismissed it only to realize your instinct was on the mark and cost time, energy, and money?
Additionally, a balanced leader stays connected to his/her team. People are people and as much as we’d love to think we can shut out what’s happening in our lives the minute we walk through the door at work, most people can’t. Humans are not really built that way. You can squeeze blood from a turnip. You can’t expect someone to give 100% if they’re running on 60%. Knowing what matters to your team at work and away from work, knowing what’s going on in their lives- are they happy or not- helps us lead more effectively.
How are you leading? What has been successful for you? I would love to hear. Leave a comment below. If something in this article touches you and you would like some help developing your personal balanced leadership skills, let’s chat!