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Leadership Articles: TALKING LEADERSHIP

 

A Feature Article from Gaynor Consulting Inc.
September 2015   |   By Dan Gaynor

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Dynamic Balance

On weekends between mid December and mid April I spend my days coaching young downhill skiers. Today I'm thinking about an experience I had with these young athletes last season. I was trying to impress upon them the reality that good skiing is all about balance and it occurred to me that just like skiing, good leadership and a good life is all about balance.

Picture if you will our group of about a dozen young skiers gathered at the top of a favourite run. As I described the importance of balance I asked these athletes to purposefully move far forward and far back off centre to give them a better feel for being in the middle of their skis. I asked them to hop then settle back into a centred athletic position. During these exercises, and my attempts to describe balance, I had a breakthrough coaching moment when I understood the problem I had unwittingly created: these young athletes were trying to understand balance as a static state. We were standing relatively still. I switched tracks, I said, "Balance is not a static state, it's a dynamic state, it's all about movement. The hill, the slope, the changing snow conditions, are all working to take you out of balance. Your job is to continually adjust to stay in the middle of your skis." In an instant they understood, and we were on our way to better skiing.

I think life, and leadership, might just be a little like skiing. Changing conditions at work, with family and with personal interests all conspire to take us out of balance. I've been in periods where I had too much work, like cross country moves, labour disputes and integrations, and other times when I had too little. The same could be said of other parts of my life. To stay healthy we need a balance between work, family, recreation and rest, but it doesn't happen naturally. Like skiing, maintaining a healthy life requires us to see balance as a dynamic state. We are well advised to recognize the forces that are influencing us and constantly adjust to "stay in the middle of our skis."

To stay balanced we also need to know what a good balanced position looks and feels like. For me it is meaningful work, time to enjoy family and friends, and time for recreation (skiing and horses go into this category.) I've come to see it all as a three-legged stool. I would also include a good night's sleep as essential. I need to keep the legs of the stool balanced or risk a crash. Get out of balance for too long and you will crash physically, emotionally, or on both fronts.

You won't have the energy, focus, or passion you need to lead really well without balance. The people you lead won't be able to give you their best without it. Promoting balance corporately and striving for it personally just makes good sense. Want to go deeper on good leadership? Check out the book, The Heart and Hands of Leadership: The Twelve Timeless Practices of Effective Leaders, available in soft cover and in all major e-book formats.

Discussion questions:

  1. How would you describe the things that must be in place for you to feel balanced?
  2. What tends to take you out of balance most often?
  3. Is balance valued in the workplace you are part of?

To go deeper on leadership call or write about a half day workshop or a keynote address.

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A Feature Article from Gaynor Consulting Inc.
September 2015   |   By Dan Gaynor

 

Has this article sparked some thinking?
Join our blog Talking Leadership here to share it with other readers.



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