Leadership Is Balance

 In Blog

by Dr. Barry E. Winders

Recently, my family attended an SEC basketball game in Nashville, TN between the University of Kentucky and the Vanderbilt Commodores.  We were so excited to attend and the seats we had were close to the court.  The halftime show was the Red Panda balancing act…an Asian unicyclist who balances multiple bowls on her head.  Now, we weren’t there to see the Red Panda. We were there to see our favorite team, the Kentucky Wildcats, play basketball.  Surprisingly, something happened during the halftime show.  We became entranced by the Red Panda performance.  We joined the oo’s and ah’s of the audience when she flipped 3 bowls on top of her head at the same time which soon multiplied to 10 bowls. She did all of this while riding the unicycle and moving to different quadrants of the court.

I have to say that there is something magnetic about watching a balancing act. Observing a balanced leader is just as absorbing.  I love to see a leader maintain their balance staying upright while orchestrating additional challenges.

Leadership is balance.  In times of crisis people need to know that their leaders are not rattled by uncertainty or overwhelming odds.  A balanced leader knows their inner balance and effectively communicates in both words and actions how their followers can overcome any challenge as long as the leader and followers do it together.  By doing so, their inner balance knows how to define the reality around them to accept all outcomes.

Two principles balanced leaders live by.

  • Know what weight of responsibility is yours and what isn’t.

Knowing the precise coordinates of where my responsibility ends and where the other person’s responsibility begins cannot be understated.  To not understand this principle often causes good leaders to feel overly responsible for others.  Then, in their minds, they seize the low ground of wanting to help and not being able to do anything.  After all, we cannot be responsible for someone else’s responsibility.  It may appear to be a solution but only leads to burnout and resentment.

  • Weigh the balance of honesty against protection.

Balanced leaders are aware of the internal struggle between being honest and being protective.  What does this mean?  When we are afraid to be honest, we aren’t protecting our followers. We are protecting ourselves from pushback.  It’s not easy to say the hard things.  Hiding behind a wall of self-protection will not make you safe.  This leaves you wanting to help but not being able to do anything because you’re in self-protection mode of your emotions and feelings.  Personal feelings can complicate decisions. Compassionate honesty illuminates decisions and makes them palatable to balanced leaders and their followers.

Barry Winders is author of The Mission Filter (Westbow Press, 2021) and available at Amazon.com

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