Life is full of conflicting priorities, or at least modern life is.
We want it all, we expect it all, and the world around us also expects us to be it all. Or that’s how it seems.
We often talk about leadership balance in terms of work life and home life. But there’s more to leadership balance than that. There’s the component which needs you to balance the now with the future – not just for your sake, but for your team. It’s called ‘being in the moment’ or being ‘present’. It’s about being in the moment, and being flexible in ever changing environments with increasingly competing priorities.
When I am anxious it is because I am living in the future. When I am depressed it is because I am living in the past. – Author unknown.
Being present, and creating real connections with those around you will make you stand out as a leader. This isn’t a new concept in leadership. When people describe their meetings with Oprah Winfrey, it’s often said that she makes you feel like you are the only person in the room. This is presence, this is being in the moment.
Bigger than the one on one connections, this strategy encourages, being mindful in leadership and seeking that balance has a greater effect than just relationship building.
When you are faced with high pressure situations and moving goal posts, it can be easy to get caught up in worst case scenarios in your head, which take away your focus and shift your mindset in a direction that isn’t helpful.
Forever is composed of nows. ― Emily Dickinson
Being in the moment can be a hard concept to define, so let’s consider the opposite and the negative consequences to better describe the benefits. Schedule a lunch with your friend to celebrate their birthday, on the same day as a meeting when you are giving a presentation to the Board or potential new investors. Can you focus on the person in front of you? Are you present? Highly unlikely.
This is where balance comes in. There are going to be times when you cannot avoid scheduling two conflicting and special events on the one day. It’s sometimes unavoidable, and you can manage these best you can.
But where you have control and choice, try to avoid this wherever possible if you want the best outcome. Don’t undertake team performance reviews in the same week your daughter has a dance recital for example, or schedule major presentations the week after an unavoidable break from work due to family commitments.
There will be times when your personal life needs to take precedence and the balance is skewed. There might be a large family event, or your child is undertaking major exams, or someone you care for is unwell. Where possible we pull back at work, consciously or not, as our focus is elsewhere. This is ok, if managed well and communicated with your team if appropriate. You may be able to delegate or postpone task in this time, or give a co-worker an opportunity to step up and learn new skills in your absence. If assistance is required, then seek it. This is a leadership strength in itself.
Alternatively, your business life will sometimes consume your time and thoughts, due to a massive project or deadline. The roll out or launch of a new product or service, or a massive industry shift that changes the landscape and future, for example. When these kinds of events occur it’s going to be near impossible to focus on much else, and you may need extra support and understanding in your personal life to balance the conflicting priorities. Once again, communicate and ask for help. Give those around you extra responsibility and a learning opportunity, or employ some domestic or home support if you can.
You can’t be all things to all people all of the time. No one else expects this of you, nor should you expect this of yourself!
Self-awareness, being mindful and in the moment, is not just an essential leadership skill, it’s potentially the most important. Practice the skill and shift the scales in your favour, for the benefit of all the teams you lead.