How To Be A Balanced Leader

September 5, 2016 - 4 minutes read

Being A Balanced Leader Begins With Two Concepts

Being a balanced leader means that you are presenting yourself to your team in a consistent manner. There are two key components to this approach.

The first is taking the time to care personally about your team.

The second is learning how to challenge them directly.

As Kim Scott outlines in Radical Candor – The Surprising Secret to Being A Good Boss, “The single most important thing a boss can do is focus on guidance: giving it, receiving it, and encouraging it.” By finding the right balance and implementing these two concepts, leaders will find that they’re in a position to get the most out of their teams.

Care Personally

Caring personally doesn’t mean that you as a leader need to be best friends with your team members. What it means is that you’re taking the time to get to know them. What are their career aspirations, what motivates them, and what is it that they enjoy working on the most? Care about them as a person. Do they have a family? What are their hobbies? Make management personal by asking your team how they’re doing and genuinely listen and care. When your team thinks that you care, they will care for you and their work in return.

Challenge Directly

Not only are leaders responsible for providing guidance for their teams, but they’re also responsible for pushing their teams to do their best. Just like caring, it takes lots of work to find the right balance when it comes to challenging your team. The best rule of thumb to use is honesty. Always be open with your team and although there might be moments in time where there will be difficult conversations, you do a disservice to your team by not speaking up. Let your team know when they’re doing well and let them know when they’re not meeting expectations. A big part of a leader’s role is to make sure their team members are on the right track.

Finding The Balance

Caring for your team coupled with challenging them is a delicate balancing act. The best way to depict this balance is by looking at the following quadrant:

care challenge

The x-axis represents challenging your team directly and the y-axis represents caring about your team personally. The ideal balance is to be in the quadrant where you have a nice balance of caring personally about your team and challenge them appropriately.

At first glance, this seems like a straight-forward task however research shows that a majority of leaders fall in the upper-left quadrant. They care about their teams but don’t challenge them. This means that when it comes time to having to challenge your team, the recipient will be caught off guard. It’s easy to see the downfalls of the bottom two quadrants as well.

When it comes to finding balance as a leader, strive to find the right amount of caring coupled with a nice blend of challenging directly. Be consistent with this approach and you’ll find the leadership balance you’re looking for.

Want to practice being a balanced leader? Research leadership training opportunities to help get you on your way.

Read last week’s leadership tip: How Leaders Take Time Off