On Friday, June 15, 2012 Nik Wallenda crossed over Niagara Falls, suspended 200 feet in the air, on a wire, 20 stories high, over raging waters, through blinding thick mist and gusting winds, in the dark of night.
And you thought leadership was the ultimate balancing act.
Truth is, leadership is a balancing act that few master and from which many have fallen. The key to finding balance as a leader is knowing that you cannot balance everything. You can’t walk on two wires at once. There are only so many plates you can keep spinning in the air at the same time. Even the best jugglers have a limit.
What are the things we must keep in balance as a leader? Where should we keep or focus and attention? Let me suggest three:
First, we need to be balanced in the way we treat people. Your success as a leader will have more to do with how you treat people than with how smart you are. People want to work for someone that is fair and reasonable in the way they make decisions, especially decisions about people. If you were to ask your people to rank you on how you balance “Justice” where would you land? Would they say you are fair and reasonable? Or would they say you are partial, biased, discriminatory, or prejudiced?
Second, we need to be balanced in the way we respond to those in need. How would the people who know you well describe your “Mercy” balance? Would they say you are concerned, kind, sympathetic, compassionate, sensitive, and understanding? Or would they describe you as cold, callous, heartless, insensitive, and uncaring?
Third, we need a balanced in the way we see ourselves. I call this one the “Humility” balance, also known as the Golden Rule. Would the people who know you well describe you as modest, respectful, always looking for the best in others? Or would they say you are conceited, egotistical, proud, and filled with your own self-importance?
One missed step by Nik Wallenda would have be a disaster for him. One missed step by you could be a disaster as well for you, your team, your organization, and your supporters or investors. Which one do you think is really the most important balancing act.
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8 NIV)