Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Is one thing Selfish? - Leadership is about balance


I personally refer to our Saturday morning basketball pick-up games as the “Discovery Well Park League.” It sure makes it sound official and like quality basketball skills are demonstrated. The kids of some of the participants call it the “old man basketball league.” Some of our spouses just call it “an accident waiting to happen.” They are all right. This NY Times article by Bill Glovin from 15 Feb 2009 describes 50 year old hoop leagues better than I ever can (NY Times).

Sam had been missing, as some of us do now, and then for a couple months. When I asked him where he was, Sam said “life” had taken over and he had to reset Saturday mornings as a priority for himself. The statement made me think. As leaders, we are often servants to our teams, communities, religions and families. I know I need to work-out consistently to be the best to the people I serve. I have seen leaders that do not take the time to understand themselves, meet those needs and do the best for their teams.

Do you believe in this inner leader need? What is yours and how do you make time for it?

15 comments:

Klint Kendrick, MBA SPHR said...

I've had a lot of hobbies over the years, but the one I love most is Country-Western dancing. I'm on the board of Rain Country Dance Association and am volunteering as the chairman of our annual hoedown committee (http://www.raincountrydance.org/hoedown).

The dancing is part exercise, part socializing, part giving back to the community (I teach on occasion), but it's all about doing something different and recharging so I can come back to work and give my all.

Not everybody dances, but everybody has some sort of recreation that they enjoy, and being able to understand the need to take time for ourselves is a critical skill for leaders. Even if I can't connect with my colleagues' need to jump out of airplanes, hang upside down from big rubber bands, or race down snow-covered mountains, I can relate with the need to have fun!

Anonymous said...

I believe that leaders need to address their inner needs and that this makes them better leaders. Out teams learn as much from what we say as what we do. If they see as us leaders that neglect ourselves, we need to ask if that is the message we want to send.

Alan Boyce said...

"I believe if we model this inner need to minister to ourselves, we can expect those who follow us to turn inward as well. Servants make the best leaders, to my mind. And serving is the best "workout" for the servant, just as running is the best workout for the runner."

Thomas Voultos said...

"We as husbands, fathers, employees, leaders etc tend to sacrifice our own wants and needs to satisfy the needs of others in order to keep the machine going, to impact knowledge to make sure its done right. Don't understand why we do it somehow we are wired that way or feel like we get some sort self reward helping others. I imagine if we were on a plane with our family and despite the often spoken words of the flight attendent about oxygen masks that we would be more likely to take care of our family first then hopefully get around ourselves. As I get older and my teenagers attempt to suck all the money and life from me my survival instincts are starting to kick in and ask what about me? I once had a life, needs, desires, those never went away just shadowed by others until pushed to a point either emotionally or physically ie heart attack that causes you to rethink YOUR life. And one of the reasons we may have even reached that point of poor physical health is due to all the football, hockey, basketball, lacrosse, baseball games we attend for the benefit of our family instead of actually playing those game ourselves, those old man leagues we should have attended. So as you can probably tell I have reached that point, that point of wanting time for myself so I can play, learn, reenergize and make sure I am around to enjoy my spouse, and watch my children have children so they can finally give back for all the taking they have done. Because that's how its done."

Richard Jones said...

"John, I agree whole heartedly with what you say. It is important that a leader looks after those issues intheir life that will have an effect on their ability to lead. I have come across a lot of people who see themselves as leaders, but only take the time to work with others to assist their needs. The leader does not take the time to make sure that their own situation is in order. This I have found has 2 main issues. The leader is dealing with issues when they are preoccupied with internal problems. This can often mean that they are not providing the leadership they could if their viewpoint wasn't clouded by their own internals. Secondly, it shows through to our teams and that produces a negative impact on the whole dynamic. How I solve this issue is by spending quality time with my family. There are times when we are with our loved ones in body only. I ensure that the start of our weekend is Friday evening we sit around with Cheese, cracker, wine and soft drinks and we discuss our life. Not only as individuals but as a group. What we will do to ensure that our collective happiness is fulfilled. This is where issues can be sorted and dreams explored. When I return to my work team I know my private life is on track so I am able to work on the business life too. I am sorry if I have rambled too much."

Renée Gendron said...

"Hello John, As with many things, I think this is a question of balance. If the leader works themselves to death, they are of no use to the team. If a leader eats poorly, consistently, and faints because of vitamin deficiencies (I know of 3 cases of that...), they are not serving the team. However, if the leader over indulges, then they neglect their team, they neglect their goals/vision, and do lose credibility - lack of sleep leads to poor decision-making, leads to snappiness. Look at the military as one example - when a commander is replaced outside of normal rotation, it is usually because they are burnt out. They are burnt out because they put in 18+ hour days for months on end. They thought by working themselves so hard that they were serving their soldiers, at first that may the case, but as their bodies get worn out, in many cases they hurt their team unintentionally. Regards Renée"

Tom Krapu said...

"Renee's point is well taken. Balance IS what it is all about, and setting priorities. My personal practice occurs almost daily. (I published an article on daily practice: [http://www.krapu4.com/taichi/ArticleDailyPracticeBriefMinimalGraphics.htm|leo://plh/http%3A*3*3www%2Ekrapu4%2Ecom*3taichi*3ArticleDailyPracticeBriefMinimalGraphics%2Ehtm/AfZX?_t=tracking_disc] Sorry for long URL. ) Practicing t'ai chi and swimming daily invigorates me, increases energy and concentration. Since I own my own business, I can drop my kids off at school at 7:30 and be in the office by 9 am. If you can build it into your schedule and incorporate good principles of daily practice it becomes a part of our lifestyle. The benefits are obvious and become clear over time. Anything I can do to support anyone doing this for themselves, let me know. I am all FOR developing this balance. Sincerely, Tom Krapu, PhD, PCC Infinite Potential

Doug Hatch said...

"In your personal life and as a leader, one of the hardest jobs is learning how to say "NO". As a leader, one must be focused toward the goal and how it will be achieved in the most clear and concise fashion. Mission creep can be the downfall of many leaders. In acquiring more features or options the original goal of the team is lost and no real end is achieved. Your left with a bundle of loose strings and more resources are wasted trying to tie all the loose ends up. In your personal life you make many friends and start racking up commitments, weddings, birthdays, socials, the 'club', sports. You start a family and as your kids grow they continue to proliferate the, 'diversions'. Dance, soccer, hockey, skiing, bowling, travel teams, regionals, nationals, if you're successful enough to support them all and your whole household, your wife becomes a regional transportation service. You spend time with each other, when? Are you feeling a bit STRESSED now? Is your family fighting? Is your performance at work slipping? Realize that there isn't enough time on this earth for everything. Great leaders and captains of industry know how to stay focused. They know how to say no to extraneous business. They have a goal in sight and once it is achieved, it is evaluated, and the next goal is obtained faster and with less effort using the knowledge gained from previous successes. All of the skills we learned in "lean" thinking are exercised and committed to. Many times this means there is not time for a family. Work is all consuming and there is not enough time to dedicate to personal relationships. If these leaders are fortunate find that magic with someone and begin a family. They know how to let go of their corporate responsibilities to trusted employees and make time for their families as needed. And when their kids start to mature they know how to instill in them the value of time; time for the self, time for work, time for friends and most importantly time for family. How to say "no" to extra, sports, toys, parties, electronics, etc.. You can sum this up with a twist on the Marines' unofficial motto, "Simplify, Adapt and Overcome," Simplify your life, remove excess 'noise'. Adapt to changing situations, in work and life. Overcome the temptations of the world that steal time and resources, and allow us to lose focus. Learn how to say, "no" (nicely of course) to some of the people that you "serve". Because in the end, the only one you serve is god."

Pratap Nambiar said...

"I agree with you John. Leadership is all about balance. It definitely needs you to devote some time to yourself. Just as there is a need to balance art with science it is necessary that leaders spend as much time on self directed learning which is a critical ability they have to master. It certainly will have a huge positive impact on the quality of time then spent with their followers."

James Pentreath said...

"I agree with Pratap and would add, Balance + Energy = Wellness which is key to our effectiveness, high performance and capacity for change! I'd refer to Drucker who wrote, Your first and foremost job as a leader is to raise your own energy level and then to help raise and orchestrate the energies of those around you. Successful leaders understand that energy management is more important than time management and so a couple years ago I made a choice to add "Wellness" as a core value in my life!"

Prabhu Sankaran said...

"some people say that meditation helps. Some Japanese corporations have power nap rooms at the workplace, we could perhaps think of instructor led meditation sessions at Boeing fitness centers around lunch hour. 30-minutes, once a week for starters? This might give people the much needed 'time to disconnect' from daily grind and recalibrate themselves to be an effective leader."

John Bishop said...

Looks like a general agreement is that leaders need balance to be effective. No one brought up the risk of injury. That surprised me.

John

John Bishop said...

Oh yes - I'm also surprised that nobody asked why ex-Lakers player Michael "the Coop" Cooper was in the middle of our photo.

John

Gerry Mann said...

"Hi John, I must applaud your friend Sam for discovering his need to balance and for taking the actions to do so. It reminds me that in the dynamics of the time we live in, balancing is a foundational activity, one that requires frequent re-balancing. Personally, what worked for me 10 years ago no longer works as well today. Gaining and practicing those rebalancing skills is likely to be a survival characteristic for the generations that follow us. Regards, Gerry."

Paul Hoffman said...

In a concluding course of my doctoral studies was a section on leaders' need to reconstitute and rest. This is not selfish and careful research leads one to the discovery of rest and reconstitution is a historical theme crossing cultures, religions, and global regions. The Jews call it Sabbatical Rest. In the post modern era sabbatical rest is of increasing import. Rest, doing no work, turning of the cell phone and computer, making no calls, taking no calls, ignoring email seems impossible (and many organizations find it unreasonable) in the global 24/7 work cycle. If a leader is always "on", the leader's mind is "on" and gets cluttered.

One text in the study of leader rest commented that organizations place unrealistic expectations on leaders resulting in burnout. Leaders, accepting these unreal expectations, avoid reaching out to subordinates and proteges with whom they can share daily tasks.

Contrary to the title of this blog, the Oxford Dictionary of the English Language defines leadership as a noun, the action of leading. Leading presumes you have followers. Followers are defined as adherents or devotees of a particular person, cause, or activity. No where have I found a definition stating that leaders are always "on."

Sam is a wise man who knows he needs his down time. Too many leaders don't know what Sam knows.

Add to Technorati Favorites