By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to factor more balance in your daily decision making. Reading time: 3:07.
You’re pulled and tugged in every direction by customers, suppliers, government regulators, stockholders et al. Conflicting priorities are part and parcel of your day as a leader. In fact, 64% of 1,800 executives in a Booz & Company survey cited “too many conflicting priorities” as their biggest frustration factor.
What should a leader do? Go for a bike ride! (Read on. Hop on. )
And add balance to your leadership life.
Now think of your company or organization as if it were a wheel on a bicycle. And think of each of the 28 spokes around the rim of your wheel as if they each represented a different constituent, a different stakeholder, a different public. Each depending on the organization. Each making demands the organization. Each making demands on you. Their demands are like so many bumps in the road that shake your world and bend your rims as you bump along the rugged road of conflicting priorities. Pull too much on the spoke for investors and their demands for increased dividends and you loosen the spoke for employees and their demands for less costly health care. And your rim –like any organization pulled and tugged in contradictory directions—surrenders its balance. And you are out of control.
Balancing Your Stakeholders on a Truing Wheel
That’s why the most effective leaders I know are always seeking to balance their rims–to regain that coveted control, to stabilized its momentum and unleash its strength equally around all 360-degrees to do a Wheelie. Yet too often leaders are pulled, tugged and yanked in a contradictory directions until the rim wobbles haphazardly -wheelies a forgotten thrill. They have lost their true selves.
Maintaining a true course is the responsibility of a leader. No wonder in my quest to understand the impact of leadership I find it particularly instructive that bicycle shops use a machine called a”TRUING” wheel to balance the rim, to find its true form and function. And like a leader seeking balance in his or her organization, a bicycle shop owner listens intently and makes adjustment. The bicycle shop owner listens for the “ping” sound of a too-tight spoke or the “thud” sound of a too-loose spoke. Then a bicycle shop owner make adjustments with a spoke wrench to bring that bicycle back into balance, back into efficient operation, back into effective function.
Symmetry Spoke-n Here
Leaders always carry their own”spoke wrenches” of sorts in their pockets. They seek balance 24/7. They treat all spokes on their organization’s wheel –all groups dependent on the organization -with a sense of equanimity. They serve the needs of one group without compromising on the need of other groups. They use their “spoke wrenches” to maintain their ideal wheel balance with thoughtful, careful, even intimate care. Yes, intimate care.
That sense of intimate care is clearly evident when you consider the name of the part of a spoke that is threaded into the rim. It’s called a “nipple.” How appropriate sense its is through that nipple that the rim’s strength and stability is nourished to cope with bumpy roads of life and business. Nourishing all 28 nipples with proper balance required considerable vigilance and discipline as leaders seek to preserve and protect all 28 of those nipples evenly — across the board. They favor no single spoke at the expense of all. If one is tightened then another reciprocating spoke must be loosened. Balance is in the balance.
So the next time you are confronted with conflicting priorities; the next time you feel you are losing your balance; the next time you feel like your organization is wobbling out of your control, stop. Take a breath. Make the adjustment on own “truing” wheel. Then hop on your proverbial bicycle with confidence and conviction to balance conflicts. And display your Sign of Truth : Symmetry Spoke-n Here.”
Balance Your Relationships to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
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