Leadership Balance: It’s About Spinning Plates!

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”  Albert Einstein

Leadership is about spinning plates, both in the workplace and outside of it. as a leader, our daily business goal is to create compelling vision and allow our future leaders to devise stretch-goals that drive business growth. We motivate, inspire, develop and encourage business and personal growth in our teams and reap reward from doing so. And just like being successful in riding a bike, we have to keep moving to keep our balance for ourselves and our teams. If we don’t, our leadership can stumble, fall, or run into a tree. Ouch!

And many leaders do suffer from not keeping balance in their lives. You can see symptoms such as high stress, poor health, limited time for family activities, and precious little time for self.

Where did we catch this disease? Did we catch it or was it self-inflicted?

A Better Way for Balance

Leaders are individuals. Consequently, they all are different, unique, and actually quite special. And what makes you special as a leader will be the very thing that defines what makes you special, unique, fulfilled and balanced in your life. The key to success in creating a path for our personal growth and then for those we lead is to first know and understand what makes us who we are. Armed with that information, we can then begin to weigh and categorize the things in our lives that we need to balance. Without doing this, our spinning plates don’t have a chance to stay spinning on their poles. And we need to take the needed time to understand what we are dealing with.

Ask yourself this: “Do you take enough time to weigh and categorize the things for which you are responsible in your personal and professional life?

For that matter, do you know ANYONE that really invests enough time into their own professional and personal development to deliver the perfect set of spinning plates?

If I asked for a show of hands on how many invest as much time into planning life and professional development as they do in planning and goal setting in the workplace, what do you think the results would be? (I’m guessing the goal-setting wins…)


I have worked with many senior leaders in large corporate organisations who are fantastic at goal setting and planning but whose personal lives are a disaster!

How many of us planned to make our first million or become a senior executive by the age of 30? How many are now surrounded by dysfunctional relationships, divorce and estranged children?

Who was artistic when they were young and now ‘can’t fit it in’ because they have a ‘proper job’?

What if I said that investing some time now in seeking true self-awareness, getting to know who you are, where you are and where you really want or need to be could give you life-changing results, would you be interested?

Even if you think you plan, think you have goals and think you are happy, I would challenge you to look at every area of your life and ask – what does good look like?

Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.~Confucius

When you want balance in life then you should consider every area:

  • Health – Is my health good enough? Do I sleep/rest enough? Do I eat well and exercise? Do I have minor complaints that I am ignoring? What could be better?
  • Wealth – Where are you now? Where do you want to be?
  • Career – What do you truly want, what would make you leap out of bed every day to get to work?
  • Professional – (Intellectual Development)– What are you studying? How are you growing personally? Who is your mentor?
  • Family – What activities do you do together and how often? Do you actively participate and involve everyone in planning?
  • Creativity – What do you do to engage your right brain? Writing, painting, crafts, DIY, design, fill in the blank…?
  • Social – What does your social calendar look like? How often do you socialise with people you really like and engage in like-minded discussions or activities?

Once you have it on paper, you will need to make sure that your goals are achievable and stand up in terms of tangible actions and measures.

  • Area – The area of your life that you will address.
  • Goal – What good looks like to you.
  • Action – What positive steps you will take to achieve the goal.
  • ARC – Who is accountable, responsible and in the communication chain.
  • Measure – How will you know you are there or on the way.
  • Timescale – How long – stretch yourself – review and change if you need to.
  • Follow up – How often will you review and change/adapt your plans.

Most importantly, stretch yourself. Walk tall, don’t fear change – embrace it, and when the unexpected happens change your plans,  something in the unexpected could turn out better than what you had planned.

In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia. Unknown author


Plates From My Cupboard

In 2009, despite some major health and personal obstacles, I managed to do more than ever before, amazing all around me. I did it by setting the most detailed and stretching life action plan I have ever attempted.

In 2010 I am doing more of the same. And so can you! Never underestimate your power and the sense of achievement when you manage to land things that you never imagined that you could.

You can steer your life and open the floodgates to success by learning to spin all the plates equally at the same time.

I believe that you can do it, you should too!

How do you plan work life balance? What motivates you to spin all of the plates in your life? What tips can you share to help those who don’t plan? What difference has creating a ‘life plan’ made to the quality of your life? How has planning you life made you a better leader? How do you share your learning with your direct reports to help them to grow?

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Mandy Russell is Managing Director of Mpower International Limited
She helps with Coaching, Leadership and Teambuilding Workshops and Training
EmailLinkedInFacebookTwitterWebBlog │ Skype: mandy-russell │ 07831 1250288

Image Sources: independentaudit.com, bc.edu

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