The life of a leader is a constant dance of recalibration. What worked yesterday like does not work tomorrow. When we built a plan for next year, we didn’t know all the factors which would influence the outcomes. And as much as we want to rely on our teams and those around us, people choose to leave for other pursuits.
In leadership, the old adage is true: the only constant is change. Comfortable with your position today? It will change soon. Getting used to the rhythm you are in? Change is coming. Relying on the same people to do the same job? Get ready for change to come. You can’t run from it, you can’t pretend it doesn’t exist, and you can’t keep it from happening. Change is happening and your responsibility is to proactively position yourself and your team to be as effective as possible in the midst of it.
We all know change is a constant reality and most leaders have lived through change, but how do you get clarity on how you personally need to grow? What’s a tool you can use to help assess your current reality, where you need to make adjustments, and the steps you can take to get there?
Leaders who get to a position of senior or executive leadership can get caught in a place where they believe that the habits and methods that got them there are what will bring them success in the future. It’s confirmation bias. As a younger leader you executed at a certain level, you’ve reached this new peak in your career, so you’ll keep doing what you’ve been doing. Except that what got you here won’t be what will make you successful. Your past success was the work of your past self, someone in a more junior position, someone who had different things to prove. Your current reality requires a deep commitment to your highest level of personal effectiveness for the greatest cumulative impact across your organization.
Take a moment to think of a typical day in your leadership role. Now think of a typical week. Now a month, a quarter, and a year. When you audit your time and where you are investing your energy, an effective leader will be investing approximately 70% of their time and energy into activities which rely on their natural strengths, work which is energizing for you, and effort which generates lots of results. About 30% of your time is going to spent on the parts of your role which are more learned behaviour, might be a bit more draining, and create less obvious results. This part of your work isn’t less important, you just lean in to a different set of skills when you are completing these tasks.
When we get out of balance, we feel it and those around us feel it. At a 70/30 balance there is a healthy amount of high level execution and sustained commitment to the ongoing work of the organization. At 50/50 or 90/10 the balance is out of whack and the implications are going to be felt inside you, inside your team, and across your organization.
So let’s explore this together for you. If it’s helpful, grab your calendar or journal and look at the last month. Compare the activities where you were really leaning into the work where you thrive, where you bring the most impact, and where you really find joy to the activities where you need to really focus on being present, and it feels more like work. What goes into each of these categories is going to be different for each person, and of course the more control you have over your own calendar, the more opportunity you will have to make change in your current reality.
Some questions for you to think about now that you have some perspective related to this 70/30 balance:
- What is your current balance? Are you at 70/30 or leaning more heavily in one direction or the other?
- What areas of your work allow you to invest your most effective energy?
- What areas of your work are the most challenging for you?
- Where do you need to make changes to get closer to a 70/30 balance?
- If you can’t make those changes now, what steps will you put in place to bring awareness to your team that you are out of balance?