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A small business blog featuring tips to help entrepreneurs succeed in the small business world. Topics include family business, human resources, marketing, money, networking, operations, ownership, startup, taxes and technology.
The Balance of a Leader

From the time I was a little girl, my mother had this look. If I was not behaving in the manner she approved of, all it took from her was “the look” (and occasionally my name spoken in a not so flattering tone) and I’d straighten right up. That look has carried on to me. My husband says I try and use on him sometimes (though he doesn’t like to admit that I’m usually successful) and even our dog, a 95 pound lab/dane mix, will hang his head in shame when I give him “the look.” It must be an acquired skill.

Equally as important as “the look” in getting my point across, is the affection. Though we don’t have any children of our own just yet, I have a great deal of experience with them from working in daycares and children’s ministries at church. And one of the most important things I’ve learned is there must be affection and love in your discipline. With my nephews, for example, when they stay over at our house and get into trouble, we discuss what they did wrong, how to improve in the future, and always end with a hug and “I love you.”

Being a good, strong, dependable leader is all about balance. Being a leader is not a one-sided position. You cannot be rough on your employees and never show them any tenderness. And you can’t be easy on everyone and never show them any discipline. You have to have a balance of both.

And there are many areas in which a balance is needed as a leader, such as the following:

• Balance the ability to confront difficult situations and deal with conflict with an ability to consider everyone’s perspective and the possibility that you may be wrong about something as often as you’re right.

• Balanced leaders set goals and accomplish them, without compromising their relationships with their staff to get it done.

• Balance professionalism with a personal relationship with your employees and clientele.

• Balanced leaders can accept constructive criticism from others without getting defensive (or “jumping” as a friend once called it, because we often jump to defend ourselves and have hurt feelings and wounded pride when someone else sees a need for improvement).

• A balanced leader is respected in his authority and yet approachable when someone has a question about the process behind his decision or clarification.

Far too many leaders take advantage of their place of power. They will tell an employee they are doing something wrong, but won’t take the time to consider why or help to correct the problem. They might press to accomplish a task, regardless of how it effects their employees. They may be respected out of fear and never allow for anyone to question their judgment for any reason. There are not signs of a good leader. There is no balance, and, therefore, no strength, in this kind of leadership.

Strive as a leader to be balanced in everything you do. Put yourself in the shoes of your employees or whoever is under your leadership authority. Treat them as you would want to be treated in the same position. After all, chances are you were once where they are, and you may know how it feels to be treated like a nobody. Make the effort to show people what a successful leader should truly be.

• Leadership Wired e-newsletter, August 2007: Velvet-Covered Bricks

Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Leaders Can’t Do It Alone
Showing Compassion
Business Structures Help Fight War on Terror
Leading by Example in a World of Copy Cats
What Employees Want from You

By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, June 3rd, 2018 @ 12:06 AM CDT

Human Resources, Ownership |