A Basic Equation of Leadership

In his inner game work, Tim Gallwey distills coaching to the equation p = P – i. In longhand: performance  = Potential – interference. In working as a leadership sculptor I’ve come to see the i as standing for imbalance. A lack of life balance — as Klaus Linneweh pointed out several years ago — damages leadership effectiveness in many ways: health and relationships deteriorate, productivity falls away, one loses the detachment needed when solving difficult problems.

One practical way to develop leadership talent is to help people develop a vision for life balance. This needs to be dynamic, since our needs can change quickly. Several months ago I was on my way home by train from a strategy workshop for a customer. I was looking out the window and beginning to savor the upcoming week visiting the IRB in Barcelona. Work was very much front and center. Suddenly my mobile phone rang; it was my father, “your mother isn’t well!”. That from someone who seldom phones (for the record: I see it as my happy filial duty to call them, not vice versa). In an instant, the importance of work had faded and I began to think about who could cover for me in Barcelona, should I need to travel home. (It turned out to be nothing more than a scare, thank God!)

Many instruments help with identifying this balance, one of which, Petzold’s 5 Pillars, I will return to another day. (I had hoped just toi be able to give a link to the information, but I didn’t find a good link in English.) The next step is to identify sources of imbalance (usually quite easy once the picture of balance is there) and then develop strategies and action plans to move towards this balance.

Another approach is to look at your current situation through the perspective of others: where would the following people say that your life is imbalanced or “out of whack”: partner or spouse, boss, business partner, direct report, colleague, friend. It’s a good exercise to ask yourself what they would say; if you don’t get an answer, then ask them directly.

So, where is your life out of whack today?

3 Responses to A Basic Equation of Leadership

  1. Hi Themabume,

    thanks for pointing this out. The theme’s RSS button is too far down the screen, so I’ve added another one at the top.

    Best regards


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