On a summer day in 1974, a 24-year-old Frenchman stepped onto the world stage with one of the most astonishing performances in modern history, walking back and forth on a wire illegally rigged across the void between New York’s World Trade Centre Towers, three quarters of a mile above spellbound onlookers. (Ref. Man on Wire)
A nice analogy for leadership is that of a high wire walker or ‘funambulist’. The rope or wire can represent strategy: the direction of movement to a clear objective on the other side.
To successfully execute the strategy (wire), the walker must achieve balance in the sideways horizontal and the vertical directions. Not balancing along the horizontal will lead to a fall; not remaining strongly upright, (an analogy for values and determination), will create bounce or instability in the wire or strategy, likely leading to a fall.
Finally, in this analogy, the wire walker has to move and continue to move no matter which is the direction and strength of the wind.
Imagine you are the funambulist, whether you are an individual leader, team leader or an organisational leader.
Most leaders will recognise that there is a gap between what they want to achieve and what they anticipate their organisation can deliver. This gap in aspiration becomes larger during times of uncertainty and change.
Business environments are dynamic whereas most organisations are less so and long term success tends not to be resilient to change. By bridging the aspiration gap organisations that have a foundation of competency can become more resilient and then agile as they build frameworks to recognise and adapt to change.
In our current uncertain environment, it is more important than ever for a leader to maintain a balance across issues in order to successfully deliver strategy and meet objectives. This is a balance of the questions ‘Are we doing things right for both the now and the tomorrow?’ and ‘Are we doing the right things right’?
In addition to this balance a leader needs to be strategically positioning the organisation by being re-active to short-term demands whilst also ensuring a pro-active around long term positioning. When leaders don’t achieve this balance they can be drawn into becoming ‘just fire fighters’ of smaller or less relevant reactive issues.
The challenge is to bridge the gap between aspiration and reality by building competency, resilience and agility.
How do you address ‘THE QUESTION OF BALANCE’?
Are we doing the right things?
Are we doing things right?