There is one thing every leader needs to figure out – and they need to do so right now. Immediately.
I have been leading for over 35 years in some capacity. Having led in multiple contexts – in business, government, nonprofit and the church – I can say I’ve never seen a time quite like the world of leadership today. It’s not just the pandemic or the changing culture. Everything has changed about the landscape of leadership.
Well, not everything. Actually much has stayed the same. People ultimately want to the same things out of life. They want to find happiness, fulfillment, and a sense of accomplishment and value in life. A great part of leadership is helping people discover those realities – even when the odds seem stacked against them.
But most the parameters in which we lead have changed. The challenges we face in leading people today – that’s all changed.
We simply can’t expect to do the same things we’ve always done and get the same results. New skills of leadership are needed. More patience (often with people) is required. The ways we communicate with people we are trying to lead – that’s all changed. Pressures on leaders to address every social issue are greater than ever. The divisiveness of people and the quick changes in the “rules” are more real than previous times in my leadership.
Frankly, I’m having to learn (or re-learn) good leadership principles every single day.
So, that leads me to the one thing every leader needs – right now.
It’s the one I’m trying to figure out myself as I attempt to lead today.
Every leader today needs RHYTHM.
While we tend to think of rhythm mostly in terms of music or the arts, one definition of rhythm that caught my attention is : movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements. (Merriam-Webster)
In the midst of what may seem chaotic around us, when it seems impossible some days to lead well in all areas of life, all leaders need to find a rhythm for their life.
Rhythm in professional life. I chose the word rhythm rather than balance, because I seldom feel truly balanced in my work. Some days it takes all I’ve got to get done what I need to do. And other days I have margin in my time and could work or go home early. I’m trying to find the right rhythm that allows me to complete certain realistic goals and objectives, but doesn’t overly consume me or place undue burdens on my family or me.
Honestly, this is a challenge for me. I’ve been working close to full-time since I was 12-years-old. All I know to do some days is work. But I’m learning (it took me a long time) that there is more to life than work. I still want to be as productive – even more so in these years as an empty-nester – so, I’m trying to develop a healthy rhythm.
Rhythm in relational/social life. Social media hasn’t made this easier. Just last night I saw a Facebook post from a dozen or so high school friends (all girls) who recently got together for a social. I haven’t seen some of them in close to 40 years, but instantly I was a teenager again. I wanted to “stalk” each of them. Where are they today? What are they doing? It was fun. But while I was interested in their life I was visiting my son and his family that live across country from us. Now, which of these should have had my greater attention? (Duh!)
I have a friend who says, “Be fully present wherever you are at the time.” I’m not the best at remembering that, but it’s a great discipline and could be part of creating a healthy rhythm. You can’t be everywhere with everyone. But you can’t be fully with the people with you right now.
Rhythm in our spiritual, emotional and physical life. Frankly, the past year with a pandemic, new pressures in leadership, moving cross country, and changes in my work flow, it’s been more difficult to exercise, eat well, and stay physically fit. I’m fairly disciplined in my daily routine quiet times, but even those have suffered some.
One struggle for me is that for the first time in years, I don’t have a gym in the building where I work. I used to slip away during the day for a needed workout. I’m having to reestablish new rhythms to keep myself healthy in all areas of my life. And it is a work in progress.
In fact, in this new season of leadership, all of these are continuous works in progress.
But every leader I know needs rhythm right now more than ever.
Where in your life do you need a new rhythm in order to be successful in that area?