I was boarding a 20-seat commuter plane with six other passengers. We took our assigned seats, most of which were toward the front of the plane. Just before the captain started up the engines, he came into the cabin and asked a few of us to take seats further to the rear. “We need to balance out the plane,” he explained. Given the explanation, I was happy to move to an aft seat. In the process, I found it interesting how immune we frequent flyers on commercial jets have become to flight dynamics. I know I never give it a thought.
But on that tiny plane, I was reminded how performance and safety depend on the proper balance. That captain knew that had he not balanced the weight, he would have had to over-compensate on the controls to keep the plane flying straight and true – especially during takeoff and landing. As captain of your business, how often do you find yourself trying to overcompensate when things are out of balance? You know exactly what I’m talking about.
It’s when you’re trying to fire up your team while their sense of urgency is stuck in a funky comfort zone. It’s when you take your eyes off the financial controls and expenses get out of hand. It’s when team morale and motivation turn into a toxic stew that contaminates a once-vibrant culture. Simply put, when the symptoms indicating that a business is even slightly out of balance begin to appear, it’s imperative for the leader to engage and restore balance.
But before you can do that, you must look at your own life. Do you have a sense of balance in your life? Are you calm? Happy? Have a clear sense of priorities? You need to have your personal house in order. If not, your staff will sense a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude that will further degrade your business culture.
Everyone has a different interpretation of what a great business culture is. A balanced business has a culture that fuels a sense of energy and momentum. The different departments synchronize, with everyone coming together for a common purpose.
So what does balance look like in business? That’s an interesting question, as balance can’t be seen. However, you can experience it and measure it. Consider these points:
- It’s capable, confident and aggressive: Employees of a balanced business enjoy pushing the envelope. They do so because when there’s a state of balance, the natural tendency is to compete and drive forward. An unbalanced business gets bogged down in its own internal issues.
- The pace is fast and steady: If you exercise regularly and take care of your body, you know what balance feels like: you feel energized and have the endurance to go the distance toward whatever goal you’ve set for yourself. A business that can consistently function at a fast and steady pace is balanced. An unbalanced business always seems to be running out of gas and having engine problems.
- Execution at its best: Balance is like a football team that makes it to the Super Bowl. Every player and every coach is there to work together and win. A balanced business is disciplined yet flexible enough to be self-correcting when things go awry. A balanced business is impressive to observe and do business with, and consistently outpaces the competition.
- The results are measurable: When a business is in balance, it’s evident in the numbers … from revenues, profits and a healthy Balance Sheet to high productivity rates, customer and employee retention.
If you want your business to fly high and fast, it’s your job to get it, and keep it, in balance. Flying any other way is dangerous. No compromise.
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