3 Ways Leaders Can Achieve Much More than Mere ‘Balance’

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We all have busy seasons.

I’m in one of mine right now.

It’s a season of the year with extensive travel, with tight deadlines, and with important events happening in my family, my church and in my relational world.

In such seasons the first thing many leaders aspire towards is “balance”. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about navigating these seasons, it’s this:

“Balance” doesn’t exist.

At least, not in the world of leadership.

There are two basic problems with the quest for balance.

First of all, no one can really define it. Does it mean you spend equal amounts of time at work, at home, at leisure, at study, and so on?

That’s ludicrous.

Secondly, the pursuit of work-life balance assumes you can, and should, segment your life. It suggests your life has a segment called “Work”, another called “Family”, another called “Spiritual” another called “Recreational”, and so on.

Life just doesn’t work like that.

At least, not for effective leaders.


Effective leaders set their sights much higher than mere balance. They strive instead for alignment in every area of their life.

It’s the idea that the various areas of your life flow together, weaving in and out of your world, resulting in fulfillment in every area of your life.

But to achieve this, leaders must establish 3 key foundations.

1.  A crystal-clear sense of personal purpose

Your life must have a clearly defined goal that brings every area of your life into alignment. In my own life, I seek to honor God in all that I do. That’s the plumb line that runs through my home, my work, my exercise, even my hobbies.

2.  An unshakable set of personal values

You can’t have one set of values in your marriage and family, and another set you use for leading your organization.

3.  An ironclad structure of personal priorities

My wife comes first. My children are second. My church is third. My work is fourth. And so on.

Over-arching everything, in my own life, is God. He is in all, and through all.

Having a clearly defined set of personal values helps you to know where, at any given time, you should be devoting your energies.

None of this is to suggest you’ll never feel the pull to spend less time at the office, nor does it mean that every life decision will automatically be easy.

But it does mean that you can actually achieve a deep sense of fulfillment in every area of your life.

And for leaders, that’s a lot better than mere balance.

the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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