Coaching Article – The Not-So-Secret Way to Better Leadership Balance

While the concept of being balanced in leadership isn’t new, the way that it’s interpreted can be vastly different. Many leaders think that leadership balance is the ability to stay calm in a crisis. Others believe that it’s the ability to strategically see all the moving pieces in each scenario and come up with a plan of action. Still others believe that it’s the ability to inspire your team and organization.

Those skills are all valid, but Leading with Honor’s philosophy of leadership balance encompasses all of them into a more holistic model that any leader can use and apply daily. It’s comprised of two essential parts shown in the Natural Talents section below—Results and Relationships (or as the military calls it, Mission and People).

(we talked about Level 1 of this model Integrity/Trust in last month’s coaching blog.)


Notice that we intentionally place this skill set as more foundational than competence, because it’s typically the biggest day-to-day challenge that leaders face.

Let’s explore this so you can grasp the challenge and the solution.


Which Way Do You Tilt?

From over 30 years of assessing and training leaders, we know that 40% of the population is naturally talented for Results and 40% have natural talents for Relationships. To be an effective leader, most people will need to learn to adapt to talents (behaviors) that are not natural and feel a bit uncomfortable. 20% have some of both, but under pressure they will typically focus mainly on Results, so they will need to adapt, too.


We typically use the natural talents tilt graphic shown here to visually show the need to adapt and gain a better balance. Because we are naturally wired for one or the other, we never will get completely balanced. However, when we adapt our behaviors to use some of the talents from the other side of the scale, it’s amazing how a small change has a big impact.

My new coaching clip expands on this idea. Please watch, and then continue reading the blog below –


Let’s look at the strengths of each side and I think you will see how crucial it is to learn to adapt to some of the behaviors on the other.


Results-Oriented (Mission)

Leaders with this tilt rely heavily on logic and tend to naturally exhibit these strengths –


  • Big Picture, Visionary, Strategic.
  • Straightforward, Give Clear Expectations.
  • Strong Focus on Tasks, and Good Problem-solver.
  • Decisive, Give Direction, Firm.
  • High Standards & Clear Goals for Self/Others.
  • Hold People Accountable.


But, if you have these talents and are naturally good at setting standards and holding people accountable, you are likely to struggle with Relationship-oriented behaviors like listening, encouraging, believing in, and showing empathy. However, both are essential attributes of leadership, so you must learn to adapt.


Relationship-Oriented (People)

As you would expect, leaders with this tilt naturally exhibit opposite strengths – ones that are often seen as “soft skills” –


  • Good Listener
  • Care, Connect to show Concern for Others
  • Trust People to Do the Job
  • Supportive, Lend a Helping Hand
  • Take Time to Develop People
  • Give Encouragement & Positive Feedback


People with these traits are usually very influential because every person wants to feel valued and important, but usually Relationship people are not well equipped to stay focused on tasks needed to achieve results and accomplish the mission. They tend to avoid correction and confrontation when people are not performing to keep their commitments and meet their responsibilities. So, they must learn to adapt and coach themselves to use some of the Results-oriented talents mentioned above.

But as you will discover from the survey results shown further below, these strengths are also essential to be seen as a great leader.


The Survey Says…

A survey by James Zenger of 60,000 employees conducted to identify whether they thought their boss was a great leader or not revealed that if a leader was seen as strong only on results then they were only 14% likely to be seen as a great leader. If they were strong on social skills (relationships) then they were only 12% likely to be seen as a great leader.


“The likelihood of being seen as a great leader skyrockets to 72% when you’re strong in both getting results and caring for your people.” [Tweet This]


But to get both, almost every person must learn to adapt and coach themselves on some of the strengths of the other side. I’ve worked with CEOs and generals who were great leaders who made it clear that along the way, they had learned to adapt. Leaders who don’t want to adapt often justify their out-of-balance behavior by saying, “That’s just the way I’m wired and I’m not going to change.” They are really missing out and their people will never see them as a “great leader.”


My Free Offer to You

Using these explanations and the Leadership Balance graphic, most people can see which way they tilt. But to help you take it a step further, we’re offering a free one-page exercise that will help you process this and then decide on how you can coach yourself to be a great leader. Download your copy, and coach yourself to a higher level as a leader.

LE [Tweet this Article]

Editor’s note: we’re excited to announce a new series of coaching blogs for 2024 that focus on the leadership models that we have developed over the past 25 years. We hope that they’re helpful in your leadership.

Jan 2024 Coaching Blog – “What’s the Foundation for All Leadership Decisions?”


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