In his highly authentic, sincere and personal new book, Balancing Act, author Dr. Andrew Temte, CFA, shares candid insights and timely lessons about the balance needed to succeed as a leader.
“I wrote this book in the hope that others will learn from my triumphs and failures. Those who can recover more rapidly from periods of imbalance will have an advantage over those cannot,” says Temte.
He firmly believes that leaders who strive toward balance can more readily identify and curtail organizational entropy, facilitate a culture of trust, and foster diverse organizations and cultures that inspire everyone to bring their “whole sell” to work.
“Success without balance is often more disastrous than failure with balance,” explains Temte. “When the unbalanced achieve victory, it often serves to further destructive habits. When the balanced suffer defeat, resilience and perseverance grow.”
Tempte further explains that leaders today often struggle for balance between:
- Strength and vulnerability
- Confidence and selflessness
- Passion and measure
- Single-mindedness and inclusivity
- Determination and curiosity
- Leadership and followership
As you read Temte’s personal journey in finding his balance, you’ll discover how to apply his lessons learned to find your proper balance to lead effectively, Temte also shows you how to teach, coach, mentor and inspire in your leadership role.
Some of the key takeaways for me from the book are:
Tempe’s four key competencies he believes everyone needs in order to work effectively across departments, understand how their individual contributions fit into the bigger picture, and ultimately thrive in a future of increasingly advanced technology are:
- Financial acumen
- Data literacy
- Commercial acumen
- Human skills
- When in doubt, pick up the phone.
- Businesses are made up of people, and the success of businesses relies on how those people interact, communicate, and collaborate with each other.
- Moving forward, one of the most difficult tasks of a leader will be to embrace the personalities of individual team members and to provide the space necessary for free expression and creativity.
- Teach, coach, mentor, and inspire.
- Set and execute strategy (level appropriate).
- Create and communicate clarity.
- Establish and monitor relevant key performance indicators.
- Fight entropy.
- Remove obstacles and help teams focus.
- Act as a brand ambassador.
Finally, Temte devotes an insightful section in his book on organizational trust and returning to the office after COVID-19, by offering advice for how to do so strategically, compassionately and by changing how we think about a new norm.
Today, Temte answered the following questions for me:
Question: Your book is very personal and candid. Why did you choose this writing approach for Balancing Act?
Temte: A main theme of the book is to stress the importance of constructive vulnerability (as opposed to dramatic vulnerability) as a leadership trait. Leadership pundits are talking a lot about vulnerability, but seldom reflect on what that means in practice. I felt it was important for readers to see directly that leaders are not exempt from life's challenges and that learning from one's missteps is how we discover and build that next best version of ourselves. We need to lead by example for our teams to show them that it's ok to fail and fall down, because we've done it ourselves. Leadership bookshelves are stacked with books that provide formulas for success where the author is talking at the reader, claiming that by following a particular rubric, success will follow. I believe life is much more nuanced and that success can only come by looking hard at the whole self - not just through the evaluation of the work self.
you believe some leaders will be viewed more negatively by their employees
post-pandemic because of how the leader led during the pandemic, and if so,
Temte: Absolutely. The pandemic has been a phenomenal social experiment in how to maintain and grow organizational trust, or on how to destroy it. Those leaders who have used the pandemic to build their emotional intelligence muscles by recognizing the unique stressors each team member is dealing with will fare much better relative to those who treat people like coin-operated cogs in a gigantic corporate wheel. Leaders who find new ways to communicate organizational goals and invest in building their colleagues through learning will have established an environment where trust can flourish. Organizations that are not built on a solid foundation of trust will struggle to compete against those that have consciously invested in fostering trust within and across teams.
Question: During the pandemic some leaders struggled to balance sharing bad news with employees while also not wanting to discourage employees. What is your best advice for sharing bad news in the workplace?
Temte: In my experience, leaders who struggle to share bad news are hiding or obfuscating a more deep-seated challenge with their own managerial competence. The world of today is filled with challenging news and an ever-shifting business and political landscape. My advice is to be transparent and up front with challenging news because holding it back will simply serve to prime the pump of watercooler conversations and unproductive speculation. Transparency comes with an obligation to put the right tools in place to help team members build their resilience and effectively navigate through change. Simply dumping bad news on teams without appropriate support mechanisms in place is as bad, or possibly worse, than feigning that the business is covered in rainbows and puppy dogs.
Question: If a leader's bandwidth allows excelling in only one of these three -- teacher, coach, mentor -- which one do you recommend they choose to emphasize?
Temte: I would say that coaching is the most important. True mentorship relationships are rare and can seldom be forced. Teaching should be used judiciously to ensure it's done in the right moments, supports the goals of the business, and is grounded in fact. Coaching, if done well, helps lead team members to a decision or conclusion and is deployed much more frequently. Coaching is fundamental to the skill set of all leaders and is foundational to the manager/employee relationship. Managers who find themselves routinely "telling and yelling" are really holding their people back from growth opportunities.
Thank you to the book's publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.