Leadership & Management

On Leadership and Juggling

Leaders only noticing output would be like a juggler staring at their hands - everything would, literally, fall apart.

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Leaders are jugglers. They have to balance employee wants and needs, overarching goals of their organization, money, and on top of all that, their own daily tasks.

With so much happening at once, some leaders turn to what’s easiest: a focus on output and performance. The thinking is that if everything is happening on schedule or sales goals are being met or the books balance, then quantitatively, all is well.

Jugglers focus at the point where all the items they are juggling peak. They don’t look at their hands, but they do make sure that each time they toss an item it hits a desired point. If they notice that things are off, they adjust tosses, but keep their eyes focused on that peak at all times.

If leaders are jugglers, some leaders might compare this peak to their employees’ performance. Only when the performance dips do they make a change. This thinking misses the point.

The peak leaders must monitor is not performance; it is employee satisfaction, well-being, and motivation. When a leader pays close attention to employee satisfaction and supports the people on their team, they can trust that each employees’ productivity will improve; Leaders only noticing output would be like a juggler staring at their hands - everything would, literally, fall apart.

In other words, high performance is a natural byproduct of well-motivated employees.

By focusing on the arc of their toss, jugglers have been able to keep everything in balance for hours. Similarly, only leaders who put their people first yield long-term success.

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