Balance is very difficult for leaders. When things go wrong, many of us find it hard to stay calm, cool, and collected.
Leaders are expected to meet objectives, yet also be approachable. To maintain control, but welcome differing opinions. To motivate staff, yet manage ongoing risks.
A few years ago, I was hired as director at a healthcare facility in Minnesota. It was a perfect fit for my experience and training. The leadership team was encouraging, as were the members of my department. And I really loved being in a long-term care environment.
But despite all the support, I found myself increasingly stressed and anxious. The problem wasn’t just the high-pressure environment; instead, it was a battle happening in my mind. As an introvert, I do my best work in periods of silence and reflection. My information-gathering process is intuitive, because I rely on connections between things that are not obvious to others. Rather than following a specific pathway, I look for hidden clues and investigate the root causes of problems. My process may be unconventional, but it gets results.
Unfortunately, executive roles typically do not welcome an intuitive thinking process. And this clash — between my natural temperament, and a system that rewards fast and decisive action — resulted in a very high-stress environment.
Why was it so difficult for intuitive leaders to fit the mold of traditional corporate thinking?
Is it possible to find a balanced leadership style?