In 1899, sociologist Thorsten Veblen published The Theory of the Leisure Class: An economic study of institutions. His research marked a growing phenomenon of people separating their personal life from their work life. Veben was the one who coined the often used term, “conspicuous consumption.” His research marked a growing tension between personal life and work life. This tension is at the heart of the quest for balance.
The balance between life and work, I’ve come to conclude, is an impossible standard. It is a measure of time and activity level rather than a measure of the value of either our life or work.
Ask yourself the following questions.
1. How do you know when there is balance between your life and work? Is it a 50/50 split?
2. If you were to achieve balance, what would be different? Is it simply that you would have more time to pursue your leisure time interests?
3. Presently, which side, life or work, is more out of balance? What is it specifically that tells me this?
We live in a world that is in transition.
One of the most significant transitions that we are experiencing is in the nature of leadership.
It used to be that leadership was reserved for the person who was the head of an organization. We knew who the leader was because he or she had a title that defined their role as the leader of the organization.
Since there are only a few leaders, it means everyone else is a follower.
The Relationship between Leaders and Followers is Changing
The relation between leading and following is in transition.
It once was true that great leaders had great followers. However, over time, as the world has changed, we are far more aware of what our leaders are really like. The issue for the follower is ‘Do I trust the leader?’. For leaders, the question is ‘Do I respect the follower?’
Failure is a way of life for many people. They try hard to succeed. But for some reason they never do.
Is their problem one of execution, of planning, of expectation, of personality or timing? Or is it a combination of all of them?
I’ve thought a lot about this over the years. In addition to the above, other factors play into what constitutes success.
There is the question of focus, of application of talent to real needs, of competence in performance, of commitment for preparation and for follow-through. Then there is the question of self-confidence.
See, all those conditions factor into success and failure. Yet, all those could be at the top-of-their-game, and still, success eludes us. The question is whether our conception of success is sufficient for the world we live in. I am increasingly convinced that we must look more deeply into these factors in order to define impact as the measure of success.
Every organization has a culture. It may be a culture of competitiveness or fear. Cultures that pit people against one another are not well-positioned to address the challenges of living in the midst of transition. Most of these organizations are starved for leadership. For leadership is not simply what the senior executives may do. Rather, leadership is how people function within the context of their work. This means that the culture of the company is not a corporate initiative passed down to employees. It is rather how the company functions as a network of relationships.
Since the publication of my book, I have come to speak of these relationships as “a persistent, residual culture of values.” The values persist because they reside in the relationships of the people of the organization. As I commented to a woman who works in a company that is struggling in the midst of its own transition, “A company is not defined by its tragedies, but by the persistent, residual culture of the network of relationships that exists within the company.” To have this kind of culture requires creating a culture for leadership.
This is the fourth of four posts of excerpts from my book, Circle of Impact: Taking Personal Initiative To Ignite Change. These posts are about the transition that I see taking place within organizations in particular, and global society in general. If you or your business is in transition, you may find that many of the ideas and tactics that you used to manage change are no longer effective. You need not only a different perspective but new tools for living in the midst of a global transition of unprecedented proportions.