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Leadership is about balance


Published: May 06, 2013

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The death of Margaret Thatcher has ignited a heated debate regarding the success of her leadership style when she was the UK Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990.  Her supporters claim she was strong and decisive, while her detractors argue that she was too dogmatic and inflexible; although no one disputes her impact on the political and economic stage.

Certainly the challenge for any Bahamian leader or business manager is ‘Getting The Balance Right’ and finding the point of equilibrium between leading and following, principle and pragmatism or engagement and detachment.  How to effectively achieve this is the mission of Peter Shaw, an executive coach who was formerly a director general within the UK government and a member of five different government department boards.

Within his book ‘Getting The Balance Right’ the author explains what it means to be a leader within a rapidly changing world.  "Leading is often about setting a tone.  If the leader is measured and calm, then others in the organization are likely to take on a similar demeanour.  Conversely, if they have a short fuse and a rude manner, that is what others in their team will regard as 'normal behaviour.’  In other words, as managers are continually faced with new challenges, getting the balance between the short and long term, the individual and the team, activity and reflection, and being resolute and adaptable is crucial if business success is to be achieved.

According to Shaw, being an effective leader or successful manager means knowing when to listen, bring clarity by setting clear expectations, and subsequently adapting your approach to meet the needs of different individuals and groups.  I would also add that a leader should not take themselves too seriously, and be able to acknowledge and learn from their mistakes.  This underpinning theory is demonstrated by case studies showing you how to achieve balance, despite the ever changing leadership challenges and business priorities.

‘Getting The Balance Right’ should appeal to all leaders and managers and is relevant to the private, public and voluntary sectors across the Caribbean.  The unavoidable conclusion is that leading and managing well does not require you to copy Baroness Thatcher, but to strive to get the balance right by adjusting your style and approach – today and tomorrow.


• ‘Getting the Balance Right’ by Peter Shaw.

Published by Marshall Cavendish International and available from www.Amazon.com.


Keith Appleton JP, BA (Hons), N.Dip.M, MInstLM has extensive experience within an academic, managerial and strategic leadership role.  He is a member of the UK Institute of Leadership & Management and can be contacted at KeithAppleton@Hotmail.co.uk or follow him at twitter.com/WritingRightNow.


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