Act with Creativity: The Third Pillar of Total Leadership
If you try to balance work and life, sometimes...sometimes...you can achieve a win-win - but it's rare. When you try to juggle, most often, you end up dropping all the balls you're trying to keep in the air.
The misguided, and outdated, concept of work/life balance prompted Stewart Friedman to develop a different model: Total Leadership. When we integrate work, home, community, and self, we can achieve four-way wins - meeting the needs and achieve goals of each domain. Why settle for the rare win-win when you can score more four-way victories! The question is: how do you create the changes you want?
The Pillars of Total Leadership: A Quick Recap
Friedman, founding director of the Wharton Leadership Program and Wharton's Work/Life Integration Project, suggests that integrating the four domains of life - work, home, community, and self - begins with embracing these three principles:
- Be real (act with authenticity).
- Be whole (act with integrity).
- Be innovative (act with creativity.)
Being real requires us to identify our priorities. What matters to our work, home, community, and self? How can we act in alignment with these values? Being whole asks us to think about how we can bring our entire self to each domain - without giving one or the other short shift.
Acting with Creativity
Finally, being innovative calls on us to "act with creativity in identifying and pursuing more four-way wins." Two of the most important skills we need to do this are:
- Focusing on Results. To hone this skill, try scenario exercises. Identify a specific goal (e.g. increasing productivity at work or spending more time volunteering in your community). List three ways you can achieve this goal. What resources will you need? What challenges will you face?
- Seeing new ways of doing things. Two heads are better than one. Well, it depends. But when you have a group of creative folks on which to draw, this adage definitely applies. Tell them about a problem or challenge you're facing. Ask if they have any solutions, and choose one you think will work best. Create a plan - and implement it.
If, after about a month, it hasn't worked, revise the plan or try another of the suggestions from your "brain trust." Make sure to incorporate lessons learned from the first attempt. And if it does work, on to the next challenge. Either way, you've just discovered a powerful way to score more four-way wins.
As you work to act with creativity, you'll will also have to hone your skills in to resolving conflicts you encounter among the four domains, challenging the status quo, being open to change, and helping others around you embrace change as well.
Remember, Friedman himself said the Total Leadership process was "straightforward, though not simple." The steps themselves make sense; the hard part is figuring out how to make the changes you want in your life - and then actually implementing them.
Experimenting: The Key to More Four-Way Wins
Friedman writes that insights gleaned from acting with authenticity and acting with integrity create "opportunities for you to focus your attention more intelligently, spurring innovative action."
He suggests designing and implementing "experiments" to see how they affect your life across all four domains (as well as to help you practice the skills mentioned above). "If an experiment doesn't work out, you stop or adjust, and little is lost. If it does work out, it's a small win." These small wins accumulate to facilitate major changes.
What does such an experiment look like? Don't worry; no mad scientists involved. In addition to the scenario exercises and "crowdsourcing" methods above, you could:
- Try altering your routine. Make a small change in how or when things get done and measure the ripple effects. For instance, if you usually hit the gym or go for a run after work, try waking up a bit early and doing it before. Does this give you more energy throughout the day? Are you able to spend more time with friends and family after work?
- Keep a journal or record of your activities over the course of a month. As you were working on them, what were you thinking? How did you feel? At the end of the month, reflect on how these actions influence your performance in all domains as well as your quality of life.
Friedman reminds us that "All effective experiments require that you question traditional assumptions about how things get done." What can you do to achieve greater integration in your life - and score more four-way wins?