Balanced Leadership, by Leonard W. Heflich, is a heartfelt manual for anyone who wants to lead with humanity, purpose, and intentionality.
Rooted in Heflich’s four decades of experience as a leader in the food service industry, the book’s central conceit is that all great leadership skills must thrive in moderation, with no one trait overwhelming the others. He writes, “Balanced leadership requires that we consider what is lurking on the other side of the coin in every situation and in every decision that we make.” The book’s first portion focuses on teasing this concept out across various areas, with chapter titles including “Balance in Leadership,” “Balance in Leading Yourself,” and “Balance in Leading Others.”
The book’s second section, with chapters entitled “Communication,” “Balance in Challenge,” and “Making Balanced Decisions,” explores the concept of balance when there are factors present outside of one’s control. As Heflich notes, “the balance point is a dynamic point, constantly changing as conditions around us change. The challenge for the leader is to search constantly for the optimal balance…recognizing that perfection is neither possible nor affordable.”
Balanced Leadership breaks little new ground, instead providing the “best hits” of leadership study, covering topics like the importance of mission, vision, and values, emotional intelligence, and difficult conversations. However, the earnestness of Heflich’s presentation gives the book the warm feel of a “last lecture,” where the author’s wisdom, rather than the novelty of the topics or approach, is the draw.
There are a few nuanced areas where Heflich shares unusual thinking, including a refreshing perspective on email. He writes, “An email may be a good way to introduce a topic, but it is usually not a good way to gain consensus or alignment of a team or group.” Good counsel that more modern leaders should heed!
Balanced Leadership is a joyful capturing of one man’s leadership legacy. It doesn’t forge new territory, but the author’s companionship makes the journey worthwhile.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.