Zen Leader Blog

Leadership Development and the Rule of "Just Enough"

Posted by Diane Chencharick

Sep 12, 2012 8:11:00 PM

enoughThe Swedes have a great word for this: Lagom, which roughly translates as "enough, sufficient, or just right." Too often, in today's world of avid consumerism, we get caught in a "good, better, best" way of thinking and find ourselves applying that principle to all aspects of our lives, including leadership. Our tendency to overdo can lead to "leadership obesity" which manifests in many undesirable ways: the ultimate problem-solver who fails to empower their employees, or the achievement-driven leader who drives for success at all costs. "Just as we don't serve ourselves well from overeating, we do ourselves no favor by over-indulging these needs," states Ginny Whitelaw, in The Zen Leader. If you'd like a memorable visual of "leadership gorging," I invite you to watch The Zen Leader Animated.

To develop leaders using the concept of "just enough," The Zen Leader prompts us to pause and ask those questions that bring self-awareness to the situation. "When we jump in and do a task that we're comfortable with, but someone else could be doing, we might ask, Am I really the right person to do this, or am I doing this only to satisfy my own need for accomplishment? When we push ourselves too hard and edge toward burnout, we might ask, Does this situation call for this extreme response, or am I doing this because I'm only happy when I'm achieving?" The answers won't always be the same, but they will bring clarity to the source. "Pausing to face our needs at any level, and ensuring we're meeting them just enough and not to the point of greed, we make the flip from compulsively using life to serve our needs into using our needs to effectively serve life."

Changing awareness from "It's all about me" to "I'm all about it" is one of the "flips" in consciousness that The Zen Leader walks you through and is an integral part of leading by the "just enough" rule. Do you recognize the faces of "It's all about me?" Look at these statements below and see how they can be flipped around to change your perspective and how you serve the situation:

  • Only I can do this.  >  I'd enjoy doing this, but who else can learn from this?
  • I need to market myself better.  >  How can I add real and visible value?
  • I'm worried about money.  >  I can be prudent about money and resourceful about living with just enough if I have to.
  • If our groups get merge, I may be out of a job.  >  Our groups merging may signal it's time for a new chapter for me.
If we meet our needs at every level using "just enough," what we become are Servant Leaders, who don't get "stuck" in the vicious cycle of self-fulfillment. We have fuel and freedom to serve the whole situation, letting our strengths and true nature shine.

The Zen Leader is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback and e-reader editions. "Like" The Zen Leader on Facebook to receive regular updates.

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Topics: leadership development, the zen leader, servant leadership, Ginny Whitelaw, just enough, lagom

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This blog is dedicated to the concepts described in the book The Zen Leader by Ginny Whitelaw.  In this blog we discuss how these concepts are applied to a variety of current situations and applications, helping us all unleash the Zen Leader within us!

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