A simple model for creating balance
Updated: Oct 5
Task | Team | Self
This model was first introduced to me in leadership training as a new senior manager. It was designed to help us reconsider how we balanced our time as we transitioned from single teams to large multi disciplined departments.
There was recognition that our previous experience of management had likely come from doing; having worked our way up the ranks by nailing a task and being able to show others how it was done. Rolling up our sleeves and getting stuck in when times were tough.
As senior managers, however, we would be required to oversee, manage and motivate teams in more specialised areas that we had little or no experience in.
Whereas previously we had relied on our own skills and experience, going forward we needed to rely on information from others and our judgement. Asking the right questions and leveraging relationships.
We needed a different approach.
Additionally, as THE point of escalation for multiple teams, we will be required to mitigate multiple issues in less familiar areas. We would need to be able to keep a level head in order to process information carefully and make balanced decisions.
Neurologically speaking, we are at our most mentally capable when we are operating in our steady state. I.e. NOT stressed. That feeling of running on adrenaline is actually a false positive when it comes to problem solving, as our capacity for lateral thinking is reduced when our fight or flight mode is activated. So recognising and being able to reduce our automatic stress response is critical.
Recognising the importance of strong resilience in managing stress, we as senior managers were given this model to help us assess and adjust how we balance our time. Ensuring that we gave equal importance to nurturing key relationships that we will rely on in times of trouble as we would recharging our batteries and doing our ‘work’.
The fact that we were so strongly directed to take responsibility for our own mental health stuck with me. The importance placed on self care for a productive workforce has continued to grow, with organisations spending more on mindfulness, mindset coaching and team building than ever before.
And this applies to everyone outside of the corporate world just as much, if not more.
All work and no play doesn’t just make Jack a dull boy, but it will definitely lead to burn out if it goes unchecked.
Clients facing burn out have often failed to invest in one of the three critical support systems in the model, or failed to adjust when one was severely impacted. Founders and entrepreneurs are especially guilty of rolling up their sleeves and fixing all the issues with less and less time looking after their own needs.
And that’s where this model has helped me and many clients assess, rebalance and implement tools to recover from, reduce the impact of or prevent fall out from whatever stressful scenarios we need to face. Ideally before you hit burn out.
I’m sharing this model with you as I learnt and have used it with my teams and clients. A quick google suggests it may have been influenced by or adapted from John Adair’s action leadership model, but interpreted quite differently.
Imagine a stool with 3 legs: Task, Team and Self.
When each leg is strong, you are stable and balanced. You thrive.
When you understand and protect what gives you strength and energy in each area, you can actually withstand huge issues in one or two areas. And will recover faster from a crisis.
This is resilience.
But fail to invest and maintain that equilibrium and you will be knocked off balance with the slightest bump.
So take some time to consider what is needed to build and maintain strength in each and across all three critical support systems. Ensure you balance your time, giving equal importance to each.
Ensure that you have reliable activities AND protected time that give you what you need in each area:
Task: the work you need or want to do
Team: your network of friends, family and professional contacts that you rely on and connect with
Self: how you BOTH switch off AND recharge
We all know what we like to do to unwind and recharge, but sadly this is often the first thing to go when time is tight. But by ensuring you take time out to meet friends, go dancing or wild swimming could actually be the perfect break your brain needs to reset and begin working for you again.
So, it's important to understand what gives you energy as much as burns it in each area and ensure you have some protected time to recharge.
And when one area has many cracks, strains or pains you need to face, you will need to dial up the comfort and recharge in other areas to bring back that balance.