The balancing act – leadership mentoring

Leadership is always a balancing act. What is the scope of ones responsibilities, what resources are available and whose expectations must be met? This list puts words to a few of the many questions a leader faces.

Leaders in non-profits, churches and para-church settings share common pressures with other organizational leaders. In addition they often have the added stress related to fundraising, governing boards, constituencies and other institutional uniqueness.

Leaders of small to mid-size organizations may find themselves as solo staff members. For some, their position is an initiation into the profession of their choosing.

Leaders often find that they are called upon to be a “jack of all trades”. The scope of responsibilities, spoken and unspoken, may be as broad as the imagination can envision. This often leads to unrealistic expectations and overwhelming pressures.

When a leader is burdened by responsibilities they aren’t good at, they tend to procrastinate or avoid the situation. This is negative in that: 1) the responsibilities do not disappear, 2) others may become frustrated that things aren’t being cared for and 3) the leader’s performance and satisfaction are diminished by the nagging, unfinished tasks.

My hope is to come alongside leaders and help them identify and manage those tough tasks thereby allowing the leader to work from strength.


Here’s the setting:

  • Person/position – organizational leader, solo, or with a small team
  • Organization – high expectations of those to whom you report
  • Organizational oversight – spoken or unspoken belief that you are responsible for everything
  • Responsibilities – everything, or at least it feels like everything
  • Situation – built-in failure, the scope of responsibilities will almost always force the leader to function in areas of weakness
  • Common response – ignore or procrastinate (hope things will disappear of take care of themselves)
  • Probable outcome – frustration and possible failure, loss of focus/passion, detracts from areas of strength. There can be a nagging sense of things left undone that colors all other experiences


  • Get help – identify a mentor
  • Create partnership with your governing body – make this a team effort. Inform them of the situation, the need and hoped for response
  • Identify areas of weaknesses – outside input is helpful for clarity
  • Set and implement strategy to manage weaknesses – outside input is helpful for accountability
  • Monitor progress – change takes time and effort, but it’s worth it and outside input is helpful for follow-through
  • Make adjustments as needed – initial plans get us started, the best of plans may need adjusting after implementation
  • Breathe, live and go forward – celebrate the change by focusing fully on your strengths and relaxing fully when off the clock

Meeting once or twice a month we can access areas impeding a leaders progress and develop and implement a plan. By reducing the stress of being haunted by one’s weaknesses a leader can find freedom to focus on strengths and more fully enjoy all of life.


Contact me to begin the process of working together.


Jim Schmotzer & associates

November 2011

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