Love/Hate: The New Balance of Management

In my last post I talked about how management challenges are a lot like long distance running.  New Balance shoes brilliantly branded the running experience in their ad campaign “Love/Hate, the New Balance.” Anyone who’s ever been out for a long run knows exactly what they mean.

Running is easy to hate. It’s hard work, as is sticking to any exercise routine. It takes discipline to get out of bed on a cold winter morning to go to the gym or run on the track. After jogging a while, our bodies naturally send signals to our brains to stop and rest. Midway through a long jog, our finish line can seem overwhelmingly far away and thoughts of stopping can creep into our consciousness.

So where’s the love? What keeps us going on those early mornings? How and why do people become addicted to running? Is it more than the runner’s high or the feeling of health and well-being? Whatever it is, some runners grow to love this taxing and often grueling sport.

Let’s get back to business. To me, management is the new love/hate balance. It takes discipline to get into the office early to get a head start on the day. Our natural instincts may tell us to avoid confrontation, making difficult performance discussions uncomfortable. When times get tough the solutions, or finish lines, to problems like staffing, morale, and financial results may feel overwhelmingly far away. Tired, uncomfortable, and overwhelmed, how do we find the will to keep going?

The reality is we signed up for these challenges when we laced up our management shoes. For me, some days are better than others, and  some days I feel like the runner who doesn’t want to get out of bed. Then there are days when I love the struggle and challenge of what I do, days that remind me how and why I became addicted to leadership. I love overcoming complex challenges. I love sticking to a plan until we achieve our goals. I love celebrating results with a proud team at the end of a big quarter.

So this is my suggestion. Focus on the love not the hate. Love the struggle, the challenges that come with leading people. If we push ourselves through the tough days, success awaits us at the finish line.