A Balancing Act for Life


June 5, 2007

by Marshall Goldsmith

Hubert Rampersad is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. His interests range from corporate quality to individual happiness. His book, Personal Balanced Scorecard: The Way to Individual Happiness, Personal Integrity and Organizational Effectiveness, which has been translated into 20 languages, discusses the intersection of individual and organizational well-being.

He has developed an overall framework that integrates methodologies such as performance management, talent management, and total quality management, and enables organizations and individuals to work together for common benefit.

He and I recently talked about his work, his efforts to integrate individual and organizational benefit, and the connection his integrated model has to coaching. Edited excerpts of our conversation follow:

Hubert, what is the personal balanced scorecard? 

The personal balanced scorecard (PBSC) encompasses personal ambition (mission, vision, and key roles), critical success factors, objectives, performance measures, targets, and improvement actions. Personal ambition is a set of guiding principles that clearly states who you are, where you are going, where you want to be, etc., and that embodies your values. The PBSC elements are divided among four perspectives, which should be in balance:

1. Internal: your physical health and mental state

2. External: relations with your spouse, children, friends, employer, colleagues, and others

3. Knowledge and learning: your skills and learning ability

4. Financial: fiscal stability

What I like about your process is that you recognize that individuals have self-interest – and that is O.K. I am always amazed at the way many corporations expect their employees to worship the corporate god and act like they have no self-interest at all. To me, this delusion just promotes phoniness and pretense. 

How is your PBSC related to individual and executive coaching? 

The PBSC coaching framework consists of 10 steps, which focus on two distinct areas: life and career coaching and executive coaching. PBSC life and career coaching is related to personal effectiveness and growth in life. The emphasis is on excelling in everything you do, making the right choices in developing your future, having a happier and more fulfilling life, and facing new life challenges.

PBSC executive coaching focuses on managers who would like to develop their personal leadership, improve employee performance, enhance employee engagement, empower their employees, create trust and a real learning organization, increase employee self-responsibility and work enjoyment, and ultimately, enhance sustainable organizational effectiveness.

How do you get people to develop self-awareness, to think deeply during this coaching process, about who they are, where they are going, their dreams, their values, and to see the big picture and their place in it? 

I’ve introduced an integrated breathing and silence exercise – as part of the PBSC coaching process – which has proven to be very effective. By paying attention to your own thoughts during this exercise, you can discover your desired identity and you will be able to distance yourself from your preconceived mind-set.

I teach people to be open to all images that come up in their minds, based on personal ambition questions (for example, “What makes me happy?” “Who am I?” or “What is my main purpose in life?”), and listening carefully to the answers of their inner voice to help them learn to look at life with new eyes, and perceive what goes on within them.

That part sounds like fun to me. How is the PBSC related to career development? 

Formulation and implementation of one’s PBSC lead to career and personal lifestyle choices, continuous personal development, effective use of one’s talents, self-learning, continued taking up of challenges, greater awareness of one’s responsibilities, and development of one’s creativity. Through this, one creates the conditions for sustainable career and talent development.

Based on your approach, how do you create awareness for personal integrity? 

To develop personal integrity, it is necessary first to find a balance between your personal behavior and your personal ambition. The central questions in this contemplative process are: Do I act in accordance with my conscience? Is there consistency between what I am thinking and what I am doing? Does my personal ambition reflect my desire to act ethically? Have I done what was right?

You mentioned alignment between personal and shared ambition to stimulate employee engagement and commitment. How do you see that working? 

Employees are often willing to work together toward the goals of the organization with dedication when there is a match between their personal ambition and the shared ambition of their organization. I therefore recommend introducing a one-on-one ambition meeting between the line-manager or superior and his/her employee. Although there will never be a perfect fit between individual and organizational goals, these sessions improve the probability of increased alignment.

This is a periodic, informal, voluntary, and confidential meeting between a line-manager and his/her employees, with the employee’s PBSC and the shared ambition as topics. This has an impact on the organizational bonding of the employees. It gives them the proud feeling that they count, that they are appreciated as human beings, and that they make a useful and valuable contribution to the organization.

What you’re suggesting puts new demands on managers and human resource officers in an organization. 

Line managers and HR officers should understand that a healthy home situation has an important influence on work performances and this should not be ignored. Their task is also to encourage their employees to apply their PBSC within their family and to help improve the situation at home. HR has a new role in improving the quality of life of employees, having them enter into greater challenges, letting them enjoy their work, and making them happy.

My goal is to give our readers a variety of different perspectives on life and careers. While I do the small things, to help successful leaders achieve positive change in behavior, you are looking at the whole picture. I think that the type of introspection you suggest in the PBSC approach can be useful for any of us. 

If any of your readers have further questions on how they can apply the PBSC process in their own lives, please let them know that they are invited to visit my Web site or contact me directly.