How to Change the Climate

Climate matters in crowds, in teams, in organizations. Does one person have the power to shift the climate from fun to frustrating? Can another person change it back? What can you do?

It’s Cold?

We were bundled up in our coats and boots, but the biting air still stung as we waited in line for the Hershey Park Christmas show. Sebastian looked up at me with his hot chocolate-stained grin. “Mommy, do you think we will get in?”— A question being asked throughout the line by other sticky children. The friendly usher came through reminding us that at our point in the line, there were “no guarantees” that we would see this show, but there was another show that evening.

The doors opened. At first the line moved fast, but then it came to a sudden stop with about a dozen people ahead of us as we approached the door. That’s when the climate began to shift.

A man in his late 30s started causing commotion. “I MUST get into the show. My wife went ahead and is saving seats.”

“Sir, we don’t allow seat saving.”

“But, ” And then the litany of reasons HIS needs were the most important ones in the park. The scene got louder and louder as this man shared his urgent need to hear Silent Night. Exasperated, the teenaged girl watching the door finally gave up. The man went in.

The climate began to shift again.

One man piped up, laughing “my triplet two year olds are in there all by themselves, I must go in.”

And then another smiled, “this show is the most important thing of my whole Christmas season.”

The climate got even lighter “my sister is in the show” and another, “my sister’s cousin is in the show too.”

And finally, “my pet monkey went ahead, and who knows what he will do if left unattended.”

Soon all the cold, frustrated wait-ers were laughing.

Folks began looking at their families “you know there are lots of other things we could go do to keep warm.” “we can always go to the next show.” “perhaps we should let the families with little kids go in and we’ll just go see the reindeer.”

What Can You Do to Impact the Climate?

Everywhere we look there are people who think their needs matter most. That their situation is the most vital. Sometimes they are right. Often not.

We have choices on how to react to such noisemakers.

Join in the debate? Engage in a show and tell of whose needs matter more?


Chose to let go of the small stuff. Work to lighten the mood. Search for alternative solutions. Work together to change the climate of the crowd?

The 30 minute show was cute. The more meaningful lesson was outside in the frosty air, with one warm leader choosing to lighten the mood.

The crowd chose peace and understanding.


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Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.


  1. Several years ago, while being prepped for a stent operation, I asked the surgeon, “Doc, have you done one of these before?” He and the operating team got a good laugh. I think he said this was his 10th that day.

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