Strategic Silliness: When To Lighten The Mood

The deal was important and could lead to future work. I was impressed with this company, but had some valid concerns. They brought their Chairman to the table to help close the deal.

“Karin, I know you’ll be very impressed with what you see here today. We’ve got a great track record of results, and numbers to back it up. I can’t wait for the team to share more about our programs. But before that, I’ve written you a little song.”

He pulled out a piece of notebook paper with the song he penned, and began to sing. His a capella serenade included why we should give them a shot. The mood was instantly lightened by his silliness. My guard dropped a bit. He sang, I listened more deeply.

“Children have one kind of silliness, as you know, and grown-ups have another kind.”
~ C.S. Lewis

What followed was a highly-professional presentation with data, video, tours, side by sides. They proved they were the best. I hired them. Not because of the song, but not in spite of it either. Silliness has serious benefits.

Well-timed Silliness Can:

  • Break the ice
  • Show you’re real
  • Show you are bold
  • Energize the meeting
  • Showcase creativity
  • Build relationships
  • Create memories

Strategic Silliness Precautions

After my standing ovation to his song, I responded: “Great stuff”. NEVER do that at our corporate headquarters. We both grinned knowingly.


  • must be timed well, with a receptive audience
  • works best with kindred spirits
  • can’t stand alone (surround it with great results and execution)
  • works because it’s unusual and infrequent
  • is tasteful
  • What would you add?

5 Words You Should Say Every Day

Leadership impact comes in the context of the mundane. Every day little words inspire connection more than any grand speech you could deliver. It’s what you say when you think it doesn’t matter that matters. They notice the way you answer the phone, or your reaction in the hallway.

“Every day brings new choices”
~ Martha Beck

The choices you make when you’re excited, rushed, tired, hungry, annoyed, eager – all matter. Choose wisely. The daily cadence of great leadership seldom feels remarkable.

5 Words You Say Every Day

Small interactions add up. The simplest words prove most useful. In fact they’re tough to over use.

  1. Help – Help is one of the most under-leveraged words in leadership. “How can I best help?” “What help do you need?” “Who else can be helpful?” Just as importantly is asking for help as needed. Being both helpful and helped each day builds genuine connections and does wonders productivity.
  2. Thanks – Not just casual, in passing kind of thanks..but a genuine pause of appreciation. Work to truly thank and appreciate at least one person every day.
  3. Because – It’s easy to assume your team understands your rationale or thinking. What may seem obvious to you often gets lost in translation, particularly if there are a few degrees of separation. “We’re doing this because”, “I need this information because”, “Your work is so important because”, “He was selected for this project because”.
  4. Why – Just as important as explaining the “because” is asking “why?” A curious and kind tone is particularly vital here. “Why do we do it that way?” “Why is this the priority?” “Why are you interested in that new job?” Great leaders ask “why” more than most.
  5. Who – When leaders move too quickly, important “whos” get lost. “Who should we involve?” “Who does this best?” “Who else needs to know?”

5 Ways To Benefit From A Disengaged Boss

Ideally your boss is interested, eager to remove roadblocks, asking provocative questions, and helping build your career. That’s the leader I wish for you, and want you to be. But, with 71% of workers disengaged, chances are one day or another you’ll work for a disengaged boss.

5 Benefits of a Disengaged Boss

On the surface it sucks. Your team’s killing themselves and your boss is just not paying attention. You ask for feedback, and he says everything is “fine.” Your updates fall into a black hole. You worry about your team, and your career.

Cheer up, played well, there’s upside to a disengaged boss:

  1. Freedom to Experiment – Don’t go crazy, but try creative approaches to improve the business. Pilot that new idea. Try leading differently. Enjoy the freedom to try new things without the need to constantly read out on your every move. Then package your success stories and share best practices.
  2. Broadened Network – Your boss is not the only one you can learn from. Having a disengaged boss can push you to broaden your network. Seek out mentors and other advocates. Look for opportunities to interface with his boss. Invest in your peer relationships.
  3. Marketing Your Work – You’re going to have to work a bit harder to get your work noticed. Use this opportunity to build those skills. Work on streamlining your emails and improving your presentation skills. Schedule time with your boss and others to share information and get the feedback you need. Reach out to other stakeholders. Having to work a bit harder will build important skills.
  4. Strategic Thinking – A disengaged boss will force you to work a level up. Consider what you would say in his position. Learn as much as you can about the bigger context for your work. Be the boss you wish you had.
  5. Teambuilding – Nothing brings teams together more than a common cause. Invest deeply in your peers. Leverage one another’s skills. Support each other’s development. A disengaged boss won’t be around for long, but your peer relationships can last through your whole career.

How To Be A Great Follower

If your house is on fire, you want to know there’s someone calling the shots. More importantly, you pray for a team of strong, skilled, and courageous followers. My husband’s a firefighter, he knows the life and death importance of following well.

My friend, a Battalion chief leading the City’s firefighters, shares great stories of hiring for, and developing, great followers. Sure, he has a succession plan and builds leadership at every level.

But when the city’s burning, the character and skills of the followers are just as vital. Great leaders nurture followership. Great leaders know how and when to follow.

6 Ways To Be a Better Follower

Great leaders grow other leaders. They also nurture followership. As I look back over the years to the best followers on my teams, 6 characteristics stand out.

F – Focus

Focused energy. Passionate drive. Great followers focus on results and outcomes. They care deeply about their craft. They focus on the details and doing the best work possible.

O – Open to feedback and new ideas

Great followers have open hearts and minds. They want to improve and seek out feedback. They are open to people, change, and new ideas.

L – Loyal

Strong followers are loyal to the cause and to the team. They rise above drama and gossip and give folks the benefit of the doubt. They offer feedback from a place of deep concern. They’ll take one for the team.

L – Learning

Learning is second nature for great followers. They learn from experience, failure and success, introspection, and other people. They read books and seek out mentors. Learning is exciting and fun.

O – Offer Solutions and take initiative

Great followers care and solve problems. They turn expertise into creative solutions. They speak up and tell the truth.

W – Work as “We”

Great followers work well with others. They share best practices, workload, credit and feedback. They have each other’s backs.

What Makes Leaders Different?

Leaders don’t fail because of skills. Mark Miller, author of The Heart of Leadership, explains that most leadership failures are a matter of heart. I asked Mark for his advice for leaders working to grow other leaders: How do we help aspiring leaders to develop heart-based qualities?

A lot of it comes down to mentoring suggests Mark:

“Listen a lot. Work to understand their goals, aspirations and troubles. Never set the agenda, let it come from them even if it doesn’t feel practical.”

He also shares the most important characteristic is encouraging them to think about others first. “Until they’ve mastered that, none of the other important leadership characteristics can be fully developed.”

The Heart of Leadership is an easy-to-read story of a growing leader, supported by mentors and insights along the way. He explores what makes leaders “different” than other good people with integrity and other strong characteristics. He talks about leaders having HEART.


H – Hunger for Wisdom (leaders are on a constant quest to know more)

E – Expect the Best (leaders are optimistic, and have high expectations of themselves and others)

A – Accept Responsibility (leaders own the result of their team’s actions)

R – Respond with Courage (leaders say, do, and act with integrity, even when it’s difficult)

T – Think Others First (leaders serve others, and put other’s needs first)

“Most men and women who struggle with leadership have issues of the heart.” Help leaders dig deeper and explore those areas.

What Do You Think Makes Leaders Different?

And now for some LGL community fun. Mark has generously given me 20 copies of the Heart of Leadership to share with the LGL Community. I’ll send a free copy to the first 20 commenters who share their perspective.

What Makes Leaders Different?

You can read the first chapter for free by clicking here. You can also find the Heart of Leadership on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere.

Expert Advice On Values And Vision: A Frontline Festival

Delighted to offer an expert collection of thoughts on values and vision. Inspiring and practical advice. Thanks to all who shared their wonderful insights.


Amazing stories and practical advice related to defining, articulating and living your leadership values:

Skip Prichard, Leadership Insights shares Learning From the Legacy of Johnny Cash. Johnny Cash had a powerful set of values guiding his life. He pursued his own dream while inspiring millions. Follow Skip @SkipPrichard

Lolly DaskalLead From Within, shares Voice Your Values. It’s not just enough to have values, we need to articulate them for ourselves and others. Be inspired by Lolly’s tweets @LollyDaskal

Chantal Bechervaise, Take It Personel-ly shares Leadership offers 4 Ways to Act With Integrity And Humility. For more being in a position of leadership is hard work and you need to keep earning it every day. Follow Chantal @CBechervaise

Linda Fisher, Leading in Context brings us Leadership Responsibility: The Movement. It is becoming increasingly clear that responsibility is not optional in a global society – it is at the heart of our leadership when we lead well. Learn more from Linda @leadingincontxt

Scott MabryElumn8, offers Speaking of Leadership Part One – 5 Phrases That Connect. Words have tremendous power. In particular when they come from someone we respect or who is in authority over us. Successful parents, teachers and leaders of all types recognize the importance of instilling belief and confidence in the hearts of those whom they love and serve. Find Scott @scott_elumn8

David Dye, Trailblaze, challenges you to examine your leadership vision and values as he shares a wealthy businessman’s experience ranching on Christmas Eve. Before You Chose to Lead: Secret of a Gentleman Rancher. Follow Dave @davidmdye

Julie Winkle Giulioni,, shares her Smartblog post, Symbolic leadership: What do you stand for or where do you sit. Actions do speak louder than words; she offers some great examples. Catch Julie @Julie_WGT


Great posts and inspiring stories on why vision is critical and how to build and live it:

Jesse Lynn Stoner, Seapoint Center, hosted a great series The Value of Vision which she summarizes in How Important Is Vision in Leadership, with excerpts from Wally Bock’s response. You can catch links to all the post in the series in this summary. Find Jesse @JesseLynStoner

Jennifer Miller of The People Equation shares The Power of Believe – and How It Influences Your Vision. Powerful belief can cause people to see things that aren’t really there. As a leader, are your firmly held beliefs clouding your vision? More from Jen @JenniferVMiller

Frank Sonnenberg, FrankSonnenbergOnline brings us Leadership: Creating a Vision. Leaders must create a shared vision that shapes the way employees feel about their organization. They must make the company / our company – a place where people work together instead of doing their own thing. Follow Frank @FSonnenberg

Jon Hunter, Curious Cat Improvement Blog brings us Long Term Thinking with Respect for People. Restricting the pull of short-term gains that risk long-term survivability is key to good leadership. Viewing the organization as a system requires evaluating the long-term impact of practices and decisions. Learn more from Jon @curiouscat.

Mike Henry Sr, Lead Change Group, inspires us toward bigger vision in The Value of Vision. There are great benefits and rewards from having a compelling vision of the future. It will pull you through your circumstances, push you to great accomplishments and encourage others to join you in your effort. Follow Mike and learn more about the Lead Change Group @mikehenrysr

Ali Anani shares his presentation, The Cost of Poor Vision on Companies. He articulates the importance of vision as a unifying force, and the dangers when it is missing. Follow Ali @alianani15

Joy and Tom Guthrie, Vizwerx Group, LLC, always spice up the Festival with their great art. Follow Joy @joy_guthrie

Dan Rockwell, Leadership Freak offers The Seven Qualities of Visionary Leaders. Vision always centers on people never projects, programs, properties, or profits. Vision focused on anything other than people is ego driven exploitation. For more inspiration from Dan @leadershipfreak

Alli Polin, Break the Frame brings us Consider it to be a privilege, not a right: High Value or Cool Tool. As a leader, how do you increase the successful adoption of new technologies and processes? It starts with your vision. Find Alli @AlliPolin

Chery Gegleman, Simply Understanding asks Leaders STAND For Something ~ When Do You Stand. You need to know what you STAND for before you are faced with the situation. Have you considered what you STAND for? Is your STAND written down? Here more from Chery @GianaConsulting

Matt McWilliams, Life. Leadership. Love. Learned the Hard Way brings us Overcommunicate Vision. If you are a leader, your team should know your vision so well that they can recite it first thing in the morning. Here are 7 easy steps to developing, communicating, and drilling home a vision. Find him on twitter @MattMcWilliams2

Jon Mertz, Thin Difference asks the provocative question, Is Vision Still Valid?. Changes happen everywhere, and vision isn’t saving us. While visions have just become words, clarity of action and philosophy of leadership may be a better way forward. Learn more from Jon @ThinDifference

Tanveer Naseer, Tanverr Naseer Leadership, shares Encouraging Your Employees To Reach For The Moon. In this piece, I share the story of a janitor at NASA and what it reveals of how we can encourage our employees to take our vision and help make it a reality. Follow Tanveer @TanveerNaseer

LaRae Quy, Empower The Leader In You shares, 6 Ways to Be Happier By Boosting Your Positive Intelligence. A leader with high positive intelligence is someone who has the mental toughness to move forward and find both meaning and happiness regardless of their circumstances. Learn more from @LaRaeQuy

Mark Miller, Great Leaders Serve shares Vision: A Lot More Than Words. Visit back next week for my interview with Mark about his new book. Find him @LeadersServe

Robyn McLeodThoughtful Leaders Blog offers ideas and questions for creating the kind of vision statement that can come to life every day in your organization. A Great Vision Propels You Out of Bed. For many organizations, their visions are nothing more than words on posters thumb-tacked to the office bulletin board. Find Robyn @ThoughtfulLdrs

Lynne Bryan Phipps of Inspirited Living shares a story of one leader’s vision and journey toward creating a charter school. The Compass School: Lynne Bryan Phipps Creates Lifelong Learners. More from Lynne @InspiritedLife

Kate Nasser, Smart SenseAbilities, brings us Leadership People Skills: Achieve Vision Through Values vs Ultimatums. People skills are the right stuff – not the fluff – of leadership. They respect, honor, and engage all to achieve the org. vision. Here are 3 unsuspecting moments where people skills can fail you and how to fix them. Follow her @KateNasser

Artika Tyner, brings us her post on the Commission for Social Justice Educator’s BlogPlanting People, Growing Justice: Training Students to Lead Social Change. The social justice challenges of our time have created a pressing need for strong leaders to take a stand and initiate action. This post offers a two step process for developing one’s vision for leadership and building social change. Learn more from Artika @DrArtikaTyner

let's grow leaders

Call For Submissions

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, November’s Frontline Festival is all about Gratitude. Submissions due November 8th. Please submit a post here.

5 Reasons Your Email Isn't Working

5 Email Blunders Damaging Your Productivity and Reputation

You’re way past email blunder basics: replying to all with snarky remarks, sending the note intended for your wife to your boss or emailing when you’re angry. Your emails aren’t obviously stupid, so why aren’t they working?

5 Advanced Email Blunders

  1. The Barrage Effect – I was preparing the senior leader for an impromptu meeting on an unfamiliar subject. I wanted her to be as prepared as possible so I went through my inbox and forwarded the relevant information. One email had data, the other trends, the other some commentary that would give her a sense of the political landscape. I carefully commented on each one to explain the context. The phone rang. “Karin, I’m searching my inbox for your name and deleting everything that’s come from you. Now I want you to send me one email with concise bullets I can share at this meeting, nothing else.” When it comes to email, less is more. Summarize, synthesize, use bullets.
  2. It Should Be A Phone Call – I read his email three times. I wasn’t quite sure what he was saying, but it was ticking me off. I filled in the blanks with my missing assumptions. We went back and forth 3 times before we got to the root of the matter. Email feels easy and less disruptive, but often wastes time and drains energy. It the topic is complex, contentious, or emotional pick up the phone or schedule a call.
  3. Too Many CC:’s – I could feel her anger burn through the phone. “Why did he cc you on this email? I’ve got this! I’m not ccing his boss.” It hadn’t struck me as offensive.  I had taken it as an FYI. But to the leader neck-deep in resolution, it felt like an escalation. Be sensitive to who you’re copying on a note and why. If you wouldn’t draw them into a meeting or phone conversation on the topic, you may want to think twice. Even better, establish norms of who will be copied on project emails.
  4. Hastily Written – “Karin, how could you recommend this guy for a senior role? I know you say he’s good, but let me forward the email he sent along with his resume.” I was shocked at the grammatical problems: “there” instead of “their” “to” instead of “too.” This guy’s a great leader and knows grammar, but he was moving too fast. His excited response cost him the job, and embarrassed me for recommending him.
  5. False Summaries – We received the summary of the meeting in an email, but important detail had been left out. Was the oversight deliberate or simply sloppy? When summarizing meeting notes and next steps, always end with an invitation to add or clarify. I usually start with, “here’s what I captured, what would you add?”

See also: How to Dramatically Improve Your Team’s Communication

3 Secrets To Sharing Secrets

Don’t keep secrets. Keeping secrets creates short-term advantages and long-term costs. You gain the edge, but lose the relationship. The world could use less secrets and more sharing. I wish you would share more.

Annoying Secret #1: Bad News

I was happy when he brought me bad news. His eyes matched his words,”I’m really worried.” I exhaled a huge sigh of relief. I was worried too, but this guy worries with data. He had patterns, insights, and possible scenarios. He could have waited, or tried a thing or two first. He wants to look good. But he knows I want to know what he knows. The sooner I know the real deal, the faster we can solve it.

You want your boss to know you’ve got it covered. But your boss wants to help. Share your concern out of respect not need. Bring potential solutions. Share your internal debate. Keep the lead, but give others a chance to collaborate on solutions.

Annoying Secret #2: Best Practices

It was the day before the big review with the senior team. We each had a turn to share our talk tracks. The leader ahead in an important key metric mentioned 3 or 4 best practices for the first time. We’d ALL been struggling toward this same goal, and he had answers.

Keeping best practices secret destroys trust. Secret keepers lose respect. No one wants to promote the secret keeper. Share your knowledge. Offer help. Open your heart and hands to the greater good.

Annoying Secret #3: How You Really Feel

“We’ve all been talking about it; you’re acting different.” His words were a kick in my gut. I knew it was true. The pressure was mounting and I was trying to protect the team. Instead of serving as shield, my stress emerged as unexplained intensity. We talked. We explored feelings and reasons on both sides. It helped. We carved a path forward.

Keeping your feelings secret dehumanizes the relationship. Keeping how you really feel a secret to protect your team may even make you feel like a martyr. Don’t whine, but share feelings with intention. Know the reason for your sharing. Start slowly. Check in. Initiate a balanced discussion (what feels good? what feels bad?) Be open to what you hear on the other end.

50 Shades Of Boring: When Leaders Are Bores

It all looks so sexy. Corporate jets. Dramatic moves. Microphones. When it’s a Cinderella story, it’s even better. It’s easy to romanticize leadership success. To imagine the stroke of genius, the well-timed leap of faith, sitting with the right guy on the plane. No one wants to hear the boring parts, but they’re there. Always.

“The real story is actually probably pretty boring, right? I mean, we just sat at our computers for six years and coded.”
~ Mark Zuckerberg

Sleepless nights figuring it out. Triple checking the deck for the big presentation. Revising the speech 18 times, and practicing 20. Slogging through. The great idea that nobody gets. And the next one and the next.

People reveal their boring once they’ve “made it.’ Then boring becomes an intriguing part of the story. Before that, it’s just, well, boring. Right now, your bosses boss is likely doing something way less cool than you imagine. It’s tedious, but it works. So she invests the time, day after day.

The gymnastics coach has watched her vault 400 times. It’s a yawner, but she’s got potential, so he critiques every move. Tomorrow’s Mark Zuckerberg is revising the code, again. And here you are ___________.

What if you got better at boring?

Practice more. Rehearse that speech 4 more times. Triple check the spreadsheet. Invest in the differentiating monotonous tasks. Correlate the data. Start over. Keep trying.

Expert Career Advice From HR Leaders: Carnival Of HR

Every few weeks, HR professionals around the world gather to share their ideas and insights in the HR carnival. It’s LGLs turn to host, so I asked for advice on “Growing Your Career.” After all, if you had a dozen HR folks in a virtual room, what would you ask ? And so I offer you, expert advice on growing your career. Please add yours through the comments.

Becoming a Better Leader

I loved this post by Dan McCarthy about “going under” your managers heads. A fantastic warning for managers of managers about how easy it is to undermine authority, even when your intentions are good. The Perils of Going Under your Manager’s Head

John Hunter provides great advice on Building Your Circle Of Influence. There is a temporal component to your circle of influence. Building that influence is possible by proving the value you can provide. By helping others achieve success you increase the chances they will pay attention to your suggestions in the future. For more posts relating to a career in management improvement see

Alli Polin shares important lessons from her personal experience in Leadership Challenge: Responsibility Without Authority What do you do when you’re given responsibility for a task but never really handed the full reigns to get it done?

Jon Mertz shares Trust Is About Giving and Receiving. In our careers, trust plays a key role. It needs to be evident in how we build and work with teams. It needs to be evident in how we act when given certain responsibilities. Trust provides a solid foundation in which we can flourish in our career paths. Don’t miss his creative video.

Prasad Oommen Kurian shares an edgy post on leadership development. It’s not just about leadership programs. Be sure your leadership development path has depth and breadth. Simplicity @ the Other Side of Complexity

Taking Charge of Your Career

Julie Winkle Giulioni shares great pragmatic advice in,  Career Development Today: Is Your Head Screwed on Straight. Formal, organizationally-orchestrated and condoned career development programs and paths are simply incapable of accommodating the number of people who want to grow on the job. But that’s no reason to sit idly by and stagnate. Change your mindset. Get your head screwed on straight. And start growing today.

Your strengths can hurt you by Robyn McLeod offers important tips on how to prevent your strengths from becoming derailers to your career. In order to grow in your career, you need an honest and consistent loop of feedback on your performance and presence at work. That feedback and your own self-awareness tells you what your strengths are and where your weaknesses show up. There are times when your strength can turn into a weakness

Matt McWilliams gives great advice for when you find yourself in a toxic environment in, “I Can’t Afford to Lose this Job.” He shares how to warm-up your network, fast.

Ben Eubanks shares How Stale Are You? Be sure you don’t go “stale” over time. Here’s how to continuously grow your skills and abilities, even if you don’t change venues. Good stuff.

Mike Henry Sr, founder of The Lead Change Group shares, Kristy Smith’s Post, Is Sharpening Your Skill Set Along the Way the Fine Print to Career Success? Leadership is never handled. There are so many great resources… to grow your career… ENGAGE. Excellent.

Andrea Hrab reminds us of 5 reasons to begin a mentoring relationship in Five Ways Mentors and Mentees Can Grow Their HR Careers Important read.

Leena Thampan provides solid resume advice in her post, 6 Creative Resume Ideas to Find You a Job. Resumes still matter, and Leena’s post can help.

Ian Welsh raises an interesting question in his post How Important is Career Integration for Happy Families?, “Is it better that career is distinct and separate, and that family living and hobbies provide the light relief – the real living?

Practical Career Skills

Need to hone your negotiation Skills? Look no further than Jennifer Miller of the People Equation. Jennifer gleans great career advice from an interesting source: reality TV’s Pawn Stars. See her tips for Six Ways to Be a Better Negotiator.

Whether you’re a recent college graduate or searching for your dream job, Frank Sonnenberg offers practical advice in, Simplify Your Job Search.  My favorite line, “dreams, unlike eggs, don’t hatch from sitting on them.”

Amit Bhagria reminds us to say sincere “thank yous” along the way, One Powerful Word Which Will Help You Grow in Your Career “I would like to kick it off by thanking “Evil HR lady“, Suzanne Lucas, the woman behind one of the most successful blogs on Human Resource Management, who is an inspiration for my blog on HR. I started following her blog in 2009 and since then have been a fan of her writings and her take on the HR world. I am also thankful to Shauna Moerke (better known as HR Minion) who runs the famous HR carnival and every month she sends reminders to us for submitting our best work for the upcoming HR carnival.

Melissa Fairman shares the importance of chosing the right solutions in, But Can You Do It Right? So true, sometimes we look for “new” or “different” when we should be focused on what’s best. Nice read.

Mick Collins shares, Going Social with Workforce Analytics. He encourages frontline leaders to make better use of workforce analytics in their hiring and staffing decisions. As a leader looking to grow your career, it’s important to understand a bit about these tools and how they’re being used. Interesting perspective.

Inclusion And Engagement: LGL On Webtalk Radio

To access the podcast, click on the title above or go to: Web Talk Radio. Delighted to chat with Al Gonzalez on “Leading Beyond The Status Quo”. We explore the intersection of inclusion and employee engagement. Fun to share stories.


Did you know that 71% of all workers in the US are disengaged? While many diversity efforts are providing visual evidence of success, the number of disengaged employees in the workplace remains at a very high level. Why is this Because we have a lot of work to do in the area of inclusion.

This week we are joined by Karin Hurt, an expert in the area of employee engagement and author of the award winning blog Let’s Grow Leaders. Join us as we continue our exploration of Inclusion by exploring its critical relationship and relevance to Employee Engagement.

The Insiders Guide To The Dark Side

You’ve had those moments. So have I. You desperately want a leadership do-over, but it’s too late. It’s out there – your dark side in all it’s glory.

“Powerful you have become. The dark side I sense in you.”
~ Yoda

You hear yourself apologizing: “I just wasn’t myself.” Don’t be too sure. “I never act like that.” Yes, you just did. Your evil twin’s an excellent teacher.

Listen well to what your dark side has to say.

 A Lesson From My Dark Side

I like to think of myself as a caring leader, yoga woman, introspective, positive, working to develop others. So why was I screaming at this manager from another department? I’d completely lost it. That wasn’t really me. Or was it?

It was MY values that triggered the response. It was MY exhaustion that wore down my filters. Was the manager arrogant and closed minded? Oh yeah. Was I right in defending against the racial prejudice clearly at play? Yup. But I was the one swinging the figurative punches. He stayed calm. Dark side 1. Values 0. No cause advanced by my reaction.

I’ll never forget the incident that plunged me into a deeper understanding of my values and how I respond. Sure I regret my stupidity, but my fight against “bad leadership” now shines a bit clearer.

4 Lessons From Your Dark Side

Your dark side comes bearing gifts. Lean into your stupidity to understand your pain.

  1. Conflicting Internal Goals – When your dark side shocks you, look for signs of internal conflict. Distressed hearts yearn for deeper focus. Consider your competing priorities and options.
  2. Values – When your dark side takes wheel, check for squashed values in the rear view mirror. Look for patterns. Ugly reactions signal what you care about most deeply. Passion is good– even better when managed productively. Values don’t translate well through tantrums and other mishaps. Take time to understand your ugliest moments, and work to reframe them for good. Apologize and talk carefully about what drove the reaction. Dive deeper into the muck to find deeper meaning and connection.
  3. Triggers – Face it, sometimes your evil twin just overreacts. Know your triggers, and see them for what they are. Learn your patterns and ways to cope. Take a break. Walk away. Use your dark side to teach you patience, compassion, and understanding.
  4. Balance – Everyone’s looks and acts a bit uglier when exhausted. You can fake it for a while, but sooner or later tired and cranky brings out the dark side. Your inner witch may just be your body’s way of telling you it’s time to rest. Listen.