Leadership credo Spring 2015

The Power of a Change of Venue

It’s tricky for all of us. I’m teaching the only leadership course these accounting students will take as part of their masters programs. The class runs from 5-10 PM after most have worked all day in their internships, and we’re crammed into a room too small for the big moving around that is critical under such conditions.

All but a handful are on visas from China. This is their final semester, and most who are not finding a job, face a fast-ticking clock that matters.

A good number name public speaking as their greatest fear, and of course it’s a leadership class, and it’s me, and it’s five hours…everybody needs to talk.

Which brings us to tonight, where each student was asked to present their leadership credo¬†(if you want to try this click here, or heck, let me come help you ūüėČ

Now, this is a Karin Hurt classic. It never fails. Until tonight, or so I thought.

The Power of a Change of Venue

It was time to present the credos–the student’s “This I believe” on leadership. Each student sat straight up in their seats. I could see glimpses,¬†so I was optimistic of effort, but nearly everyone had their credo turned face down on the desk. ¬†I invited volunteers to share their credo. I was met with crickets. Then two brave souls came forth with rock star quality presentations— followed by (you guessed it)–more crickets. The class¬†looked at me with big, longing eyes waiting for me to move on. I offered a prize for the creativity folks most admired–not helpful.

Perhaps it was the tenacity to not let this fail, or the panic I felt realizing that this exercise should fill an hour and “We can’t be done in two minutes!”–but, I regrouped.

“I can see you’ve got great stuff by the glimpses I caught as you entered the room. I also see most of you don’t feel comfortable sharing in a crowd.

Let’s go into the hallway.” 45 students formed two circles and I quickly arranged a “speed dating” kind of sharing.

The energy level went up about 10 times, and I quickly realized my previously shy students had something important to say.

One minute in, it was clear, we were disturbing the surrounding classes.

I interrupted. “That’s the spirit! But, now ironically, we’re too loud.” Would anyone object to going outside? (It was sunny but a bit chilly.)

And off we went. You would have thought I had started serving cocktails. Bystanders  were staring as they walked by to see what we were up to.

They shared and admired and celebrated their leadership teachable point of views.

As we returned inside, I shared my “teachable moment.”

“My leadership was failing. I tried to get you to follow and you refused. I had to take a step back and regroup and change the approach (and in this case the venue). If¬†no one’s following, blaming it on your followers may feel good, but it won’t work.¬†If you’re really blowing it, step back and try again.”

And then the magic happened. The class selected one of their quietest members as their “winner” for creativity and content. And then, classmates who had never participated started sharing their credos. The rest of the evening went a whole lot quicker. Ahhh the remarkable power of #confidenthumility.

Posted in Authenticity & Transparency, Career & Learning, Communication, confident humility and tagged , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, Founder of Let’s Grow Leaders, helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was recently named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers and American Management Association's 50 Leaders to Watch. She’s the author of 3 books: Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul, Overcoming an Imperfect Boss, and Glowstone Peak.


  1. Changing the venue is all about changing the energy.

    You can also be in the same venue and change the energy. For example, when I’m speaking with a client on the phone, and I feel they’re stuck or low in energy, I’ll invite them to stand up and walk with me, virtually, while we continue the coaching conversation.

    Most of the time the energy changes and the client is able to move forward, simply by strolling.

    Have a great weekend Karin.

    • Steve, YES! That’s exactly what it is. The change in energy in this scene was palpable. I like the strolling idea very much. Thank goodness for cell phones ūüėČ It’s wonderfully sunny here. Looking forward to a great weekend. Hope yours goes well too. Namaste.

  2. Excellent Karin! It is a wise instructor who realizes that not everyone’s style is the same and some people prefer smaller interactions to share their thoughts. You sound like a very intuitive teacher with these MBA Student!

    I experience this often in my training workshops and like you I try to quickly reposition the room, the set up, the group work to make it more comfortable for people who may be more introverted.

    Thanks for sharing this great story!

    • Thanks so much Terri. We should compare notes sometime. I’d love to hear the various ways you change it up to create the most engagement and energy.

  3. Hi Karin,

    I really enjoy your posts. They are informative, without being pedantic. Always something to think about. I followed the link in this one to your previous post on creating a leadership credo (thought it might be a useful exercise), but the video summary is apparently no longer available. Just thought I would let you know.

    Thanks for your insight!


    • Tom, thanks so much. Let me check into the video link for you. I should be able to reload it this weekend.

  4. I am so impressed by what you are doing, Karin! You are at the place where the rubber meets the road. And I can’t think of a better coach or mentor than you to help your clients move through this difficulty.

    Isn’t it exciting what a change of venue can produce!

    I’ve been through several myself, and each time I was 1) scared by the unknown, 2) forced to dig deep to find my true strengths, and 3) challenged to come up with viable alternatives. I willl not say these were comfortable times, but they were productitve ones!

    Got for it! BUT, having the right supervisor who encourages and supports the findings of these new iterations is very important!

    • LaRae, Thanks so much. I always appreciate your supportive words. You raise an important point about being supportive of folks to try new iterations.

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