5 stages of manager soul loss

5 Stages of Manager Soul Loss #WinningWell

Do you feel like you’re losing your soul at work? What is manager soul loss?

As we’ve travelled around the world sharing our Winning Well message– that yes, it is possible to get results that last without losing your soul– along with the tools to help, so many managers have shared, “well, I don’t think I’ve quite lost my soul– but it sure feels like I’m headed in that direction.” Or “yikes, it’s a slippery slope.” And so we’ve worked to capture the themes we’ve been hearing along the way in this downloadable infographic. We encourage you to use this as a conversation starter about 5 stages of manager soul loss with yourself or with your team.

You can download and share the PDF of this infographic here.

5 Stages of Manager Soul Loss


Posted in Winning Well and tagged , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells - building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Great infographic! And spot on…I’ve experienced these stages myself and yes, it is like losing your soul 🙁 Awareness is key and you’ve outlined the stages in clear and concise ways. Will share with others!

  2. This infographic is spot on. I’ve been through all of these phases at two separate jobs now, multiple times. They do seem to always go in this order.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your perspective. I’m sorry to hear you’ve had this experience– and I do hope you find some of our tools and techniques helpful.

  4. I’m definitely feeling it as a Toastmasters Area Director at month 10 of 12. Perhaps having a definitive end is keeping me from working harder to fight my “soul loss.” That’s definitely how I view my marriage: Till death so I better keep the soul alive.

    I’n writing my second round club visit reports and they are pure drudgery. Perhaps because I feel like no one will read them? I accidentally double pasted into two very different fields last time; didn’t know where the character limit was so some thoughtful comments were cut off. I work hard on carefully writing suggestions for improvement and providing resources.

    But the first round was hard, too. I’m not sure my suggestions to “management” will be welcomed, even with evidence to the contrary in many situations.

    I think if I breeze through the form that hasn’t changed in years, I can write in the format that I know will work best and send it directly to the people who need to hear it.

    I’m still counting the days, though. I enjoy working with the clubs and can continue to do so on my own. But any district obligations feel punishing at the moment.

    Any suggestions from you and David?

    • I’m sure David will weigh in too (since I know he has done more work with Toastmasters), but my immediate thoughts are two-fold– really thinking about why you were so committed to the work in the first place, and reconnecting what you are doing to THAT WHY. And also to focus on the connection with the individual human beings and what they need and the difference you can make in their lives. In times of my career where bureaucracy and political frustration was at its peak, or if I was dealing with difficult people– I always focused back on real connection and what impact I could have there. Thank you for sharing your very real struggles and for all you do to help grow leaders.

    • Gretchen, I think every leader can identify with your feelings. At times the overwhelm of things that have to be done can feel oppressive, like drudgery, and you wonder if it will mean anything. I completely agree with Karin in that the first step is to reconnect with your big WHY. When it comes to TM, my big why is that Toastmasters changes lives. It’s not just a report for the sake of the report. How is the feedback you’re sharing going to save that new member’s life by helping them find their voice? Their confidence? Their influence? All of which makes the world a better place to be‬. Now, as for whether what you share will be received or acted upon: the leadership opportunity here is to help the leaders connect the advice to the why. Some leaders enjoy maintaining the status quo. It’s comfortable and enjoyable for them. For these folks, reminding them of and inviting them to something bigger (eg the impact on real lives that you’ve seen over and over, the opportunity they have to totally transform someone’s life, and a compelling vision of what they’re capable of that they may not have seen for themselves). What is the one action they could take that would have the most transformative effect? If you’ve built the relationship, start with that conversation and invest your positive energy in those who respond. Not everyone will, but you’ll make a big difference for those who do.

  5. This is fascinating (and hard!). I’d love to share this with my colleagues but it looks like the link to download the PDF no longer works. Is it possible there is another way to access it?

  6. Thank you so much for the updated link! I’m planning to bring it to a meeting and ask us all to reflect on which (if any) stage we identify with and which (if any) stage we think fits our agency as a whole and then use that to launch a re-claiming your soul conversation and action planning session. I think it will be a tough area of discussion but one that my hope is that it might make people feel more seen and connected rather than experiencing their struggles in isolation.

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