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Karin And David’s Leadership Articles

The holiday season gives you a human-centered leadership map for navigating change

Is your holiday season a time of celebration? Of bustling end-of-year stress to meet business goals? A time of nostalgia and reflecting on what you appreciate most? Of remembering the traditions, stories, and people you have come before you? A time to connect with friends and family? Or, as it is for some, perhaps a time of feeling low and lost? The holidays are all these and more—and within these varied experiences, the holidays are also a guide to navigating change.

7 Lessons from the Holidays to Help with Navigating Change

1. Harness the Power of Tradition

Lighting candles, sharing meals, giving gifts, hanging stockings, spinning dreidels, fireworks, lanterns, prayers, markets, pageants, poppers, deep cleaning, ritual bathing, putting out shoes, and prayer. These are just a few ways people use rituals and traditions during the holidays.

Tradition and ritual play a powerful role in human experience. These moments call us back to our values and what matters most. When you’re navigating change, traditions can help your team maintain their connection with one another and their values.

These don’t have to be big or expensive. My (David’s) team would celebrate the start of a new year with a small gift of a nice pen that was a symbol of what we would create together. People would cherish those pens, not for the resale value, but for what they represented.

When I (Karin) was at Verizon, I would bring my team to my home for a fancy dinner that I cooked and then sometimes we would do something fun after (like go to a show). A few times I enough leadership books for everyone, wrapped them, and then each person could pick a new one or “steal” one from someone else and they explained why that book was interesting to them. Then people swapped them around throughout the year and we chatted about them in our meetings. More than a decade later people still talk about those times at my home.

What traditions can you establish with your team to build connection and reinforce what matters most?

2. Evolve Your Traditions

As important and meaningful as traditions can be, you can also get stuck and stressed out trying to maintain a practice that no longer makes sense. (There’s no point serving a traditional holiday roast to a family of vegetarians and pescatarians.)

An important part of navigating change is periodically looking at your routine practices and asking if they still serve their purpose.

(Our Own the U.G.L.Y. questions are a great way to engage your team in this conversation and learn what you can set aside as you move into the future.)

3. Welcome Everyone’s Ideas

Holidays are special (and sometimes stressful) because everyone has different ways to celebrate. When you’re a team leader, listening to everyone’s ideas makes your team stronger. Just as holidays worldwide celebrate a tapestry of traditions, diverse perspectives, experiences, and voices make your team more resilient as you navigate change.

Embrace the varied cultural practices that enrich the season; similarly, leverage the diverse viewpoints within your organization. By fostering open dialogue and valuing different perspectives, you’re not just encouraging innovation, but you’re also actively adapting to change.

4. Tap into the Power of Stories

What’s your favorite holiday story? Is it a story of redemption and overcoming our worst nature? Generosity, love, and true wealth? The return of light after darkness? Divine intervention? Perhaps a picked-upon reindeer finding his way?

Holidays inevitably include the telling of stories because these tales pass on important lessons and history. As a leader, you can use stories to inspire your team, connect activities to purpose, reinforce values, and help your team make sense of the change they are experiencing.

5. Reflect and Look Ahead

The end-of-year holidays often prompt reflection on the past and setting intentions for the future. This reflective practice is invaluable for you as you lead your team through change.

Take time together to reflect on what has worked, learn from your experiences, and set clear goals. Engaging your team in this reflection process helps get everyone aligned—both for lessons learned and future goals.

6. Celebrate and Appreciate

Ideally, the holidays give us a moment to pause and appreciate one another, whether through shared celebration or giving gifts.

That spirit of celebration and appreciation is vital as you’re navigating change. What is going well? What milestones have you achieved? What effort can you celebrate—even if you haven’t reached the finish line?

Pausing to acknowledge what people have accomplished and the work they’ve put in will help energize your team to keep going.

When was the last time you truly stopped, looked at your team and offered them a deep, sincere, thank you for their work?

7. Cultivate Hope

Particularly in the northern hemisphere, the end-of-year holidays are about hope. Hope for peace, hope for a new year, hope for renewal, the promise that despite the current darkness, light will return.

As a leader, you are in the hope business. Hope is at the core of your work.

Leadership is the belief that if we work together, we can have a better tomorrow. Together we can do more, be more, and add more value to the world.

That’s a big deal. It might be the biggest deal of all.

And some of the time, your team will be stressed and discouraged. Your job is to help them find the hope.

Without hope, you’re done. When your team has hope, they have a chance.

Happy Holidays

Holidays are such a vital part of what it means to be human. On your journey to be a more human-centered leader who excels at navigating change, these principles of tradition, evolution, inclusion, storytelling, reflection, planning, celebration, and hope are as human as you can get. We hope you find inspiration in them for the year ahead.

Happy Holidays and all the best from the entire Let’s Grow Leaders team!

Coming This Spring (Available for Pre-Order Now)

Our new book, Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict: What to Say Next to Destress the Workday, Build Collaboration, and Calm Difficult Customers is available for pre-order now, And, we’re working on building our speaking tour for Spring 2024 (you can take a quick peek at some of our new conflict and collaboration programs here).


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Karin Hurt and David Dye

Karin Hurt and David Dye help human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results. As CEO and President of Let’s Grow Leaders, they are known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. Karin and David are the award-winning authors of five books including, Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. David Dye is a former executive and elected official. Karin and David are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

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7 Practical Ways to be a Bit More Daring

Be More Daring


Get the FREE Courageous Cultures E-Book to learn how

7 Practical Ways to be a Bit More Daring

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