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Leadership: Working in the Twilight Zone

There’s a quote by Monica Baldwin that goes something like “The moment when you first wake up in the morning is the most wonderful of the twenty-four hours. No matter how weary or dreary you may feel, you possess the certainty that, during the day that lies before you, absolutely anything may happen. And the fact that it practically always doesn’t, matters not a jot. The possibility is always there.“ My clients, and me, by virtue of my days becoming theirs, live in a world where it practically always does happen. No two days are alike even if it’s planned that way.

There’s a quote by Monica Baldwin that goes something like “The moment when you first wake up in the morning is the most wonderful of the twenty-four hours. No matter how weary or dreary you may feel, you possess the certainty that, during the day that lies before you, absolutely anything may happen. And the fact that it practically always doesn’t, matters not a jot. The possibility is always there.“

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My clients, and me, by virtue of my days becoming theirs, live in a world where it practically always does happen. No two days are alike even if it’s planned that way.

To lay out a bit of context for you, here is a global organization that is in the midst of major structural changes. The top three in positions of leadership are new, my client is fairly new, and on top of it they are doing a structural change that affects all of management, all departments as their structure and mandates will change as well. No two days are alike as they are still finding their way. The first thing I asked them was to define the differences between defining their roles and designing them. I wanted to them to take control over whatever it was they could control and if that was working together to define roles and responsibilities, reporting structure, deliverables and to a great extent, even where their offices were located, at least they would feel as if there was some order to the chaos.

Well today defied all the norms and I decided that if I was to break the acute tension that was so tangible you could reach out and touch it, I would have to ask or do something outlandish. So I asked the client I was Shadow Coaching what her day reminded her of. She paused for a moment and answered “I can’t say because I have never experienced anything like it! I’m in the Twilight Zone!”

Talk about being given a gift. We looked at the concept of that old favorite show and how it did indeed define their world today. It really was perfect. As we ran from meeting to meeting, watching others stressed to the nines, I engaged my client to partner with me and have a dialogue about working in the Twilight Zone and how even best laid intentions turned out completely different because the world wasn’t in our control. It brought a hint of humor to the entire building which immediate lessened the stress that was tangible the moment you walked through the doors.

It’s true that humor conquers all. The entire management team went from survival mode to what I call ‘thrival’ mode. When I left this afternoon they were pumped, smiling and even though mentally exhausted by the sheer volume of work they know they’ll have to do in order to make this a success, at the back of their minds they have this vision of working in the Twilight Zone that they will remember with a smile for the rest of their lives.

We changed an environment that wasn’t sustainable and put a new twist to it so it just might work. What are you dealing with that you might want to turn around and bring a whole new perspective to? A question that I often ask clients and will leave you with is “What if the next thing you did or said could transform the organization? What would that be? And what would that look like?”

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Donna Karlin • Executive and Political Shadow Coach™ • Ottawa, Canada • •www.abetterperspective.com

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About the author

Donna Karlin CEC, Diplomate IABMCP and founder and principal of A Better Perspective® & The School of Shadow Coaching, has pioneered the specialized practice of Shadow Coaching® with global political, government, business and senior organizational leaders in the public and private sectors. Donna capitalizes on almost 30 years of experience in coaching, consulting and training to help clients and their organizations evolve into their level of excellence

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