Today I reviewed 360 feedback with a client who is an emerging leader, and I was impressed with the scores he received for his level of integrity, trust, and customer focus. As we talked about the ways in which he cultivated the skills and behaviors that were necessary for developing those competencies, he didn’t mention schooling, books, or trial and error. He gave credit to a great boss.

Early in his career, he had the opportunity to work for someone who modeled great leadership behavior. My client sat in client meetings and observed his boss, listened to the way he spoke to people on the telephone, read how he phrased emails, watched how he handled difficult conversations – and, in the process, learned how to create important traits like integrity, trust, and customer focus.

The shadow of the leader is a powerful thing. When you have a great boss like my client did, you learn and grow, and the whole team benefits from those skills. If the shadow that is cast is a poor one, however, you may learn what not to do, but the behaviors emanating from the top can often negatively impact the team and the work of the organization. This post from the Forbes magazine blog tells the Parable of the Jerk Manager – a tale of one manager who treated the office cleaning crews disrespectfully and cast a shadow that eventually led to his demise.

What shadow are you casting?
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If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

To develop the competencies you need to cast a compelling shadow for your team and organization, contact Robyn at

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