CTLS: the expansive green leader

And now we’re back to the Color Thinking Leadership Series…but before we start, I invite you to imagine a beautiful green valley, or a rolling green lawn, or a shady tree….you pick. I just ask that you pick something that feels vast, because we are going to be checking out what it feels like to have space and options galore!

When we talk about leadership, we often think that we are working with facts to narrow down our options so that we can make the one and only right decision. If you’ve been following me for any time at all, you know that I call that black or white thinking, which is not our most evolved kind of thinking, to say the least. It is our most limiting type of thinking! So let’s tap into the expanse of the light filled attributes of green before we get into the shadow side.

The aligned leader attributes (light): You live in and love the big picture. You love lots of options and choices – you create options and choices for your team and you actually let them make their own choices. You are especially good at finding or creating loving and supportive options. You make space for people. Your team feels that they have plenty of room to spread their wings, lots of space to grow and try things out – and they come back to you because they feel appreciated and because they appreciate you.

You create a very balanced environment. You resolve conflicts fairly. You are not jealous or threatened by the success of others, because you know that there is room for everyone.

The aligned leader loves having a lot of options to choose from, but has no difficulty making balanced decisions. You can also shift directions quickly when needed, because you create enough room to move around.

The shadow leader attributes: As expected, the shadow attributes are the antithesis. You feel trapped, constrained, out of balance. You show up as jealous, competitive, petty and small-minded. You couldn’t see the big picture if it bit you in the butt. You perceive conflict everywhere, in fact, you create it. You can’t find the truth or the answers because you are so embroiled in the conflict or envious of other’s achievements. You think everyone else has options, but you don’t – which is why you are jealous: you don’t believe that you have any good options. And because you don’t see any good options, you are indecisive, maybe even incapable of making decisions. Let’s just say, you’re not able to be very strategic!

Your team behaves the same way – they don’t bring you options because they can’t really see them, and because they know that you have difficulty with decisions. They haven’t really been able to grow for a while, too, so they really feel trapped.  They don’t see the big picture either, because you aren’t able to share it with them. They think you don’t trust them, even though that’s not really what’s going on.

What the shadow feels like to you is you are out of balance and you are trapped. It’s so unfair that everyone else has options and you don’t. You don’t really like yourself or those other people with all the options. You have a few miserable thoughts that cycle through your brain on a loop. You agonize over every decision. You narrow things down to as few choices as possible so that the right answer will emerge, but it doesn’t. It always feels like you are choosing the lesser of two evils, so you’re in constant microdrama about your choices. You’re mentally and emotionally pretty close to burn out.

As always, you might feel some of the light and some of the shadow attributes. It’s quite possible that once upon a time you were more open and expansive and able to see a lot of options, but you think that time and circumstances (reality?) has just worn you down. Or you might feel lots of options in one area of your life, but not another. Or you might see all kinds of options, but you’re convinced they aren’t viable for you. These are just some of the possible blends.

Color Thinking questions can help open our mind to possibilities, change our perspective.  You can take this list and play. Create more questions. Brainstorm. Create variations. More questions = more possibilities = more options.  I also invite you to check out different ways of making decisions.

  • What’s going on in the big picture? How can I see it more clearly, more frequently?
  • What do I believe I can’t have? What if I can?
  • How can I create more options and more balance for me and my team?
  • How am I using my jealousy, envy and feeling trapped to keep playing small or to hide? What am I really afraid of?
  • What if all the constraints just fell away? What would be possible

Here are your green thinking hacks: Spend some time looking at vast, expansive green things. When you need to come up with options, go to a park with a big lawn and come up with an option for every shade of green that you see.

Change your screen saver to something with a big vista. Spend some time looking at the night sky and noticing all the stars.

Create a mantra that can quickly remind you of make the changes that you want to make, and the behaviors you want to exhibit.

But you know what’s most important? Love. Be generous and expansive. Plant ideas. Take ownership of creating space for you and others to grow. That’s what leaders do.

In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!

Love and light,



If you’re interested in using Color Thinking for your own leadership development program, let’s talk. I invite you to schedule a call if you’d like to chat about it.  Or email me: maggie@maggiehuffman.com

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