CTLS: Gracefully Magenta

And now we’re back to the Color Thinking Leadership Series. It’s been a while, because I like to sprinkle these out occasionally – like a dusting of pepper or spice – when they seem to be called.

Today we are talking about magenta.  I’ve told you before that I often write these blogs during a Shut Up and Write group I’m a member of – and often I’m inspired. Well, today I had already chosen magenta as the topic, and I noticed that our facilitator was wearing magenta. It’s a very magenta thing to notice that detail, as you’ll see.

One of the biggest challenges leaders often face is finding the right balance when it comes to details. If you’re in the weeds to deep, you can lose perspective of the big picture. If you pay too much attention to detail, you can easily micromanage. But if you forget about the details, you’re in danger of not respecting all of the work that it takes to make something happen and setting truly unrealistic goals and tasks.

Magenta is all about finding that balance.

The aligned leader attributes (light): You appreciate all the intricacies and complexities that it takes to pull things off, but you don’t feel compelled to manage them. You have trust that if you delegate to your people, they will handle things well. You know that they either already know how to do things or they know how to figure them out! You appreciate their resourcefulness and they adore having the space to learn and stretch themselves.

You’re actually a pretty masterful delegator. You match people and assignments to that they do include stretch goals and opportunities to learn. You’re very aware of your teams current skills and their potential. You know that there are many ways to get things done- it doesn’t have to be your way or the high way…most of the time. Those are the details that you really care about.

You also know that your success is built upon the success of your team. You can focus on your work because you let them focus on their work.

The aligned leader can provide a clear picture of where you are going because you can see the plan in your head. You know the steps to take, as well as the who, what, when, where and why involved in the execution of the plan. It’s as if you’re the choreographer, and you help the dancers move gracefully about the stage.

The shadow leader attributes: In the shadow, you aren’t a choreographer and things don’t flow gracefully. You are definitely a micromanager, and as a result, your team just waits for you to tell them what to do and exactly how to do it – and no one is happy about it.

You are disappointed in your team for not taking initiative, for not rising to the occasion. You’re irritated and overwhelmed because they come to you for instructions for every little thing. If they do try to do something on their own, it’s wrong, and you have to give them detailed instructions on how to do it correctly. You have so many examples of how it just doesn’t work out unless you manage every little detail.

You’re a stickler for detail. You have a really hard time letting little things slide. Punctuation, spelling errors, little mistakes – they drive you nuts. You’re famous for building extra  steps or processes to catch mistakes that happened before.

And your team members are really frustrated. They feel like they are under constant scrutiny. They don’t feel empowered at all. They think that the safe thing to do is to just ask for very specific instructions all the time, to ask for permission. They’re afraid of making mistakes, because it just isn’t okay. They don’t feel like there is room to grow. They feel underappreciated.  There might be a lot of unintentional turnover.

What the shadow feels like to you is that you are overwhelmed, and you can’t find your way out. You can’t delegate anything, because it is so much more work to try to train someone or explain things than it is to just do it yourself. So you really are overwhelmed with all of the things on your plate.

As always, you might feel some of the light and some of the shadow attributes, especially because magenta is all about finding the balance! It’s quite possible that once upon a time someone set the (bad) leadership example by being a micromanager, or came down hard on you for making mistakes – so that’s the example you follow.

Color Thinking questions can help open our mind to possibilities, change our perspective.  This is just a starter list – add your own questions (see that example?)

  • How can I practice delegating?
  • How can I practice giving big picture direction without all the detailed instructions? How can I be more clear?
  • What could I write on a sticky note to remind me to think and speak differently when I hand off a task?
  • How can be a more graceful leader?
  • What if it is okay for some of the details to go differently than I would handle them?

Here’s a magenta thinking hacks: picture yourself as the director of an orchestra (your team). You are not playing each instrument, your team is. And listen to that beautiful music you are making together…

Most importantly, be graceful and grateful.

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. Email me: maggie@maggiehuffman.com

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