CTLS: Turquoise

Back to the Color Thinking Leadership Series. This week, we’re going to be dealing with one of my favorite colors – turquoise. It’s an especially appropriate time to plant seeds of turquoise leadership thinking, because we are approaching the New Year.

Many of us have rituals of decision and direction for the coming year, things like setting goals, making resolutions, picking a word or theme, and even embarking on new adventures. I want to give you some of the ideas around turquoise so that you can factor them into whatever ritual and decisions you are going to make.

One thing I see many new leaders do is find a leadership hero and put them on a pedestal, and try to emulate them. The hero doesn’t have to be a person – it can be a school of thought, a leadership style, or a methodology. But yes, it can be a person. That sounds okay, right? What’s the problem?

The problem is that it doesn’t really make you the kind of leader that you are meant to be. It makes you a more-sophisticated-than-average follower.

There is nothing wrong with having heroes and role models – far from it.

But alchemy, not imitation, is the way you find your own leadership style. You will always be the best leader when you come into your own, and that is what turquoise is all about.

The aligned leader attributes (light): You have your own style, and you own it. You bring in whatever resources or inspiration you need, but you also know what NOT to include.

You thrive in creativity and bring an attitude of playfulness that makes difficult things accessible for your team.

Your super power is finding the sweet spot that blends seeming contradictions into balance. For example, you can find the balance between the head and the heart.

You are especially adept at communication. You can communicate with individuals and groups. You have no problem communicating with and about emotion.

All of this makes you the right leader to help orchestrate compromise.

The shadow leader attributes: In the shadow, you aren’t able to find balance and compromise. You dither, you waffle, you bounce hyperactively between extremes, and it’s especially confusing for your team. You run around like a chicken with it’s head cut off – what a terrible but effective image.

You are afraid to lead, so you follow, almost blindly, which makes it really uncomfortable for your team to follow your leadership. You are unsure how to best communicate – maybe even what to communicate – so you take the serious, hardline approach with little room for compromise. Rules are rules!

And your team members are really frustrated. They crave balance and stability, and you don’t give it to them. They want to experiment a bit, use their own creativity, have a sense of lightness and playfulness – and that doesn’t work with your approach.

They tend to wait until the last minute to get things done, because they’re sure that you’re going to change your mind many times and that’ll just mean that they have to do it again. In self-defense, they keep productivity low, the pace is slow and they don’t feel comfortable showing innovation.

What the shadow feels like to you is that you are constantly torn and unsure. You feel overly serious, but yet not grounded. You aren’t in touch with your creativity, so you always feel like you have to double check your work; check your decisions with others. You aren’t confident unless you get a second opinion, or a third or a fourth. In fact, you really just want YOUR leader to tell you what to do so that you can stop vacillating!

As always, you might feel some of the light and some of the shadow attributes. You want to lead, but it’s easier to follow. It’s quite possible that the culture that you are working in is giving you mixed messages, like: “Go figure it out. I expect you to lead. Find your own way of doing things.” countered by an executive who micromanages, gives overly specific instructions, corrects your method regardless of your result, or is just uncomfortable if you don’t do things their way. If that’s the case, you probably are feeling the constraints of your current situation and would thrive in a different type of culture. You may just have to create it for yourself.

Color Thinking questions can help open our mind to possibilities, change our perspective.  Here are some sample questions

  • What if I don’t have to decide either/or?
  • What if both are right? Where is the compromise? How would I handle this differently, in my own way?
  • How can I find a creative solution? What can I blend? What is my unique alchemy here?
  • How can I communicate about it more effectively?
  • What is MY truth here?
  • Where can I start making space for creativity, pockets of playfulness?

Here’s a turquoise thinking hack: picture yourself as a dolphin, swimming powerfully through sparkling blue water. You jump, spin, nudge and play, yet you still get where you want to be.

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,



Are you interested in focusing on your own leadership abilities in the next year? Do you want to be a stronger, more authentic leader? Advance your career? Are you ready to invest in yourself to prepare for the next role? I can help you become the leader you are meant to be – without working harder! Let’s talk. Email me: maggie@maggiehuffman.com

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