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How to Go from a Boss to a Conscious Leader

Recently, I read a post from a business owner who was asking human resources professionals for advice about an employee who requested not to be contacted after work hours or on weekends, except in the event of an emergency. 

He explained that he “made it clear” to the employee that she is not required to respond to anything not urgent after hours or on weekends, but affirmed his “authority to send emails to their work email address for items that may cross his mind after hours so he doesn’t forget. He sent this employee an email over the weekend. She “politely and respectfully” reminded him of her request. “I really would like my time and space respected during off-hours.” He pushed back. She pushed back. 

“You may not like me setting boundaries but this is important to me. If you respected me and my time, you would understand that an employee should be allowed to have a reprieve.”

His perspective was: “As the boss and owner of the company, I should be the one who sets operations and not the employee… She is setting (or changing) the business guidelines and protocol, and it does not sit well with me.”

Many people advised this leader to let her walk, his way or the highway, and he was very much in agreement at the time I read and responded to his post. This advice and his source of discomfort were very much coming from ego rather than empathy. 

Here was my response: 

“Look, everyone is doing the best they can to cope in difficult times. This requires MORE self-care than ever. The only solution isn’t to send emails anyway because it works for you and she can just opt to ignore them. She obviously has notifications on to deal with emergencies, so she will get every email, and even though she may not be required to respond to non-emergencies, she still may feel compelled by a sense of duty and obligation that adds pressure (self-imposed, yes) when she needs to be disconnected. Need – as in, a physical need to manage stress for overall well being. By insisting on your way and not respecting her boundaries, you are communicating that what she needs is less important than what you want. Self-care = putting your needs over someone else’s wants. Selfish = putting your wants over someone else’s needs. What kind of leader do you want to be? Can’t you create the drafts when you think of them and send them off Monday morning? Yes. You can. If you don’t value her, let her go. If you do value her, respect her boundaries. Be the leader she needs.”

He responded, “Fair and well put.”

While he was in ego at the time of posting, he was also open to really hearing other ways to look at this problem. 

I’m not sure how he’ll handle it, but I am glad that he was open.

He said, “I want to do what is fair and just, which is why I came to this group! Thank you!!”

At that moment, this boss/manager had a choice to move into conscious leadership. He was able to do so because his intention was to be fair to his employee. He was open to guidance and new self-awareness, and if he does decide to accommodate his employee, he will have moved from ego to empathy and compassion, which is empathy in action.

As a leader, you have multiple points throughout their days, weeks, months, and years that give you the opportunity to make similar choices. 

Like forming any habit, and what I love about habits, is that once a habit is formed, doing that thing becomes a compulsion rather than a choice. You are pulled to do it, rather than having to push. However, that time in between the self-awareness of the habit that needs to develop and the time that the habit is developed, the push is a challenge for most people. 

Join me for a free online masterclass on Wednesday, September 30th at 2:00 PM EDT to find out more about how you can create more speed and ease during that in-between period so that you can become more consistently conscious as a leader.  

What would you have advised this leader to do? What would you do?


If you’re dedicated to making a meaningful impact in the world through your work, I invite you to join my LinkedIn group for conscious leaders. Join C3 now to be a part of future free events, watch replay recordings of our past events, interact with the conscious community, speakers, and experts, and have your chance to share your expertise by becoming a future guest panelist for upcoming events. Remember that without you, meaningful change is not possible.

Dashboard Confessional – Bend And Not Break (Lyrics)

Lovely band, lovely song, lovely album Album: “A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar” – 2003 Lyrics: I catalog these steps now Decisive and intentioned precise …

Karen Huller is the creator of the Corporate Consciousness Ripple Blueprint and author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days. She founded Epic Careering, a leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, in 2006. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. Her solutions incorporate breakthroughs in neuroscience, human performance optimization, bioenergetics, and psychology to help leaders accelerate rapport, expand influence, and elevate engagement and productivity while also looking out for the sustainability of the business and the planet.

Mrs. Huller was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) where some of her students won the 2018 national YEA competition, were named Ernst & Young’s America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

She is board secretary for the Upper Merion Community Center and just finished serving as Vice President of the Gulph Elementary PTC, for which she received recognition as a Public Education Partner and Promoter from the Upper Merion Area Education Association. She lives in King of Prussia with her husband, two daughters, and many pets, furry, feathered, and scaly.

When Communication Drives You Crazy

Help Point by Mark Hillary from Flickr

Help Point by Mark Hillary from Flickr

My brother-in-law in Kentucky sent an email out last week to his immediate and some extended family regarding referred methods of keeping in touch.


It spurred some very interesting responses and some very intriguing conversation between my husband and I.


I know I have my own “rules” about how I think its best for people to contact me. I try my best to explain them to others so that they can accommodate me, and I ask them how they prefer to be contacted. However, there are sometimes people that just seem to refuse to indulge my preferences, and furthermore, those that insist that their preferred form of communication is better than my preferred form of communication, which can be so frustrating.


I really want your opinion on this scenario:


As a result of my outreach and posting on LinkedIn groups, I get a lot of invitations from people I do not know, which to me is evidence that my content is engaging and that my profile is inviting. However, I explain to them that before we connect, I would like to get better acquainted and give them my CELL PHONE number to give me a call so that we can schedule something. For me, extending my personal cell phone number (which is my only number) is a way of telling them that connecting with them is important to me, because it is a number I do not make public and because it is the device that I respond to with the most urgency (however I do not answer it when I am with clients, unless it is my husband or babysitter.) Most people, I am finding, choose instead to give me their number or their availability in response via LinkedIn messages. The problem with this is that now their response has lost urgency, as has the scheduling of their meeting, because I get the notification via e-mail, which is a non-urgent form of communication. Furthermore, in order to resist any “time sucking” effects that social media can have, I regiment my time, setting designated times to post group messages, respond to network status updates, and reply to messages and invitations. I perform research for clients or business development on an as needed basis. I am a reasonable person who is happy most of the time to extend some flexibility, so I had made some exceptions, logging in to LinkedIn at undesignated times to respond to these individuals and schedule a time to talk. Unfortunately, I AM NOT STRONG ENOUGH to resist the distractions that abound on these social media sites (I try to do the same for Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+.) I know I am not the only one with limited time to spend on social media; however, if you could see how my blocks of time depend windows carefully planned and vigilantly protected around my kids’ schedules (as most know, I work from home and take care of them – both full-time jobs.) You can probably see how problematic it is to waste ANY time.  If I waste any time, something else has to suffer, and I cannot let it be my clients. So, it may be inflexible, but I went back to regimenting my time and decided to make repeated requests of these individuals to move our scheduling conversations OFF social media to the phone, or e-mail if need be. One individual recently never acknowledged, let alone obliged, my request, so I thought I would explain my regimenting. Still, he insisted on giving me his availability via LinkedIn message. That particular day, even if I had chosen to make an exception, I was out of the office all day for personal business (it was my mom’s birthday.) So, his message went unanswered (as I had explained that it might unless we could schedule via phone or e-mail.) He sent me a message that read as follows:


“Karen, I am withdrawing my invite this has gone on since Aug 27. I respect your time but you must respect mine.”


Who is disrespecting whom here? I wanted to make connecting a priority, which is why I gave him my direct number and urged him to call me.


I know I will hear from some LinkedIn and social media evangelists who think that LinkedIn invitations and messages should be a priority, but let’s get real: EVERYTHING can’t be a priority. If you want to be a priority, use my phone number. If I gave it to you, it means you are a priority. If you tell me that you are best at responding via e-mail and that happens to be an appropriate venue for our exchange, I’ll be happy to accommodate you.


So, what is appropriate? Does each person decide for himself or herself? I know I have my own ideas, but a lot of them were inspired by efficiency experts who I have studied, read and followed on behalf of my clients who also have to make the most of their time while accommodating the communication preferences of their audience.


I hope this post elicits a LOT of responses, because I am hungry for feedback!


Here is a summation of communication media and what I have come to determine as the best practices of using each:


Email – a non-urgent form of communication. It is best for things that have to be documented and referred to on a future or ongoing basis, such as instructions or directions. Can also be good for communications sent outside of normal business hours. Efficiency experts warn of the time abyss of e-mail and recommend only checking this 5 times per day.


Text message– immediate/urgent, short. Best for sharing critical details, scheduling meetings, short sentiments. IT is not a good forum for debate, argument or describing complicated concepts


Phone – Personal, implies desire to connect on a “human” level, good for leaving an explanation of moderate length or when something needs to be expressed with inflection and sincerity. It is critical any time a decision has to be made that requires much consideration of both or all parties. My biggest complaint is when people ask you to call them back at a number different from the one that they called from and they say it fast. I recommend that if that is necessary, attempt to text or email the number as well, and tell the recipient that you are doing so. In the days of smart phones, when people check their voice mail from anywhere, including while driving (not condoned,) who has a pen handy to take down a number? How many would rather just click on the number to call the person back?


Social Media – Great for initiating conversations or instant messaging when others are on concurrently. For any of the above, move it off social media.


Snail Mail – If it isn’t a bill, it better be a thank you, an invitation, a greeting card, or an announcement.


Web conference/webinar – If I need to provide an introduction or more in depth instruction on a program, a service, a product, a methodology, a workflow, etc. screen sharing is an incredible asset, and being able to benefit from others’ questions and comments can be invaluable to reinforcement in learning.