Things Feel Different in the Passenger’s Seat

(296 words, 3-minute read)

Individuals in leadership positions are in the driver’s seat.

When you’re the driver, you have control of the wheel … at least until autonomous vehicles become the norm. 

You not only know where we’re going, but more about each decision you’ll make along the way. You’re proactive, on offense, moving things forward.

In the passenger seats, things feel different.

We don’t have the same sense of control and comfort with our speed, direction, degree of the turns, etc. 

We can’t prepare for your sudden veer left or rapid acceleration because we don’t know they are coming.

We’re on defense, reacting to what’s happening to us.

What’s true in the car may also be true right now in your life, your community, your organization. Overall, more people in more situations find themselves in more of a defensive position than usual, managing and reacting to the changing conditions of the current challenging environment.

Despite present uncertainty, individuals in leadership positions still must go on the offensive and take action. We have to put both hands on the wheel and try to steer the organization through these difficult moments.

You’ve likely charted an initial path, anticipated adjustments to make along the way, have your hand on the gear shift, and are ready to accelerate and brake as feedback indicates.

But it won’t look or feel quite that same way to your friends, family, or colleagues if they’re only strapped into the passenger seats. They don’t want to be taken for a ride, particularly right now.

Rather than relegate them to back seat drivers whose hesitance you may interpret as resistance, elevate and engage them as co-navigators for the journey. Communicate more often and more frequently about the final destination, the paths being pursued, the milestones to measure progress, and the planned rest stops along the way.


Jeffrey Cufaude is a long-time member of the LeaderShape community, having served as an Institute Co-Lead facilitator, presenter at Co-Lead training, and contributor to curriculum for both the Institute and Catalyst. He blogs at and can be found on Twitter @jc46202.

He currently does limited consulting on learning experience design, organizational development issues, and building facilitators’ competence and confidence.

Videre Becomes Real Life

Note: This blog entry was written by guest author, Katie Selby. Katie is a Co-Lead Facilitator in Minneapolis, MN. 

At LeaderShape’s Institute program, we do an activity called Videre about chaos and change that lets us experience our own reactions to unexpected changes and the instability of systems. I couldn’t help but think of Videre these past couple weeks as the CoVID-19 pandemic brings unprecedented and confusing changes to our lives.

What routines were you skipping along to in early March? Spring semester on campus? A new study abroad experience? The familiar cadence of your work world? Maybe life felt like a circle of your friends, tossing a tennis ball, counting your production wins, and yelling “Videre!” at regular intervals.

I felt the first round of disruptions come into my game the week of March 16th. Assumptions that I thought would never be shaken changed rapidly to a new reality: universities moving to online learning, my kids home from school for the indefinite future, and no longer being able to visit my mother. As each week goes on, I’m realizing that the disruptions will continue. My city recently announced that all public pools and beaches will be closed for the summer and instantly my expectations for summer with my kids were shattered. I’m trying to stay centered knowing that what I can control are my reactions to the crisis.

When the Videre activity comes to a close, we talk about tension between what exists now and what will be in the future. We share the Margaret Wheatley quote “The things we fear most in organizations – fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances – are also the primary sources of creativity.” I think this quote brings about some important reflection questions for us in the time of CoVID-19.

  • How will you stay centered in your values as unexpected changes emerge?
  • As a leader, how can you model vulnerability and courage for others?
  • What sparks of creativity and innovation can you discover among the disarray?
  • How will your vision change or expand given this rapidly-changing reality?
  • How are you taking care of yourself in order to have energy to give to others?

We are certainly living in unprecedented times and none of us knows the new rules of engagement. In crisis, I find myself seeking solace in my foundational values and for me, LeaderShape was at the center of that values discovery. So go ahead, pull out your LeaderShape binder or visit LeaderShape on social media to reconnect with that feeling of unbounded hope and possibility. The world needs you more than ever!

Katie Selby, Co-Lead FacilitatorKatie Selby has been coaching early career professionals through career & life transitions for more than 20 years in her roles as career coach, college recruiter, and leadership educator. Katie led undergraduate career and leadership development for the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota for more than 10 years, serves as a national Co-Lead facilitator for LeaderShape since 2006. Katie holds an M.Ed. in Human Resource Development from the University of Minnesota and is founder and principal coach of QuarterLife Coach LLC.

LeaderShape in Love: Part 4

LeaderShapeInLoveFebruary always brings about thoughts of love and at LeaderShape, we’re turning to mush over some sweet love stories from folks in our community! Over the course of this month, we want to tell you about some couples who met through LeaderShape, tell you how they fell in love, and take a peek at what’s next for them. We hope you enjoy these stories and perhaps are inspired to reconnect with your own loves!

This is the last part of our LeaderShape in Love series and this week we’re telling you about Matthew Bronoske and Natalie Springer. Natalie and Matthew attended the Institute as undergrads at Miami University. While they had met before the session, they were in a family cluster together during the session and got to know each other better. They began a strong, close friendship that week and started dating a few years later. In fact, their romantic relationship was built on that strong friendship!

Matthew said that, “Active listening has been, and always will be a key part of our relationship. LeaderShape taught us that the goal of active listening is to understand the other person’s thoughts and emotions, rather than solely listening to prepare a response.  We have found that active listening is a part of our daily communication and has fortified our relationship and wellbeing with one another.”

The couple will marry later this year and become “Miami Mergers”, a term used to describe Miami University alumni that marry. About 14% of Miami alumni hold this title! The couple said they hope to teach their future children the values they learned at LeaderShape and spark ideas and visions of their own. We hope that, too!