Finding Luminosity in Those You Lead


In the fine arts, the word “value” has to do with the degree of lightness or darkness, the “luminosity” in a color. This is true for human beings too; we all emit a certain degree of luminosity to others – a value that can be interpreted in a positive or negative way.

We can notice the value in others if we stay alert. We’ve all known someone who emits a great deal of light; they are luminous. We are attracted to them.  That’s the easy part.

Making the effort to notice value in those we have rejected, whom we don’t see eye to eye with, is important too.

As leaders, there is also some real worth in seeing beyond our negative judgment of others for the greater good of our organizations and communities. Instead of outright rejection of an individual, we may find value there.

Mom was wrong

My mother would say, “first impressions are lasting impressions” – meaning that a first impression of someone can’t be changed (and an implied caution that I better be careful to make a good first impression on others!). Sorry mom – you were wrong.

It is possible to change your first (or second) impression if you are willing. We all judge some people harshly.  If we are intentional, we can learn to give up those negative first impressions to discover what is valuable.

These negative judgments are particularly harmful when they apply to the people we lead:

that colleague down the hall who is always whining about something;

the employee who just “doesn’t get it”;

the person whom we just can’t see eye to eye with philosophically.

In all of these cases, even if we don’t realize it, we are snuffing out a person’s luminosity and devaluing them to the detriment of our organization.

Seeing beyond the negative

Stop and think about those negative impressions. Are they true, or just an opinion – something that you see through your own lens? Have a dialog with the person, listen, and ask, “What can I value here?”.

What new beliefs are you willing to be open to?

You might be surprised if you are open. And you might find some lightness shining through.


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Mary Jo Asmus is the founder and President of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC, an executive coach, writer, internationally recognized thought leader, and a consultant who partners with organizations of all kinds to develop and administer coaching programs. She has “walked in your shoes” as a former leader in a Fortune company.

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