Copyright © Dr. Stephen H. Dawson, DSL 2021

April 29, 2021

Lighting the Darkness

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., PhD

Standing in the spotlight can be a scary experience. The focus is on the person or persons in the spotlight, while many others view using some form of judgment. Many people in the world today are prepared to attack anyone in any spotlight. It is becoming more and more popular to be nameless and faceless while seeking fame. This combination results from group thinking, not individual thinking, leading to group identity serving as individual identity. This combination is not only silly, but it is also impossible.

Leadership is achieved by people who lead. Group leadership is a flawed concept resulting in a toxic leadership style. It is flawed because the leader-follower relationship involves specific people following a specific person serving as their leader. Team leadership is a viable means to build an organization, either small or large. The definition of team leadership is not the same as the definition of group leadership. Furthermore, both the team and group leadership constructs eradicate the power of signing paychecks. The power is lost because people work for a mysterious team or group definition, not a boss in whatever form a boss exists in the organization structure even though wages are paid every pay cycle. Neither the team nor the group leadership condition forms the employer-employee relationship. Leadership is only successful when a productive leader-follower relationship is present.

We have been working on resolving the impediments suffering the accomplishment of your strategic planning. We concluded you have a people problem, not a worker skills or workspace problem. We have covered many topics preparing for the action item necessary to resolve your most significant impediment: your need to get different people assigned to the work. We talked about the definitions of love. We considered a concept for how to harness the energy supplied to you by love so you can combine the topics we have discussed to help you form a plan to evaluate the candidates you have as you consider offering them a role in your organization where they will help complete your strategic planning work. We acted last week to capture your action items for how you will deliver love to your followers in a table called the Love Action Items list. Today, we will review your work from last week and further prepare it to be understood by those who will report to you in the operation of your organization's future structure.


Your Love Action Items list requires the support of your boss to be enacted successfully. You require their support and approval for the following reasons. First, you report to them. They must know what you are doing to run your organization. Second, if you hold a similar worldview as the rest of the world that values reason, then you would do well to honor your boss by coming to them for their input, support, and approval of your efforts to run your organization. Third, their role can help provide you access to more resources to develop further your Love Action Items list than the resources you had access to when you built the list you hold in your hand now. Finally, they may shut down your entire effort to run your organization by way of your Love Action Items list.

It is probable your boss will ask how each HOW item matches the organization's objectives to accomplish the organization's goals in pursuit of its mission statement. Have a direct match connecting each HOW item to your organization's objectives presentable in a flow diagram. The diagram can be as simple as boxes with connecting lines and arrowheads showing flow directions. A picture states a thousand words, so use your flow diagrams to your benefit.

It is doubtful your boss will be willing to step through the detail of the materials we have covered up to this point. You will need to summarize in writing the materials we have covered for them to understand better what you are bringing to them. They will most likely need to take some time to step through your materials summary and your Love Action Items list. The best-case scenario is they meet with you a few times to cover your materials summary and your Love Action Items list.

Talking with your boss


Take your Love Action Items list and run it by some people who are not in your organization. Take it to people who will not share the Love Action Items list with anyone in your organization at this point. This anonymity empowers both you and them to be as transparent as possible in your discussions with them. I am not saying they must agree 100% with everything you have contained in your Love Action Items list. I am saying listen to their reasoning and modify your Love Action Items list by further development as appropriate.

If your Love Action Items list does not contain wording sufficient to satisfy all cognitive levels present in your organization, then you must wordsmith your Love Action Items list to the point all members of your organization can understand clearly the message of each HOW item, understand how each HOW item matches a specific love definition, and why they will benefit by doing the items on your Love Action Items list. The items are your words stating your leadership plan. This Love Action Items list is work you must accomplish without outside writing assistance. It is understood you will use outside editorial assistance to refine your Love Action Items list after you have written it as a draft.

Talking with your friends

You testing your Love Action Items list also involves discussing your list with your organization's general counsel and then with your organization's human resources after you complete discussions with your general counsel. This strategy assurances all codified requirements match the construct of your Love Action Items list by those who are qualified to make this interpretation. Then, your time with human resources assures their support both to you and to any follower of your leadership who feels they are not being treated fairly by the HOW items in your Love Action Items list.

My strategic partner David Daniels shared with me his input on dealing with the people problems at this point in the process. "Every organization has an IN group and an OUT group. NO company avoids this dynamic. A leader's desire to obtain honest and diverse input, while well intended, can easily get side tracked by the IN group, those that are perceived to be in control. Often, when this attitude prevails, many employees feel isolated and not included. The result: you get the prevailing wisdom from those who already maintain the dominant position in your organization. This critical part in the strategic process gets derailed and the CEO loses the ability to surface great ideas that could move the company forward." David went on to say, "Engaging the GC & HR lead is important, but they may be part of the IN group and will resist giving up their power and influence. The CEO needs an extremely competent Chief Diversity Officer who reports directly to the CEO. This person can identify the IN group to guide them to a much better place demonstrating how to include all relevant voices. Please remember, Diversity is far more than race, gender, sexual preference, etc."

David and I agree on the central point of your role in your organization. You run your organization. You are seeking the input of the general counsel and human resources. You, after gaining their input, then must make the decision to run your organization.


You are now ready to take your Love Action Items list and write the job announcements for each role replacement you need to be filled to help accomplish your strategic planning work. Your efforts to this point will connect all of the materials we have covered with the focus of using love to energize the light to shine on these job announcements. Plan to post the job announcements in as many ways possible that are suitable for your organization's privacy requirements.

Announcing your job openings

It is then time to accomplish communications with your organization's members of the changes you have decided to make. The communications must include you teaching your people the four definitions of love. It is best you do not accomplish these communications before posting the job announcements. You are the leader of the organization. You are acting appropriately to resolve some people problems in your organization that impair the accomplishment of your organization's strategic planning. There is nothing about your people replacement decision needing the approval of your followers at this point.

The best-case scenario is anyone who does not want to follow your leadership by way of your Love Action Items list will complain about you as a person, not your leadership. This complaint is a misdirection effort to hide the fact they do not want to act in accordance with the items you have listed in your Love Action Items list. The good news here is you are now able to see clearly who no longer wants to follow your leadership, you see perhaps a bit more of why your strategic planning work is not progressing as you prefer, and you have the opportunity to discuss with the complainers why your Love Action Items list is written as it is for you to lead your organization.

If this discussion, not discussions, is not successful for the complainer to understand fully the future of the organization you lead, then the complaining follower will need to leave your organization. Your single discussion, combined with the well-written contents of your Love Action Items list and associated communication materials, serves as more than enough for any adult worker to understand how your organization will now operate. The time you spent with your boss, your general counsel, and human resources sharing the material we have covered and your work to develop your Love Action Items list will pay off for you immensely. You may be a bit rattled by either the person or persons who complain, but there is no place for either you or them to stand on the same ground anymore. You made the decision for how you both need and want to run your organization. It is now time for you to fulfill your leadership decision.

This review effort may take some time to accomplish. Do not be discouraged at the time and effort necessary to accomplish the review effort. We have other actions we need to accomplish before you start interviewing applicants, so we will be working in parallel with your review effort to achieve these actions as you wait for your reviewers to step through your materials summary, your Love Action Items list, and meet with you.

So, I ask you: where do you want to go? I hope your answer is to develop the plans necessary to accomplish the strategy you know you need to achieve to arrive at your desired destination. If this is the case, then let's get to work. If not, then I wish you the best of everything.

I hope we will see each other here next week. Email me if you need to talk before then.

Dr. Stephen H. Dawson, DSL
Executive Strategy Consultant

Stephen Dawson is an executive consultant of technology and business strategy, serving significant international organizations by providing leadership consulting, strategic planning, and executive communications. He has more than thirty years of service and consulting experience in delivering successful international business development and program management outcomes in the US and SE Asia. His weekly column, "Where Do You Want To Go?," appears on Thursdays.

Dr. Dawson has served in the technology, banking, and hospitality industries. He is a noted strategic planning visionary. His pursuit of music has been matched with his efforts to lead by service to followers. He holds the clear understanding a leader without followers is a person taking a long walk alone.

Stephen has lived his life in the eastern United States, visiting most of the United States and several countries. He is a graduate of the Regent University School of Business & Leadership. Contact him at