This Simple Approach Will Let Your Leadership Shine Every Time

by Alli Polin on August 28, 2018

When I was first promoted to VP, I was amazed by the immediate increase in my workload. My day-to-day task list wasn’t the problem, the challenge was managing the 92,000 things that came my way each day to weigh in or solve. 

It was easy to understand why so many leaders were reactive instead of proactive. It was kind of like playing dodgeball all day, and the goal was survival. It’s not easy to let your leadership shine when you’re always in crank-it-out and get-it-done mode. 

When you’re reactive, you move based on assumptions, best guesses, and prior experience. Your goal is to swat that ball away as fast as you can. 

Even worse, when you’re fully booked and squeezing in issue after issue, you start to turn away from those areas that need you – team conflict, poor performance, and impossible workloads hoping that they’ll work themselves out. 

Of course, you probably empower people to work things out before bringing every problem to you. Not to mention, I’m sure you give people your trust. Still, your cup runneth over. I get it. 

[Tweet “Embrace your personal leadership to lead the situation towards a positive outcome.”] 

I’ve also seen leaders across the board yell and scream with frustration when provoked. This includes not only corporate leaders but also teachers, parents, administrators, customer service – you name it. (Ok, I admit, not only have I seen it, I’ve been there.)  An immediate response is to fight back instead of mindfully taking a stand for who they want to be. 

Reactionary or thoughtful. 

Angry or level-headed. 

Loving or spiteful. 

Nasty or kind. 

[Tweet “Don’t give in to a stressful moment, but instead lead yourself and others to a better place.”]

Welcome the Leadership SHINE Method

The Leadership SHINE Method is so simple and effective I’ve not only taught it to executives but also fifth graders – honestly! 

Leadership SHINE Method Tips:

  • It doesn’t have to be a long drawn out process. Can take minutes (or less!)
  • Can be done independently or collaboratively
  • Lead with your intention to SHINE, so you don’t miss the opportunity in a rush to move on to the next thing that hits your plate
  • Leave reactionary leadership behind
  • When someone is pushing your buttons it’s the perfect time for the leadership SHINE method

[Tweet “Think about your leadership legacy before you react.”] 

The Leadership SHINE Method is shockingly simple and remarkably high impact. Instead of getting back to things later, constant quick fixes, crossing your fingers or freaking out, you’ll create meaningful responses and resolutions. 

See: You’re confronted, see an issue or an opportunity. 

Halt: Stop. Don’t fall into your default response. You feel that reaction coming on… halt anyway.  

Imagine: Consider possibilities and imagine the future. What will happen if this plays out with no intervention? What’s the best case of where this could take you? The worst? What if you go with your first reaction? Will that make things better and make you shine or do you need to cool off?

Next Steps: What will you do? This is where a lot of people stop. They know what the next step needs to be and they jot it down on their to-do list for later. In other cases, they put off identifying next steps because they’re not clear and never get back to it. 

Execute: Do it! What’s that next step? Make a call. Walk away instead of yelling. Delegate. Whatever you identified as your next step, put it into action. 

Consider putting a note on your desk with the SHINE acronym. Remind yourself that you want to shine. The Leadership SHINE Method not only helps you to get things done but also tells the world about who you are. I promise you, if you put it into action, it works. 

Ask yourself: Who am I? What kind of a leader do I want to be?

[Tweet “Take a beat to let your best self lead the way forward. Let your leadership shine.”] 

What are your thoughts? How do you let your personal leadership shine?


{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Gary Gruber August 28, 2018 at 9:13 am

All about being authentic, the real deal so that WYSIWIG (What you see is what you get) is the operating principle. When you are comfortable, and confident, in being who you are, shine seems to take care of itself.


Alli Polin August 29, 2018 at 6:23 am

Authenticity is critical, I agree. When I teach this it’s often because when someone pushes their buttons, they are, well, cruel or escalate an already bad situation. Taking that beat to check in with themselves is too often something that doesn’t happen.



Terri Klass August 28, 2018 at 9:47 am

I absolutely love your simple but powerful SHINE model! Each step is so important especially being able to Halt when we just might want to lunge. A leader I am working with got so frustrated with the bureaucracy in her firm that she constantly exploded. She realized that stepping back and reflecting helped her be more impactful.

Thanks Alli and will share!


Alli Polin August 29, 2018 at 6:25 am

Exactly, Terri! “Halt when we might want to lunge.” The leader you describe sounds all too familiar. Stepping back doesn’t always come naturally but it definitely can and should be learned. Thanks for adding your experience here!



Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™ August 28, 2018 at 11:16 am

Hi Alli,
Your title comes true in the post — it really is a simple and powerful approach. The “short pause” of mindfulness. It doesn’t take long and yet its effects are long lasting and powerful.

My favorite part of your post is this list of “questions” that, by the way, I use in one form or another.
Your list:
Reactionary or thoughtful.

Angry or level-headed.

Loving or spiteful.

Nasty or kind.




Alli Polin August 29, 2018 at 6:27 am

I know you’ve recently written about the power of kindness (even when that may not be their first go-to thought.) We always have a choice and we often need that pause to make it a positive one.



John Bennett August 28, 2018 at 1:03 pm

Your SHINE is great, easy to remember, and gives the PROCESS an approach rather than the SOLUTION from a list of previously determined options (true, IMO, even if it makes ZERO sense). Sadly, the best example: politics these days … Virtually every politician has a political persona. So when finally faced with taking a stand, they choose from the list of options rather than collaborating to find the best alternative (the late John McCain being the greatest exception). SHINE, my words, involves dealing effectively with a “problem to be solved” – similar in many ways with my OSCAR. Both include important roles for individual and group efforts.

AND I too have facilitated workshops on OSCAR with elementary school students as well as other groups through prime organizational contribution stage!!!

As typical, this post, as with most of your posts, is so motivating for me personally that a “simple read and file” is never an option. All good sources are never prescriptive, always informative AND suggestive toward for the path I should take.


Steve L. Wintner, AIA Emeritus August 28, 2018 at 7:50 pm

Alli, a wonderfully simple proposal for effectively becoming a problem-solver. As an architect, that’s one of the day-to-day tasks we undertake. Hey, it’s the foundation of our profession and those that have mastered this approach are the most effective communicators and have a greater number of satisfied clients. no mystery there.
Thank you Alli.


Alli Polin August 29, 2018 at 9:21 am


Thanks for taking the time to read and comment! You’re right – those people who are effective problem solvers do shine because not only is part of their effectiveness making headaches go away but also doing it with respect others. Thanks for sharing your experience!



Alli Polin August 29, 2018 at 6:47 am

Thanks, John. Your comments always add so much to my thinking and the discussion. You bring up an important point – there is room for individual and group efforts in the process. It’s up to an individual to see… and halt long enough to make conscious choices and make change happen. I hope you’ll continue to spread the word about OSCAR too. I heard something about a book, right? 🙂



John Bennett August 29, 2018 at 9:17 am

You mention the pause before making a choice. As many things have always done for me, it reminded me of a Stephen Covey quote: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space where we choose our response.” Stephen always said this capability to have and use the space was / is unique to humans. Now, if only more humans would do so …

As for the book, I have three, really, that I’d like to write and actually am working on Tables of Content for them – as well as material for a proposal for each. They are: “An Optimized Overall K-12 Experience”, “An Optimized Overall College Experience”, and “Personal Servant Leadership.” The third one is most exciting to me currently. I’ve started writing for Medium and Social Media on PSL as I develop thinking on book content. I’m also writing on Quora about thinking related to the first two possibilities. We’ll see if there’s and interest from publishers once I submit the proposal(s) …


Alli Polin August 29, 2018 at 9:23 am

So exciting! I’m all about personal leadership and have made it a cornerstone of my practice and blog for years. Can’t wait to learn more about your take!

Good luck with the proposals!!!



Rhona From Business and Leadership September 18, 2018 at 11:32 am

Hello Alli! SHINE is a nice acronym. It is easy to remember, thus, when leaders are confronted with a problem, they’ll have an easy reminder on how to solve it. However, I have observed that most people stops at the “N” because they become indecisive, over-analyze, and are afraid they might make a mistake. The execution then becomes forever to wait.


Alli Polin September 24, 2018 at 9:57 pm

Hi, Rhona! Thanks for commenting and adding your insight. I agree, I often see people stuck on the N too. We need to remember that every step we take doesn’t have to be perfect but directionally correct counts too. Still, people get stuck. That’s when we need friends and advisors who can help us make the leap to that E…



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