January 26, 2017 

Own the Ugly: Ditch the Sugarcoated Leadership and
Reconnect with Your Team This Valentine’s Day 

Best-selling authors and leadership experts Karin Hurt and David Dye teach leaders how to reconnect with their teams by having authentically ugly conversations. 

Americans will spend upwards of $20 billion this Valentine’s Day on candy, cards, and flowers; some of which will be perceived as genuine expressions of love and affection, others of which will be cast aside and resented as tone-deaf responses to real relationship problems. Leaders, too, can easily fall into this “tone-deaf trap” with their teams, say Karin Hurt and David Dye, authors of the best-selling Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results Without Losing Your Soul.

“We see it all the time,” says Hurt. “One leader provides pizza for the team and everyone enthusiastically digs in. Great conversation ensues, and the team’s energy spikes. Meanwhile, another leader gives their team the same pizza and is met with grudging silence as dispirited people choke down a slice and leave. The pizza is perceived as an attempt to sugarcoat the team’s very real problems.”

In an era when 1 in 3 employees don’t trust their employer, leaders benefit from “owning the ugly” this Valentine’s Day, says Dye. “Just like chocolate is not love, pizza is not leadership. Now more than ever, people crave authenticity from their managers. Instead of superficial teambuilding over carbohydrates, they want candid conversations that will help them solve their team’s core challenges.”

To launch and guide such “ugly” truth-telling conversations, say Hurt ad Dye, leaders can use a simple acronym for UGLY:

  • U: What Are We Underestimating? Competitive pressures? New technology? The destruction that new manager is doing to our culture? The opportunity that we “don’t have time for?
  • G: What’s Gotta Go? What are we doing now that doesn’t make sense anymore? What processes are more habit than value? What meetings are wasting our time? What’s simply gotta go for us to be remarkable?
  • L: Where Are We Losing? Where are we still under-performing despite our best efforts? Why? Who’s doing it better? How?
  • Y: Where Are We Missing the Yes? What must we say “Yes” to in 2017? What new opportunities are yearning for our attention? Where must we invest more deeply?

This Valentine’s Day, leaders who are ready to ditch sugarcoated leadership (without losing their souls in the process) can download Hurt and Dye’s free Winning Well Tool Kit.


About the Authors

Karin Hurt is a keynote speaker, top leadership consultant, and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and Human Resources. The author of Winning Well and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss, Hurt has been named to Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers, AMA’s 50 Leaders to Watch in 2015, and a Top Thought Leader in Trust by Trust Across America.

David Dye, founder and president of Trailblaze, Inc., a Denver-based leadership development business, is an internationally recognized professional speaker, trainer, and facilitator. He works with leaders, managers, and supervisors to increase their influence, solve common leadership frustrations, and improve their productivity through people-centered leadership. Honored as a top leadership expert to follow in 2015, David is the author of Winning Well and The Seven Things Your Team Needs to Hear You Say.