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Highlight people’s passions: Karin Lubin

Michael Hunter


Welcome to Uncommon Leadership.

I’m Michael Hunter with Uncommon Teams.

Today I’m talking with Karin Lubin, Doctor of Education.

Karin is a wellbeing coach, trainer, and exercise enthusiast driven by a desire to inspire and energize leaders and teams. She does this through self-reflection for clarity and wisdom while building inner and outer strength. She uses body building, passion, reflective journaling, and self-connection as the foundational basis for inner mastery.

Karin wants each person to experience their life rich with purpose and meaning where they integrate their unique body and soul wisdom. Karin uses her wisdom journals that support people in transition and recovery to greater clarity, self-esteem, and emotional resilience. She uses her seasonal Wisdom Journals™ and Internal Family System Wisdom Journals™ in her one-on-one coaching and her group Journal Wisdom Circles.

Welcome, Karin!

Karin Lubin 1:09

Thank you, Michael.

It’s wonderful to be here. Thank you.

Michael 1:14

Happy to have you here today.

In your journey to seeing people as people and leveraging the unique gifts that each person brings, when did you first recognize this might be a valuable approach?

Karin 1:28

Well, let’s just say that I started out in a leadership role.

First, I was a teacher, going back in time, and then I became a principal.

One of the things that I learned is that in the role of leadership, there’s a hierarchy.

In the old style I was groomed into, it was all a hierarchical kind of approach.

I was asking people to do whatever it was that the system or the organization was wanting, where we wanted to go.

I said, “Let’s all go there.”

What I learned is that I wasn’t really paying attention to everyone wanting to be seen and heard.

Once I understood this piece, it completely shifted how I did and do leadership.

What was an external role as a leader became much more of an internal role and really a lifestyle.

Leadership became much more of an internal lifestyle, building upon certain characteristics and allowing people to be seen and heard.

Once I got that, because I realized I wanted to be seen and heard, I also then got training in this process called the Passion Test, which really helped people get clarity about what their passions were, strengths, and talents.

When you could pull those together and highlight them, that’s when I saw people light up and be on fire.

That became the most viable approach: to pull on and highlight those things that people really wanted to do, they were passionate about, and that they were also good at.

I’m not talking about somebody who’s passionate about something and they don’t really have the skill in that yet.

I was talking and continue to talk about how passions and strengths when they align together, wow.

You see that, and then you lift it up and highlight it, and say “Let’s shine on that.”

People become so engaged with their work and their life.

It’s so beautiful.

When did I first recognize this?

After I really burned out as a…it goes on and on.

I could tell you I was burned out as an administrator. Realized that didn’t work.

What I’m telling you now, in the intuitive leadership field that I have been developing for myself and with others, has really been after I burned out and went “Okay,” and I also got my doctorate in educational and organizational leadership.

What I studied, actually, was servant leadership.

I kind of stand on the shoulders of Robert Greenleaf, Larry Spears, all these people who really developed the concept of servant leadership.

I have pulled together: there’s 10 characteristics of a servant leader.

What I did, Michael, was, I then figured out a structure that I could use to pull all that together.

And then include, in my own words, in my own way, a style where we could really see the value in each person, their passions, and their gifts, and then create this flow where the team, where people, just felt like they were included. They were loved up.

I say loved up because most people, they do their job and then they’re out of there.

This is very different.

This is full-on, bring yourself fully into the team.

Everywhere you go, you’re fully in.

I hope that makes sense. And that I answered your question.

Michael 5:55

It makes sense to me.

We’ll let our audience tell us whether it makes sense to them.

If I’m in an environment where the squishy people stuff isn’t welcomed, maybe is even looked down upon, how can I start helping my team feel seen?

Karin 6:22

It’s very basic.

I’m going to share with you the five characteristics that I call upon as an intuitive leader.

And let me just say again, that an intuitive leader, in my definition, is not a role. It’s a lifestyle.

I’m really looking at values and specific structures to help me with a group.

The first value or characteristic of an intuitive leader is respect.

Everyone can handle respect.

People want respect.

I want respect.

What does that mean?

It means that you listen, you ask questions, you’re not on your phone, looking down, you’re not trying to do 50 things.

You’re actually engaged with the person.

That’s not squishy.

That’s not gooey, weird stuff.

That’s being present.

People like that.

I personally like that.

I want that for myself.

So that’s what I’m going to model with other people.

The other characteristic for an intuitive leader is being real.

So again, squishy (I love that word, by the way) is not necessary.

When you’re real, you’re being transparent.

You’re being vulnerable.

You’re saying “I’m distracted. I’m not on my game today.” Or, “I got some things to do and I really want to pay attention and I can’t do it right now. Can you give me 10 minutes?”

None of this is out-there stuff.

It’s being very real and present.

Then, the third characteristic is resilience.

Resilience to me is: what do you have inside, that when things go crazy, there’s chaos, there’s change, how flexible are you?

Again, that means that instead of flailing all about—and maybe we do need to flail for a moment—then we say, “Okay, I’m coming back to myself and now I’m going to handle this as the reality. I see that things have changed. The direction I thought we were all going in has shifted. So, let’s pay attention to that. And now, where do we want to go?”

That’s becoming resilient or flexible.

Responsive, that’s the fourth characteristic of an intuitive leader.

When you’re responsive, you say something, I take it in and I say, “Okay, Michael, I got what you just said. So, what can we do about it?” And then you tell me something. And I go, “Here’s what I can do,” or, “Yeah, that sounds great.”

I respond.

When I was a teacher, I remember a principal who I’d go in and I was like, “Okay, here’s my problems, help me.”

I remember I would leave at the end and feel like nothing got acknowledged.

“Did I just spend a half hour kind of dumping out stuff and asking for help?”

I felt like I just left with no help, no support.

It’s as though he was like a sponge. And everything would go in it.

And then I was like, “Okay, so what just happened?”

Nothing happened.

So, being responsive is actually acknowledging.

Even if my principal could have said, “Got it, Karin, I hear you. This is very stressful,” that would have been the first thing. That would have been, “Thank you. Thank you.”

That didn’t happen.

And then the last and final, the fifth characteristic, is being reflective.

When I say reflective, that’s how can you set, inside your schedule, a time to be self-reflective?

Because if you don’t know what’s going on with yourself, it’s very hard to then be connected to other people.

Everything about intuitive leadership, Michael, is about being connected to yourself and then being able to connect to others.

My version of self-reflection is journaling.

Some of the great leaders, like Robin Sharma, who wrote A Leader Without a Title, The Monk and the Ferrari. I don’t know if you’re familiar with him. He is working with CEOs all over the world. He talks about, which is what I love, journaling, and self-reflection every day. And he exercises.

That is so great.

Because how you stay connected to your well-being is through, I believe, body, mind, and soul or spirit or whatever word you want to use.

I’ve talked enough, Michael. Thoughts? Questions?

Michael 11:57

So, if I were to summarize everything that you’ve just said, if I want to get started on this with my team and they’re not used to me showing up in this way, they’re not used to being asked to, or able to, show up in this way, a way for me to start, that minimize the uncomfortableness that they and I feel, would be to start talking with my people one-on-one. Just ask, “What’s going on with you?” And then respond back as you said, “I hear you, that sounds frustrating,”—sad, angry, whatever the emotions might be.

Karin 12:53

That’s awesome.

That’s a great suggestion.

Another suggestion is to, even with your team, just get into partners and just partner up.

For one minute each, everyone shares.

This is from Lisa Nichols, who works with teens and does a lot with teen programs.

She brought this to the Transformational Leadership Council, which people might have heard with Jack Canfield, who’s kind of a big success coach.

One of the things that they’ve done is something called What’s Up With Me.

You just take one minute.

If you and I were sitting together, I would just say, “What’s up with me…” and I would talk about what’s up with me in the present moment.

So, what’s up with me?

I check in.

I only have one minute, by the way.

So not a lot of time.

“I noticed my back feels maybe a little tight. What’s up with me is, I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.” I just keep saying “What’s up with me is…”

It’s a way to transition into being present with the group with that person.

You just listen.

You don’t say a thing.

After the minute, you begin to share what’s up with you, and I just completely get quiet and listen.

So, we’ve done a number of things.

We’ve listened.

We’ve been respectful.

That person has felt heard.

We’ve been real.

We’ve been reflective.

We’re building these muscles on how to just show up.

We can do it in a number of different ways.

I like how you just suggested this one way and I’m suggesting another.

Everyone starts to say, after you’ve done it five times, “Oh, yeah, I know how to do this. And I can bring myself to the group.”

It’s really a beautiful thing.

It’s also a way to build safety.

To build trust.

To be able to transition.

If I was just in my car driving, and I’m rushing to get somewhere, and then I’m here and I’m, “Aaaah”.

It gives me that time to just come back into where I am and get present.

It’s really fun.

Michael 15:25

It’s a really easy way to help people acclimate to this new way of being.

When someone new joins the team, when our boss or some-level-up boss does a surprise visit, they can join in without knowing anything else is going on, without any detailed explanation.

Karin 16:02

That’s right.

That’s correct.

I will say, just right off the bat, Michael, not everyone is going to be in alignment with being an intuitive leader.

Because it’s about an inside-out job.

I started thinking that leadership was about the outside and then bringing it back in.

It was an external thing.

I had to move people.

I had to grow people.

I didn’t really get that it was also: I had to grow. I had to learn. I had to move myself around and adapt myself to what was the culture of a community or an organization or a team, and then be able to literally grow myself so that I could then understand and be with this team.

There’s a TV series, you might have heard of it, New Amsterdam. It’s really interesting, because this guy who’s the medical director, he says something that is very much in alignment with an intuitive leader, servant leader.

Here’s what he says: “How can I help?”

It’s that basic.

“I’m gonna get present here, and I’m going to engage, and listen to what Michael or whomever we’re listening to, and talking to, and we listen to, “How can I help?”

I love that.

Michael 17:49

I like that it offers help, rather than inflicting.

Karin 17:54

No kidding.


Yes. That’s right.

You’re listening.

Because again, at least in my experience, I was told that I have to tell people what to do.

And the real truth is, I have to listen far more before I speak.

When I can do that, I’m much more effective for the group.

It’s not about my ego.

It’s more about, how can we lead?

Well, we got to listen a lot more.

Michael 18:39


People often believe that leadership is about doing and telling.

It’s really about being and listening.

Karin 18:59


There is something about, that when we’re doing, bringing forth these values of being real, respectful, resilient, reflective, and responsive, there’s healing in this.

If this is the soft side of life, it’s actually 75% of what we need.

We need that soft skill, in order to be able to do the hard skills.

Most of us have, again, at least my experience is, that I thought, and was told, I had to have the hard skills, the things, the structures, the protocols, the talents, to be able to do certain things.

When I realized that was not really serving the larger organization, it became very clear that it was the soft skills.

And that’s actually what people are looking for, HR professionals, etc., when they’re looking for new professionals to come in to either HR or any part of an organization.

They’re looking also for those soft skills.

That’s a much bigger percentage of what they want to see.

Because you can train anyone to do certain things.

Very interesting to me.

The healing piece is, I believe, it’s one and the same.

If I am working on listening to you, Michael, that, to me, is healing for me just as much as it is for you.

When we start to understand that there’s this reciprocity that’s happening all the time.

It’s really important, to understand that.

Passion kind of guides me.

That doesn’t mean that every person who’s an intuitive leader is going to be guided by passion.

That’s just not, we go with who we are, right?

We are real.

I want to light people up and hear what they’re passionate about.

Then I can so much more effectively place them, support them, mentor, learn from, myself.

Then we do that within the structure of a team.

There’s some really great synchronicity when you start to see everyone in that capacity of moving from the place of what they’re really great at.

There’s trust that they’re going to do it.

There’s a Gallup study, Michael, I don’t know if you just saw, Gallup is coming out with a new book. I don’t know if you’ve heard it, about the culture shock or something like this.

What they’re finding is that after the pandemic, we have changed as teams, as organizations, all across the United States and globally.

To say that we haven’t been impacted by the pandemic would be kind of a disservice.

So what Gallup is now saying is that the big shift is that people don’t want to go to work.

They want to work from home.

90% of the people.

So, organizations, teams, have to figure out these new structures and ways to connect.

That connection is so primary.

Connect to yourself, connect with others.

How do you do it?

I love Zoom just for that reason, because we can create these structures.

I like simple and powerful.

I’ve come up with, besides the five characteristics of an intuitive leader, I have five keys to, or structures for, building an intuitive leadership team.

Not everyone is going to want to do this, because it’s just not their way.

Totally fine.

That’s why there’s like 5000 ways of being a leader.

There’s so many ways of being a leader in the world.

We each have to find our way, our path.

Being an intuitive leader is also listening and knowing who you are, so that you can bring, Michael, your strengths.

You’re a detail guy, clearly. I love that.

Would you say that’s who you are?

Michael 24:11

In some things, I’m very detailed, and in other things, I’m very big picture.

Karin 24:15

And isn’t that wonderful?

So then, I get to learn more about, how do you see the big picture?

I’m gonna learn.

This is where we figure out, how can we serve each other? How can we serve our community?

That’s the biggest thing.

When we are passionately communicating, at least that’s my word, then we’re also raising people up and showing them how strong they are. And they’ve then raised themselves up.

That’s cool.

Michael 25:03

That’s maybe the core of the most high-performing teams I’ve had the joy of working with. That they get that, the more I raise you up, the more I help you grow, the more we all grow.

Karin 25:25


There’s a quote from Robert Greenleaf. Robert Greenleaf was the gentleman from AT&T who came up with the concept of servant leadership in business.

There’s been servant leadership in the religious or spiritual worlds, not so much in the business world until the 70s, 60s and 70s.

Robert Greenleaf said the best test is basically what you just said, but he says it a little differently.

He says the best test is, do those served grow as persons?

Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, and more autonomous?

When I read that and heard that, that’s when I went, “This is for me. This is the style of leadership that I can get behind and grow into. It’s what I want to continue to grow into for the rest of my life.”

Larry Spears and Robert Greenleaf really were the ones who put this into language I could understand.

Now it’s very common to hear about servant leadership in business.

You did not hear about that when I was studying it.

My whole dissertation was on servant leadership within the visionary leaders in education.

There’s these 10 characteristics of servant leadership.

I wanted to see if there was congruence with a visionary leader and a servant leader.

It was kind of cool to see that there’s a lot of alignment, and then a few areas where there could be a little more support.

It was very, very cool to say that servant leadership is now such a common thing, a common word.

How can I serve? That’s what we’re saying. How can I help?

Having conversations with team members in that aspect or that realm of really listening is so key.

So how can I serve you, Michael? What else can I say to help your community?

Michael 27:51

Well, first, I agree. I’m so excited to see this concept of servant leadership in a more broad, I help you, you help me, making the team better overall, become more and more pervasive, because that seems just a much healthier approach and a more humane society that we’re building through that.

Karin 28:25

Yes, so true. Absolutely. I am so yes.

Michael 28:33

If I’m working in an environment that isn’t there yet; I’m doing this myself, seeing benefits; I’m doing this with my team, seeing benefits; and then we’re bumping up against other people that we need to work with and interact with and who are managing us in various ways, who are not so whippy with this concept; how can we ease those interactions?

Karin 29:05

You have to just continue to demonstrate and live from the principles that are, what I’ve just referred to as the five R’s.

That’s how you show up.

You don’t have to get them to do it as much as you get to do it.

You get to show up in that way.

Whether it rubs off is great or not.

The biggest thing is, again, if I think I have to change you, I am pretty much screwed.

So, even if you don’t feel as comfortable, after you’ve seen me enough times, I’ve talked a certain way enough times, you start to go, “Oh, okay, this is how Karin comes across and what she does and it seems pretty consistent.”

Consistency is key, right, Michael? I know you know that.

Because anything that we do, if I do one thing for five days, and then I’m like, “Oh, let’s forget what I just did. Now let’s do this,” people are going to say, “Well, I think it feels unsafe. It feels loosey goosey right now, a little chaotic,” and people don’t have a clear focus.

Part of, at least I believe, as an intuitive leader, I have to have some clarity about where we are going, and then dialoguing a lot with people about, “This is the future I’d like to see. Is this the future you want to see? Is this where you want to go as a company? As a team? As an organization?”

Because that is really an important thing: that we’re seeing something that others can go, “Yeah, I get that.”

Consistency is so key.

Refining all the time.

Discerning all the time.

If I went, “Okay, I’m gonna do it this way today.” And then I’m like, flipping over here and then over there and I’m all over the place, people are gonna be like, “Ah, I don’t I don’t trust her. I don’t know what the heck she’s doing.”

That’s the opposite of what I’m suggesting as a consistent practice.

It’s a lifestyle.

Some days I’m much better at it, Michael, than other days. That’s the truth.

I’m always working and playing with this to be, I want to be authentic. I want to be real. And I want to be respectful.

Sometimes I’m totally on my game.

Other days, God, dang, I have to say, “Redo. Could I redo that, please, and step back for a minute, and then say, I want to really listen to you now?” Or whatever the situation is.

Michael 32:15

One change I’d make to what you said is that bouncing all over is fine when we frame it as, “These are a bunch of tiny experiments.” Because then we are consistently experimenting. That consistency, I agree, is useful. If someone else was looking in, doesn’t understand that we’re framing these as experiments, then it may seem like we’re bouncing all over, and be confusing why we are so happy making all these total changes in direction happening every few days.

Karin 32:56


That’s a very different, you’ve communicated that. Which I think is very different than if I just said, “Well, today I agree. I believe in this. I don’t know what I’m going to believe in tomorrow.”

You’re saying very clearly with communication in place that this is actually a protocol that we have in place, that we’re going to try out different things every so often. That’s very different.

Michael 33:28


And that communication, the importance of that, is one throughline through our whole conversation today.

That if we’re not communicating with the people that we’re leading, and the people who are trying to lead us, then nothing else really matters.

Karin 33:56

That’s right.

I find that as I am using email, I mean, I’ve been using email forever, so have many of us.

What I’m noticing, though, now, is that I have to really pay attention to my response to people.

If I get too many emails, I can lose emails, right?

At least this is me, talking to everyone here.

Then I’m not communicating effectively and saying…even if I can’t really get to it, I can at least say, “I’m gonna get to this in a few days. I got your email.”

Because some of us are waiting.

I’ve had this experience where I’m wondering, “Did that person ever get that email?”

It’s floating out there in space, and then you’re emailing again and you’re calling and then there’s all this time.

So that communication, to close the loop, so to speak, is to be able to say, “Got it, and I’ll get to you,” or however you wish to respond.

Some communication is verbally, like you and I talking, and then there’s the written communication, and there’s even texting. There’s so many ways that we’re doing this communication.

Sometimes I find I lose it every now and then.

So, how can I just say, “Got it,” thumbs up emoji, whatever.

That’s a real practice for me.

Michael 35:38

This has been a great conversation today. What else should I ask you, Karin?

Karin 35:45

The question to ask is, how are you setting up times in your day-to-day life, that you can be self-reflective, to know who and what you are all about?

That is the biggest question that I ask myself daily, and that’s why I journal.

So, I ask everyone, do you have a practice where you can be self-reflective, whether it’s running or taking a shower and you get the great ideas, or you’re journaling, or you’re talking to a mentor?

What is it that you do to find yourself becoming reflective on a daily basis?

That is probably the key that I would like to leave people with.

I would love, if people have more interest, Michael, in intuitive leadership, that they can download the intuitive leadership PDF that I’ve sent to you, and I’m not sure if you want me to share more about that or if you want to just say where it is.

Michael 36:58

Yeah, let me give them the download. And I’ll put this in the show notes as well. And then please share more. So that’ll be at,, all one word.

Karin 37:15

Okay, that’s awesome.

If people have, if I can also just add, that if you feel like this speaks to you on some level, then I really invite you to try it out, explore it.

I’m very happy for your people to go to my website.

You can read some of my blogs, you can email me.

My website is And it’s Karin, K A R I N L U B I N. Doctor, D R. I’m sure, Michael, you’ll have that in your notes as well.

You’re welcome to this free download.

There’s lots of things to help you with learning more about yourself.

The journaling that I have, there’s a page that says “journaling.”

You can go there and there is a download for feeling words.

Because some, at least my experience is, that when I’m asking people, “How do you feel?” and they say, “Good,” or they say, “Bad.”

There are a lot more words that we can use.

Even beginning to open up the language of how you might be feeling is exciting.

It’s also so relevant, so that we can then begin again to model for people.

What does it sound like when you’re in touch with, if not all of your feelings, some of your feelings?

Lots of resources for people.

Michael 39:10

Many resources for our audience.

I think you just answered this question: is there anything else you’d like to leave our audience with today?

Karin 39:29

Go out there and be real.

If you can’t do it in your job, do it in your family, with your family.

Be real.

Be respectful.

Be resilient.

Be responsive.

Be reflective.

See how that works.

This is with family and with your work life.

Try it out somewhere and see how it works for you.

It might be lovely.

It might be a wonderful surprise.

Michael 39:57

It almost certainly will be.

Karin 40:02


It’s all about connection.

Connecting to yourself and to others.

Thank you, Michael, for this conversation. I feel very delighted to be able to be here with you. And I hope this is helpful to you and to your listeners.

Michael 40:22


And audience, please let us know. Contact Karin and myself. Let me know—let us know: What did you enjoy? Where did we maybe confuse you? Where does this not resonate with you? Let’s have a conversation.

Karin 40:41

Oh, I love that. Wonderful. That sounds great. Yeah, let’s do it.

Michael 40:50

Thank you, Karin and audience for being here today. Have a great day.

Thanks for joining us on Uncommon Leadership today.

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