A woman seated on a chair with her hands pressed against her mouth

We are bringing “Darling Letters” from your inbox to the blog! We love the art of letter writing and believe it helps build authentic community. Our editors and contributors have thoughtfully written encouraging letters to cut through the busyness and speak straight to your heart.

In her novel “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” author J.K. Rowling wrote, “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” 

Recently, on a hectic work day, I was reminded of these powerful words. As my email notifications pinged in the background, my stress levels piqued. Then, the moment happened. Someone on my team asked a question in an email chain about something that I had previously explained in detail, and I reacted instead of responding with patience. 

I reacted instead of responding with patience. 

I sent a quick and snippy, “Per my previous email…” You know that passive aggressive, easy response we send when we safely sit behind the comfort of our computer screens? She responded kindly with the necessary information, and instantly, I felt that little twinge in my heart say, “Oh shoot, I could have done better.”

The ball was in my court. I thought: What type of leader do I want to be? Will I be the person who is quick to apologize and who lifts up my team? Or will I be the prideful leader who is unrelenting and unwilling to show grace?

I knew what I wanted my answer to be. So I sent her a note thanking her for her hard work on the project and apologizing for being short with her in my previous email.

I’ve had my fair share of bad bossesinternship managers in NYC who sent me home crying, nonprofit leaders who micromanaged my every move and retail managers who made me carry all the weight. None of these are the type of leader or person I want to be. I want to roll up my sleeves and work side-by-side with my team. I want to champion them. I want to stay at the table to have the hard but necessary conversations for clarity. 

The measure of our leadership isn’t contingent upon how well we treat our superiors or those who have something to offer us. It’s based on how we treat our team, especially the ones who are a few steps behind us. Let’s roll up our sleeves and be leaders who lead from a place of humility and grace and watch how it transforms the workplace.

The measure of our leadership is based on how we treat our team, especially the ones who are a few steps behind us.

With hope,
Stephanie Taylor, Online Managing Editor

How would you describe your style of leadership? As leaders, how can we help foster healthy workplace culture?

Image via Ben Cope, Darling Issue No. 15

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