Standing In The Gap


Showing up for one another in our greatest times of need

Life is messy. It has the tendency to kick the livin’ snot out of us. And sometimes, as Connected Leaders, we run out of gas. It is during these times that we need the supportive people in our lives to step in.

These are people at work who say “don’t worry; I’ve got you.” Clients who guide us for a change. Friends who show up with linguine and clam sauce. Team members who pray. These are the people who stand in the gap for us when we are sometimes too weary, overwhelmed, or grieving.

When we are broken wide open or just struggling with more ordinary challenges, we need people to show up with ease and without question.

Empathy – the ability to feel another’s emotions because you are consciously aware of your own – is a leadership super-power. It starts with us learning to be kind to ourselves. It motivates us to leave the comfort of our own lives to be present to others. It is about connecting with and empowering others so they soar in ways they did not think possible, even during dark times. When we nourish the well-being of our colleagues and loved ones while also tending to our wholeness, courage is able to ride shot-gun with us.

Empathy – the ability to feel another’s emotions because you are consciously aware of your own – is a leadership super-power.

A firing-on-all-cylinders work culture and loving personal circle is created when we say to others and hear others say to us, “you are not alone. I get it. Me, too.”

There was a three-day period recently during which I did not leave our house. I stayed in my pj’s, and quite simply put, cried me a river. It was a normal response to a heartbreaking situation. The months of trying to be strong in the face of being broken caught up to me. Friends called. Family members flew in. And I knew what it was like, once again, to have people “stand in the gap for me.” A friend. Thomas Becker, reminded me of this powerful phrase as so many lift us up with their love and prayerful thoughts.

In the toughest times, we rest on the grace and generosity of others.

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Karen Hardwick brings decades of expertise to her work as a trusted advisor and coach to C-level and senior executives, their teams, and organizations.

Karen is known for sharing her own life-stories with clients in order to role-model transparency, foster connection and empathy, and enhance success. She has created a unique model for deepening connection — The Connected Leader™ — which gets to the core of a company and its people with compassion, intuition, and business savvy. Her upcoming book, The Connected Leader, is filled with her powerful voice and inspires others to lead with emotional wholeness, spiritual strength, and mental well-being in order to become their best selves and help others do the same.

Karen lives in Atlanta with her husband, Greg, and their 17-year-old son, Matthew, where she can be found around the table with friends and family eating nourishing, home-cooked meals and sharing stories. She is the biggest contributor to the family ‘swear jar,’ despite her daily practice of meditation and prayer. And above all, Karen believes that living a life of connection is courageous; a sacred calling that requires all we’ve got.

Karen J. Hardwick, M.Div., MSW


The Power of Connection

Karen is currently writing a book about how the power of connection can transform leaders into catalysts, groups into teams, and businesses into places where people lean in to courage, clarity, and compassion.

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