Building capacity is a topic that is on everyone’s lips in local government. Whether it is capacity for a project, in a department, team, or one’s self. Everyone wants to know how to build more capacity because it seems like there is never enough.What is capacity? Capacity is the capability to perform, the amount that can be contained, or the maximum production possible. When I coach individuals or teams, and I hear “We don’t have the capacity to do that”, I get curious. Sometimes, it means they do not have the capability. If that is the case, we need to peel back those layers and understand what is interfering with performance. Is it training, money, knowledge, or people? Until we go below the surface, we cannot fully understand how to address the concern.If the capacity issue is one of time, it may be time to examine what you or your team is working on. Many times, we do work activities, because we think we have to or because we always have done them. When we get on autopilot with our daily work activities, we are not really looking at what we do with a critical eye. Some of the activities may no longer be needed.Another aspect to look at - is if you have the right people doing the right activities. I was recently certified in an assessment tool that looks at how we work, naturally. How we use our energy in certain aspects of our workday and what is the natural way we use our energy to complete work most efficiently and effectively. This was so enlightening for me and explained so much; why certain tasks were painful and took twice as long as those tasks that came naturally to me and were completed with joy and ease.Chances are we have members of our teams who are especially skilled at certain work tasks because they come naturally to them. Perhaps, with a bit of shuffling, we may be able to put the right people on the right tasks to complete those necessary tasks with joy and ease. Do you remember the old swap meet phrase, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure?” This same idea may be applied to our team’s tasks. You may find after this awareness and shuffling, you really do have the capacity.As always, I love to hear from you. What would be necessary for you to have capacity?With Love and To Your Success,Maria
I love this quote by Edith Wharton, “There are two ways of spreading light…To be a candle or the mirror that reflects it.”In this season of light, I ponder what light represents in our lives and how that relates to our leadership. I love Edith Wharton’s perspective of spreading light, but what exactly does that mean?Spreading light comes in the form of lighting up a room. As leaders, we can light up a room with our presence; you know, by being fully present to others. We do this by listening without distraction and giving our full attention to those around us.We can also spread light through our attitudes and behaviors. We spread light through love, care, and compassion. Light takes away the darkness. We know that smiles are contagious and can be a great conduit to spreading light and love.As leaders, we can also be the mirror that reflects light. Through encouragement and support of those we lead, we see the light in their eyes, their behaviors, and in their attitudes. Mentoring those we lead and reflecting back their greatness is one of the most profound activities we can do as leaders.We also reflect light by “lightening” the load of others. We can help lighten the heaviness of others by supporting our teams literally and figuratively. We can support others in a variety of ways that don’t cost any money. Sometimes small acts of just listening, giving an encouraging word, or acknowledging others can be extraordinary and have lasting profound effects. Serving those we lead is an example of love-based leadership.Light in the darkness and lightening the load are profound ways we demonstrate love-based leadership. In this season of light, I wish you a blessed holiday season and a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.As always, I love to hear from you. How will you be a light to others today?With love,Maria
Laughter is completely underrated. Laughter is our heart’s outpouring of love. We know laughter is contagious, yet it is powerful medicine. Leadership use of laughter is like a power-charged tool with many uses.One of the most compelling benefits of laughter is shared, joyous connection. Comedian Victor Borge said, “Laughter is the closest distance between two people.” He is right; laughter connects us at deep level, which is why it is so contagious. Laughter moves beyond the superficiality of words right to our souls, moving all pretense and guard aside.I’m always amazed at the extreme power of laughter; people laughing just in response to someone else’s laughter. I remember a time when my husband, daughter, and I were watching a silly movie. The premise was a bit far-fetched, but we liked the actor, Bill Murray, in the film. He inherited a circus elephant and wanted to take it across country to sell it to a zoo. In one scene, he was driving an 18-wheeler, which he did not know how to drive, with the elephant in the trailer. In the cab, he had several boxes of candy that he was feeding to the elephant, since he didn’t know what else to feed the animal and of course he experienced one series of hysterical mishaps after another!I laughed so hard—it was one of the funniest scenes I ever saw! What was even funnier was how hard my husband and daughter were laughing at my reaction. They did not find the scene as hysterical as I did, but my deep belly, soulful laughter was so contagious that all three of us were rolling on the floor, in tears. Laughter goes to the core, infecting those within its path.When was the last time you had a good, deep belly laugh?As always, I love hearing your stories!With love,Maria
I’ve been working with a city government who is going through some pretty significant changes. They are going through a major re-organization, and of course, some people are experiencing layoffs.I was coaching a department director whose position may be eliminated. He was very uneasy about his future and even more importantly, he was devastated at the thought of his thirty years of service suddenly ending. He thought the City would take care of him in exchange for his tri-decade loyalty. He felt extremely let down, devastated, and was shocked that the City he loved so much would do this to him.Enter, the psychological contract. We often times enter into a psychological contract with our employers unconsciously. These contracts are built on unspoken expectations. We’re not even aware that we’ve formed these contract. But don’t let that fool you…just because we are not aware of these psychological contracts, does not mean they don’t exist.To the contrary - the greater the lack of awareness we have around these contracts, the greater the hold it has on us.Our psychological contracts are like a love affair. We give so much to our organization in this relationship. We work hard for this relationship. We don’t sleep, we hardly make time to eat, and we are almost always thinking about this relationship. How can we give more? How can we please more?When there is a breach in the contract, the employee/employer relationship can quickly erode and this is where disengagement sets in. It’s like a break up. Our expectations were not met.We need to manage expectations with ourselves and our team members. We can do this upfront with interviewing, onboarding, reinforcing it during orientation and training, and periodically throughout the year.A very simple expectation could be that I’m going to give my all to this organization, my expertise, my experience, and my knowledge, and in return they are going to give me a paycheck every two weeks.Hmmmm that simplifies it.When did you experience a breach in your psychological contract? How did you handle it? As always, I love to hear from you.With Love and To Your Success,Maria
What needs would employees need to fill that they aren’t getting at work? I’d love to hear your thoughts!With Love and To Your Success,Maria
Several years ago, I had a tremendous learning experience regarding forgiveness.My mentor, a consultant hired by our corporate office specifically to mentor me for one year, leveraged the difficulty in the relationship I had with our division general manager to his advantage. By indicating that he was still needed beyond his contract (due to the strained relationship between the division general manager and me), he prolonged his lucrative consultant income for another two years.I was eventually relieved of my managerial role and the consultant continued his monthly visits to manage and lead my department. I was hurt and resentful. I became exhausted carrying this load of pain and then I finally realized that holding this anger was not honoring or serving anyone, least of all, me.After reconnecting with my spirit, I knew that I had to forgive him. The next time he was in town, I apologized for my behavior and told him that I forgave him for his part in reinforcing the wedge between the divisional general manager and me.The immediate sensation I had was lightness. I could hardly believe how physically light I felt, and I remember holding on to the edge of the desk as it felt like I was going to float away. I was nearly giddy with delight and wondered what had taken me so long to get there.What is keeping you from forgiving someone or yourself? The weight and burden are only hurting you. Free yourself with the amazing gift of forgiveness.Better late, than never…With love,Maria
Abraham Maslow’s well-known and highly respected Hierarchy of Needs theory describes five level of needs. What does Maslow’s theory have to do with leadership?If we don’t understand peoples’ needs, we don’t understand people. Let’s look at the needs beginning with the basic needs:
- Physiological needs – basic needs of air, food, water, shelter, sex, and relief and/or avoidance of pain.
- Safety needs – after the basic needs are met, safety and security must be met.
- Belongingness or Social needs – after safety needs are met, we want to feel connections with people.
- Esteem needs – after social needs are met, we desire self-respect, status, and recognition for our accomplishments.
- Self-Actualization needs – the highest level of needs is the development of our full potential. To achieve this sense of fulfillment, we seek to understand and grow, to find meaning in our work and our lives.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is based on three assumptions:
- only unmet needs motivate,
- needs are hierarchical in nature, basic to complex, and
- lower level needs must be met before moving to a higher-order need.
We can see how the first two tiers, our basic and safety needs are met, just by having a job and a paycheck. The pay affords us the ability to meet our basic and safety-level needs.The third tier, belongingness and/or social needs, are the connections with others we crave. Often, after a certain period of time on the new job, we seek relationships with those with whom we work. Going to lunch, taking coffee breaks with each other, or perhaps a cocktail after work are all ways in which we fill these belongingness needs. It is not unusual for someone to say they "hate the job, but love the people they work with". This is an important sign for leaders to notice. As soon as those employees get their social needs met outside of work...they are gone!Our esteem needs are when we seek outside approval from others. We want to know we are valued and appreciated. Employees always remember leaders who are good at this. We often remember how we felt when someone said something to or about us, rather than the specific words uttered by the person. How we felt about those statements or actions, has a much longer duration and more deeply affects us than the actual words. I remember while growing up I often heard my mother repeating one of her favorite mantras, “Actions speak louder than words.” How true mom, how very true! This is often the place that we lose “good people” at work, because they don’t feel valued and honored.The highest level of needs Maslow presented was the need for self-actualization. This is where we seek, with a ferocious hunger to find meaning and purpose in what we do. OK, we may start a new job and begin the quest of the hierarchical pyramid all over again, but we will eventually be right back to this higher order of need. Meeting this need is the fulfillment of meaning. People leave organizations when they reach this need level because their work is not a conduit to their meaning-seeking behavior and need.As always, I love to hear from you. What level are you at currently? What is one immediate action you can take today, based on this knowledge?With love,Maria
Power is a hot topic. Not all power is equal. In this video, I review the five types of power in leadership, how shared power can make followers uncomfortable, and some considerations you will be able to apply going forward.We have been taught for too long, to let others define our thoughts, feelings, jobs, lives, and meaning for us. What to think, what to wear, how to feel—is it any wonder we get nervous when we receive permission or power to make decisions or design aspects of our lives for ourselves?Like anything else in this world, all forms of power can be for the greater good or for selfish and egoic purposes. As we review these five types of power, consider your former bosses and your own leadership style as you prepare to better define what kind of leader you choose to become.I would love to hear from you. What is your go-to type of power and why?With love,Maria
What in the world, do these three things have in common?Everything.As leaders, we have a responsibility to lead and inspire with clarity. In our busy world, we often don’t take the time to just think and get really clear about the vision and more importantly, the path, systems, and steps necessary to realize the vision.And even worse, we think we have to get there on our own.Well, the good news is that we are not on our own.Prayer and meditation are ways we connect with our Source. Stillness and silence are also paths to feeling that connection with the Universe. French philosopher and scientist Blaise Pascal stated, “All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone.”Through stillness, we obtain clarity. When we have clarity, we have time gained. Time gained comes to us because we have a clearer picture of the problem or dilemma and see an unobstructed path to follow.I cannot think of a more cost efficient use of time. The return on investment with time spent in silence with our Source is abundance beyond our wildest dreams. Some color mandalas, some bring mats to work to meditate, while others simply take time during a pause in the day to find their Source connection.As always, I love hearing your thoughts, what topics would you cover if you were meditating on a lunch break?With love,Maria
Micromanagement is really just FEAR-Management.In the workplace, fear-based leadership is manifested in a number of ways. We see fear in leadership when employers do not trust the employees to do the jobs for which they were hired. Many managers are fearful of losing control, resulting in micromanagement. Micromanagement is a classic display of fear.I once had a student challenge me when we were discussing micromanagement in class. He thought the concept was exaggerated. I then shared with him an experience I had while working with a homebuilder:We were opening up a new community in a different state than our corporate headquarters. After we selected a mailbox and a holiday green color (the same color as the community logo), management asked that we paint the mailbox we selected using the exact same green paint and then ship it back to corporate headquarters for the company president to approve the mailbox and paint color!What are some micromanagement situations you have experienced?With love,Maria
Words are powerful.Recently in the news, we see yet another celebrity immersed in backlash for words spoken. True, as Maya Angelou stated, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It is those words that we speak that create such an emotion-filled response.Thoughts are powerful, but only because thoughts are steeped with words and stories we tell.As leaders, we have a huge responsibility to be thought-filled of our words, the vehicle, by which we communicate.Let’s not just be conscious and strategic in the words we don’t say, but even more responsible in the words we do say.Do your words lift up or pull down?Do your words encourage or diminish?Do your words inspire or de-motivate?Are your words love-fueled or your words fueled by fear?Remember, leadership is powerful—use your power wisely.With love,Maria
For many of the leaders I work with, delegation is a real struggle. Leaders resist delegating because we are so accustomed to doing the work ourselves. Many times, fear will rear its ugly head, thinking that if we want the work done correctly, we must do it ourselves. And then there is the time issue of communicating and training others to complete the task for us.Ahhh, but the benefits of delegation far outweigh the negativity that surrounds this illusive skill. When we delegate, we have more time for our high-priority tasks and we actually get to experience the joy of completing our tasks! Delegation increases our productivity and is a much better use of our resources. Delegation gives us freedom.True, there are some tasks best kept to ourselves such as personal matters, confidential activities, crises, and activities that are specifically delegated to us. However, we can delegate paperwork, routine tasks, technical matters, tasks with developmental potential, and employee problems.Since we are not born with the delegation gene, we must learn this skill. It’s not as hard as you think! Just follow these four simple steps and you will be delegating before you know it:
- Explain the need for delegating, including the reasons why you selected that person to complete the task.
- Clearly set the objectives defining responsibility, level of authority, and deadlines.
- Develop a plan to achieve objectives, resources, and give the authority necessary to obtain those resources.
- Establish an accountability plan with checkpoints.
Which step is trickiest for you?Now go forth, delegate, and prosper!With love,Maria
Sometimes when I start working with new clients they are afraid that I am going to change them or that they have to change who they are to be better leaders. The reality is—to be the best leader you can be, you must be authentic.Authenticity is what attracts followers and speaks to people’s heads as well as their hearts.In coaching, we set goals for directions in which we want to move. We identify roadblocks or barriers that keep us from the movement we desire and create strategy to overcome those barriers.Oftentimes those strategies may include a course correction in the path we already started. We may uncover some limiting beliefs we have about others or ourselves that may be holding us back. When that happens, a beautiful event occurs – we get to choose if we want to keep those barriers or change our course.This is an important point to remember: we are not changing ourselves; we are changing our course of action.What limiting belief or roadblock do you recall that changed your course of action? I’d love to hear from you.With love,Maria
We all leave a legacy, whether by choice or unconsciously. So why not intentionally create the legacy? Do you really want someone else to define your legacy? Meaningfulness, is feeling a part of something bigger, as big as a legacy.The yearning for something more is evident in our society. Work-related illnesses are on the rise, and stress reduction workshops are everywhere. Proof of peoples’ desire for a more spiritual and holistic life is on grocery store shelves, in advertising, and in kitchens and baths across America.Spiritual practices such as yoga, prayer, meditation, and aromatherapy are creeping into offices and boardrooms, which are far from the practices that have guided American businesses since the 18th century. The evidence is out there—we want more!I invite you to discover a model of leadership that can help you realize meaning, abundance, and can inspire and motivate those around you in meaningful experiences. Let’s be a part of something bigger and let’s start now! Let’s be love-based leaders.With love,Maria
So many people tell me about their fear-based organizations and how unproductive those workplaces can be. The key to shifting from fear to love is learning how to love with greater capacity than living in fear. Think of a scale with fear on one side and love on the other. Only when your love for something or someone becomes greater to you than fear, will the scale tip in favor of love. However, if your fear of something or someone is greater than your love for something else, then fear wins again.
- Do I love and respect my desire to go for that position more than my fear of being rejected?
- Do I love and value my goal to launch my own business more than my fear of stepping out and possibly failing?
- Do I value the call to write my own book more than my fear of negative response?
Do you see how easy it is to put more value onto the side of fear? The great news is that we can learn a better way to lead by employing love-based strategies and techniques with tremendous, sustainable results that are more powerful than fear-based methods. We can learn to be irresistible leaders with the power of love. Let’s all get on the same page with the definitions of love and leadership about which I am speaking.
- Love -- the universal definition of love: Honoring, caring, trusting, and respecting one human being to another.
- Leadership -- inspiring one or many toward a vision.
Love is our natural state of being, while fear is learned. Because love is our natural state, it is also the core, the very essence of who we are. When we fully embrace this concept and integrate it with our thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors, we come into the perfect balance of warmth and courage. Warmth and love juxtaposed with courage and strength are not opposed values; in fact, they are completely related. The root origin of the word courage is the French word cuer, which means heart. We know that to be courageous requires fearlessness; and to be fear-less is to be love-filled.Let’s be those courageous, fearless leaders and shift to the other 4-letter word, love.With Love,Maria
Did you know the majority of heart attacks occur around nine o’clock on Monday mornings?One study showed that the most common factor in these heart attacks was that the victims were people whose work had become joyless striving. In other words, they could not find meaning in their work, and their lives had become so out of balance that, one Monday morning, their bodies said, “You are not going to work today. Zap.”1I remember a discussion I had with the general manager of a regional division, discussing with him the importance of finding meaning in work for our employees and leaders. His response was, “I think meaning at work is over-rated.” Overrated? We spend the vast majority of our adult lives at work.One of the primary purposes of a leader is to inspire vision and motivation in those he or she leads, and few things are more inspiring and motivating than meaningful work.If we don’t have meaning…what do we have? We must know the “why” behind the things we do, we are at unrest and certainly unmotivated.As always, I welcome your input. What is the most meaningful aspect of your job and why?With love,Maria1. J. A .Autrey, & S. Mitchell, Real power: Business lessons from the Tao Te Ching (New York: Riverhead Books, 1998), p. 23.
Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking to a local community Leadership cohort. I am sure that most communities have a local leadership program, usually through the Chamber of Commerce where aspiring community leaders learn all aspects of community leadership from local government to education. What a dynamic group of people I met from this particular cohort!This session focused on leadership in education. When I asked the group how they defined leadership, we heard several different perspectives. A common thread among those individuals included the ability to inspire others toward a goal.Leadership can be that simple and yet, that challenging. The complexity of leadership arises in the “inspiration” component because not all of us are inspired in the same way.Through my years of teaching, consulting, and leading, I do find the following seven factors key in inspiring others:
- Authenticity – Transparency is here whether we like it or not. We have developed pretty good BS meters, so be who you are and stop trying to be someone else.
- Approachability – If the people around us do not feel like they can approach us with a problem, or a solution, we open ourselves up to liability and close off innovation – think Enron.
- Relatability – We are more alike than different, and the sooner we accept that, the sooner we can be open and authentic with one another.
- Listening – When we stop to really listen to each other, what we hear can enlighten us with insight, answers, and solutions.
- Decisiveness – Leaders, good leaders, are not afraid to make decisions. If they are not the right decisions, we can course correct. Remember, we cannot course correct if we do not get out on the course.
- Openness – It is important for us to stay open to new ideas and ways of doing our work. Innovation does not come in doing the same thing repeatedly – think Einstein’s definition of insanity.
- Trustworthy – Once we lose trust in others or ourselves, it is extremely difficult to get it back. Innovation, loyalty, and full-on engagement only comes when trust is present.
Inspiring leadership is a huge responsibility…and tremendously rewarding. Are you up for the challenge?
I’ve always considered myself as an organized person, but I must admit that sometimes I get overwhelmed and lose control of my time and organization. In those times of overwhelm, I need to get a grip!Very recently, I found myself in this space of needing to regain control of my time and organization. I realized that nearly every time I got to this place I experienced the same symptoms in my thoughts and behaviors. I feel:
- Overwhelmed and find it difficult to concentrate.
- Unorganized and cannot find key files, papers, or other information.
- Paralyzed by uncertainty and just where to begin.
- Forgetful and miss deadlines or appointments.
Unable to plan due to many, many dark clouds hanging over my head, these are telling signs that I need to get a grip on my organization. When I recognize these symptoms, I do the following simple steps to re-gain control over my life (especially as part of my New Year’s Resolution!):
- Write everything down that is in my head and hanging out in those dark clouds. When I do this, I create white space literally and figuratively.
- Determine and/or revamp my file system to capture notes, to-do action items, projects, and other information.
- Create a plan with timelines and stick to it.
- Celebrate the mini-successes!
The simple steps outlined above give me structure, which in turn gives me freedom! When I am free of clutter and dark clouds, I am able to concentrate, create, and plan. On Thursday, I will share with you my most recent file system, my Freedom Filing System.With love and no overwhelm,Maria
Love of Self, Love of Source, and Love of Others (the love-based leadership model) all require love, trust, and commitment to growth and development in the workplace. If trust and love are not ever-present, then fear-based decisions will result.“For centuries the human species has been discovering that it is the creator of its own reality, making the discovery, and retreating from it in disappointment (because the wizard [referring to the Wizard of Oz story] is not what we expected) and in fear (because the freedom the discovery brings is unknown and terrifying).”1.Fear is powerful; so powerful that it alone creates a false reality of that which is feared in the first place. Victor Frankl illustrates, “It is characteristic of this fear that it produces precisely that of which the patient is afraid…the wish is father to the thought…the fear is mother to the event.”2.Once again, choice is everywhere, calling for a decision between choosing love to guide us or fear to guide us. “Man is not born slave or free, but creates himself as one or the other through free or voluntary action.”3.Fear, again, holds us back from achieving so much. We are afraid to show that we care, afraid to open our hearts, and afraid that we may appear vulnerable. The irony in this is that when we really care about the individuals we lead, love multiplies. When people know, see, and feel that you care—they do the same. “Love really does keep on giving.”4.How do you give your love?With love,Maria
Walter Truett Anderson, Reality Isn’t What it Used to Be (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1990), p. 29.
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 125
Madan Sarup, An Introduction Guide to Post-structuralism and Postmodernism (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1993), p. 18.
Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal, Leading with Soul, p. 88.
Ordinarily every January we celebrate the great Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—his life, his work, and his love. His most famous speech, “I Have a Dream” inspired us toward action for equality, justice, and love. From his masterful and inspirational orations, I’ve selected 11 key quotes on leadership that encourage me even now.I have a dream, too. In fact, I am sure you too, have a dream… and I venture to guess that it is similar to my dream…a collective dream. That dream is the radical, necessary, ubiquitous dream of shifting from a world steeped in fear, to a love-based world.I want to share with you some inspiring words from Dr. King and a great leadership lesson in the message:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Remember, it ALWAYS comes back to love, so why not just start with love?“Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” As leaders, we must step out and up on faith, because what else do we REALLY have?“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” The time is NOW to return to our spiritual compass, guidance, and Source.“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Again, simply, LOVE.“A man can't ride your back unless it's bent.” Stand firm, erect in your power, and do not succumb to the fear of victimhood.“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” The call of a love-based leader…to serve others.“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Love-based leaders continue to grow, learn, and live in wisdom.“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.” Forgiveness, to give it and receive it is the POWER of LOVE.“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” Speak up and out; show up and lead.“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” DO NOT die with the song of passion still in you.“The time is always right to do what is right.” … and the time is always right to love.
As always, I love to hear from you. What would you say is your favorite quote on love? Tag me on Facebook!With love,Maria