Capacity Building

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

Why Your Leadership Needs To Understand Personality Types

As we continue our understanding of leadership, today I want to expand our Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, by discussing the importance of understanding personality types in the workplace.Now, we’ve been hanging out together for a while and I just have to ask, Are you a square? No, not that kind of square!Maybe you’re a circle or a triangle?We can identify our personality tendencies with some simple geometry. Yikes - no formulas I promise!We are multi-dimensional people and have many sides to us. However, we have natural tendencies that we can relate to one or two specific shapes.It’s important to have representation of all of these shapes on your team and in your organization to bring different perspectives and ideas for problem-solving, and creating.As always, I love to hear from you. What shape do you identify with the most and what shape value do you bring to the table? What is the most challenging shape to work with and how have you learned to leverage those unique qualities of each personality type?With love,Maria

Coloring the Lines of Leadership

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

You are Branded!

Branding and image consulting are terms we’ve no doubt heard, typically in the context of marketing. Have you thought about your brand? No, I am not talking about the company for which you work—I am talking about YOU!What is your brand, your leadership image? Are you respected because you’ve earned it or are you feared because of your title? What is the first thing your people think about when your name comes up?Some of us may say that we don’t care about what others think about me. Really, is that really true?As leaders, our primary task is to motivate and influence others toward a vision and/or goal. If others are not buying our brand, then we don’t really have followers.How can we consciously create our leadership brand? Follow these 5 simple steps:

  • Intentionally determine what you want your brand to represent.
  • Reverse engineer the steps necessary to develop and create that brand image.
  • Be accountable to doing the work – find an accountability partner or coach who will be honest about your progress and a resource when you are stuck.
  • Be vulnerable and do spot checks with others to see if you are on the right track (in other words—ask!).
  • Celebrate your successes along the way.

Please share your progress and aha’s! I love hearing from you.With love,Maria

Is the F-word Killing Your Organization

I spoke at a professional organization state conference, SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) about the destructive nature of the f-word… FEAR in our organizations.In my presentation, I incorporated some very important statistics from a survey conducted by SHRM at the national level. I revealed some serious challenges that our local and global organizations will likely face over the next ten years. Here are some of the highlights from that study:

  • Top 3 challenges are retaining and rewarding the best employees, developing the next generation of leaders, and creating a corporate culture that attracts the best employees
  • 43% of HR professionals indicated that obtaining human capital (us) and optimizing human capital investments would be their biggest challenge
  • Most critical competencies include business acumen, organizational leadership, relationship management, and communication
  • Most effective tactics to rewarding employees include flexible work arrangements; creating an organizational culture where leadership demonstrates and emphasizes trust, open communication, and fairness; opportunities for career advancement; demonstrating commitment to employee development; and providing meaningful work with clear purpose in meeting organization objectives.

This is an eye-opening list as the focus is all about the people: developing the people, creating a culture that lifts up the people, and providing the environment for people to connect their head and heart. All of this points to the need to tap into their passion with meaning.However, one seemingly small act of injecting fear into the culture can have the effect of killing innovation, loyalty, and growth in a split-second. Fear is tricky because it has been the corporate “go-to” strategy for years, and we learned and we were taught how to “lead” with fear. True, fear will motivate people in a direction. But, be aware that using fear as a motivational tool comes with a price. The price of using that nasty “f-word” fear is:

  • Robs people of potential
  • Barrier of individual and organizational performance
  • Affects individual and organizational quality of life
  • Shifts focus away from productivity and innovation to CYA (cover your assets)
  • Destroys trust and loyalty
  • Causes silence and uncertainty. Just because people are not saying anything does not mean they have nothing to say.
  • Kills long-term motivation and commitment
  • Increases stress
  • Grows resistance
  • Shuts down ability to think creatively, collaborate, and bring passion/meaning to the job
  • People check out (both literally and figuratively)

Is fear killing your organization?With love,Maria

Leadership in Local Communities

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?

Comfortably Uncomfortable

As a leadership coach, I am always excited when a powerful question or statement crosses my path or better yet, slams me in the face! Yesterday, I had such an encounter. Seth Godin got my attention when he stated, “If you’re not uncomfortable in your work as a leader, it’s almost certain you’re not reaching your potential as a leader”. He was talking about the discomfort we sometimes feel as a leader and furthermore, when we identify the discomfort, we’ve found a place where leadership is needed. His list includes:

  • Standing up in front of strangers
  • Proposing an idea that may fail
  • Challenging the status quo
  • Resisting the urge to settle

I DO love those moments that move me out of my comfort zone and into what I call a “seat squirming” state. I know when I start squirming, I am onto to something, and that something is usually growth!Of course, I also like to state things in a positive frame, so my list may look something like:

  • Motivating people in the direction of a shared goal
  • Creating and innovating with others, living in a synergy zone
  • Thinking outside the box and trying something that “hasn’t been done before”
  • Pushing myself and others to live in creativity and authenticity, even when it may be more work

My list not only feels good when I put it on, but it moves me beyond comfort to electric energy.What are your thoughts? Comfortable? Discomfort? What would you add to the list?As always, I truly appreciate your insight.With love,Maria

Light Of Leadership

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 can you be a light to others today?With love,Maria

Prioritization In Life and Leadership

I know there is quite of bit of talk going around about balance. Unfortunately, the discussion only seems to pile on guilt because many of us are already aware that we are out of balance. The purpose of this post is not to engender guilt, but to help a miracle come into your life with awareness and practical strategies to regain order and balance.Let’s look to nature for our lesson in balance. Nature teaches us about seasons. Our life also has seasons. Sometimes our seasons are busy, other times our seasons may offer renewal, and sometimes, our seasons may call for hibernation. Seasons do not go on forever—there is always a change of season. Listen and learn this lesson from nature: you cannot indefinitely go on at a frenetic pace by sheer adrenaline; it is unnatural and could be extremely dangerous to you.Nature also teaches us that unless we shed the old way, we cannot begin anew. This is nature’s miracle—shifting. A caterpillar shifts to a butterfly, and the snake sheds its skin. We cannot move forward and look for something new if we don’t let go of the old; and we cannot experience the miracle of a different perspective or idea if we hold on to old and limiting beliefs.We spend a lot of time in leadership and management seminars discussing how to prioritize. Many of us have handled this lesson fairly well at work; but we forget the idea of adding balance to this equation.Like the balance of seasons, we can work at a fast pace for a while, meeting deadlines and seizing opportunities. Without looking at the bigger picture, however, we could end-up spinning our wheels on the perceived priority and everything else goes to pot. That is where order comes into play. Without order, we will continue to drop things, even with our priority list.What are your priorities for this winter? What are you doing to prepare for the next year?With love,Maria

Developing Extraordinary Leadership Through Simplicity

Taking a holistic approach to leadership, we want to develop our whole selves. As with our mind and body, it is important to take care of our soul.We need to nurture your soul with love, kindness, and depth. When we do not care for our souls, we end up with what Albert Schweitzer referred to as, “A sleeping sickness of the soul. Its symptoms are loss of seriousness, enthusiasm, and zest. When we live superficially, pursue no goals deeper than material success, and never stop to listen to our inner voices, we stunt our spiritual development.” How do you develop your spirit? Spiritual growth and development manifest through inspiration. Do what you love and you’ll find that you love what you do. Music, art, nature, and literature are a few of the paths for inspiration. What stirs your soul? For me, when I hear drumming—Native American drumming, Irish drumming, Kudo drumming, or nearly any type of drumming—my soul stirs. Looking at a beautiful sunset feeds my soul. When I listen to music that feeds the souls of musicians, it nourishes my soul. Watching cloud formations or the dance of a butterfly warms my soul.In their book, “The Spirituality of Imperfection”, Kurtz and Ketcham wrote, “Spirituality transcends the ordinary; and yet, paradoxically, it can be found only in the ordinary. Spirituality is beyond us and yet is in everything we do. It is extraordinary, and yet it is extraordinarily simple.”Listening to and honoring your heart’s call honors your soul, your core, and your very essence. When we are aligned with our soul, with our spirit, we are authentic, abundant, and at peace. Meaning is not a destination, but a way of life, like the air we breathe. There is no better way to achieve well-being and love for ourselves than aligning with our spirit.I would love to hear from you. What do you do to nurture your soul?With love,Maria

12 Transitions in Workplace Professionalism

Imagine for a moment, if we could harness the love we feel and translate that into our leadership. Now of course, I am not talking about romantic love. I am talking about universal love; the love we feel as one human to another. This love is honoring, valuing, and respecting each other. This is a love of Namaste, honoring the spirit of another.As leaders, we are taught to compartmentalize a love such as this. We are taught to remove ourselves from any emotion (including love) and be “professional” as if being professional makes us non-human or even worse, super-human. This practice, and many of us have gotten this concept down good, has propelled us in our careers, but also has left us empty.Emotional intelligence teaches us to recognize our emotions and manage them in healthy ways. Managing our emotions does not mean shoving them down and ignoring them. We know from experience this only gives our emotions time to grow and mutate into emotions that are exaggerated, misdirected, and sometimes manifest in disease and illness.Being professional does not mean being distant, aloof, uncaring, and impersonal. We are in a world of transition and change. We are in a world where many of us are creating new models for living. In this spirit and in the spirit of love, let’s create a new professionalism. Let's create a professionalism that stands for something powerful, serving, supportive, and love-filled.I am thinking a new professionalism includes these 12 areas:I would love to hear from you. How would you create a new professionalism?With love,Maria

Combining Leadership Theory With Action

As a professor and teacher, I understand the importance of theory. Theory gives us the foundation on which to build. As a coach, I understand the importance of action. Just as wisdom is the combination of knowledge and experience, success is the combination of theory and action.I work with many clients on action plans, the roadmaps to our success. We can have all the best intentions and theoretical plans in the world, but without action, we really don’t have anything. My strategic planning workshops are very popular for this very reason. We do not create gorgeous plans, we actually map out our action steps.Here are the 7 actions steps that will help you turn your plan into action:

  1. Write down your goals and remember to make them SMART goals. (Specific, Measurable, Aligned with your values, Realistic, Time-bound) It is important that when you are goal setting, you create SMART goals.
  2. List steps necessary to achieve each of your identified goals. You will need to do this for each goal as these steps are goal-specific.
  3.  Identify past success or strengths you have. This is a good reminder that you can accomplish this goal. The successes do not need to be related to your goal – only a reminder that you can do anything you commit to.
  4. List the people and resources you have available to support you. These are primarily your professional resources.
  5. Name any hazards, weaknesses, or blocks that could cause you to stumble. While I don’t like to spend a lot of time in the “what if” zone, it is important that we consider possible hazards before they may actually happen so we are not caught off-guard and throw in the towel.
  6. Identify the strengths, support, and resources available to you if you were to stumble and identify why you would turn to them. These resources may very well be personal ones that we could have a good cry with.
  7. Record the reasons and benefits that cause you to want to achieve your goals. This step is extremely important because this is your “why”. This is the step that connects our head with our heart. And we know that combination is unstoppable.

Review your goals each day and spend time in the morning and the evening visualizing yourself already achieving that goal. Can you see it? How do you feel? What changed for you in your life? When you sit with this image, the realization of your goal becomes stronger and more powerful.I would love to hear from you. What is the goal you are most proud of achieving?I can’t wait to celebrate with you!With love,Maria

Service Not Sales In Organization Leadership

Organizational and leadership models throughout history, and still today, are like authoritative kingdoms. The ruling king or queen sits on their throne (corner office in the executive suite) and the serfs and subjects (subordinates and “team”) support them in any way necessary. Oh, we have the right words today—team, collaboration, and empowerment—unfortunately, in many organizations actions do not match the words.We know consciously and unconsciously these models do not work; however, we do not know how to replace them. As always, we just simply have to turn away from fear and stare right into the face of love. In those beautiful eyes, we find our answers.Service paves the path of leadership. Through love and a love-based leadership model, we serve others, our source, and ourselves. To make this miraculous shift in our perception about service, we must consciously be aware of leading with a service-mindset versus a sales-mindset. Many leaders I know lead with a sales-mentality, seeking “buy-in” from those they lead. They obtain buy-in through persuasion, manipulation, and control. These techniques can be effective, but the leader will not get long-term commitment. A service-mentality shifts from, “What can you do for me?” to, “What can I do for you?” This is similar to the phenomenon in marketing and product development happening today. Find out what they want and we’ll build it replaces the old mental model of build it and they will come. Leadership focus is on service, instead of self-interest.Uh-oh, the ego is not going to like this!Exactly.When leaders shift from sales to service-mindsets, organizations shift from a kingdom culture and hierarchical structure to community. I am not describing Utopia or something found only through rose-colored glasses; I am describing what can be, and what is in some organizations and communities. By serving and giving, we are more successful. The more we give, the more we receive; the more we serve, the more we are served. This again demonstrates that to wherever you put your attention, you will manifest that.How do you demonstrate service instead of sales?In loving service,Maria

Why Leaders Thoughtfully Choose These 5 People

Jim Rohn, the great businessman and motivational leader stated, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” What does this say about us?When we think about this statement, we may immediately go to the literal, physical people in our circle. This concept is realized when we start taking on new patterns in our speech, behaviors, and mannerisms. Have you ever noticed someone in your circle saying a new expression or demonstrating a different laugh? You realize very quickly exactly where they picked that up when you meet their friend or colleague and you hear the same inflection, term, or laugh. We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.What makes up our time with these five people in our circle?Do we spend the day criticizing and gossiping? Are we sharing ideas; are we planting seeds of fear and destruction? Are we raising others up, nurturing minds, bodies, and spirits? Do we spend time with our five learning, growing, expanding? The choice, as always, is yours.I love being alive at this time in history. I can spend time with many of the great thought leaders—dead or alive by connecting with these people through technology. I can pop in a CD, DVD, or plug into my iPad and watch or listen to a lecture, presentation, or audio book and hear these mentors and teachers anytime I want! I can CHOOSE my circle of five and never leave my home or office…so can you. We are the average of the five people we spend the MOST time with.When we think about our circle, the people around us with whom we spend our time, we may find that we need to make some changes.If you find yourself surrounded by people who do not treat you well, it may be a reflection of how you treat yourself. Ouch! I know this is difficult for some of us to hear, but the truth is that our outward reality is a reflection of what is happening internally.The really great part of this reality is the awakening of awareness that comes when we fully understand this concept, because with the understanding comes the power of choice! We can choose to treat ourselves with more respect, honor, dignity, value, and love.When we stand in that power, bathed by authenticity and love, we begin to radiate that energy outward. Initially, those who have treated us poorly may rear-up and lay it on thick to get the same old response from us. However, when we stand firm in truth, authenticity, and love, those people will back down or leave our circle.This is what setting boundaries is all about – loving, honoring, respecting, and valuing ourselves in truth and authenticity. By our behaviors, actions, and attitudes, we tell the world how loved and blessed we are.Then…an amazing phenomenon happens…we start attracting people to us that also love, honor, respect, and value us!As always, the choice is yours.I would love to hear from you. What qualities do you look for in your circle of five?With love,Maria

The Right Side of Re-Connecting

Ask any successful leader or business owner what one of the most critical factors is for success today, and you will hear creativity. Now, more than ever, innovation and creativity are sought-after skills in organizations for their leaders. Old models steeped in scientific management and mechanistic thinking no longer serves our needs in this new era. As Einstein so eloquently reminds us, we must stop the insanity and look toward new models and creative ways of leading people and doing business.For decades, our American culture has devoted most curriculum and teaching models to developing the left-hemisphere of the brain. This is the part of the brain for logic, linear and sequential thought processes. This style of learning and development continued into colleges and universities where the mechanistic model of managing business and leading people remained a primary focus. Perhaps a nod to the “soft skills” of leadership appeared in the curriculum, but not until quite recently are we teaching these skills to leaders.Many organizations now focus on teaching the soft skills in their leadership development programs because they realized a profound need for their leaders to have these skills in this new era. The soft skills to which I am referring are connecting with people, motivating teams, inspiring followers, creative thinking, innovation, quick decision-making and big-picture vision (strategic thinking and planning). Each one of these skill sets requires right-brain thinking.The right hemisphere controls the left side of the body, is simultaneous, specializes in context, and synthesizes the big picture. Clearly, the ability to think quickly in today’s fast-paced world requires right hemisphere functions. I am not advocating tossing aside the value of the left-brain—our entire brain is a gift from God. I am simply seeking to focus on development of our right-brain functions. At this point, most of us have fairly well developed left hemispheres. After all, we have spent most of our lifetime educated and trained to use our left-brains. What we now need as leaders is to develop and reconnect with the processes of our right brains.Lateral thinking is perception thinking, looking for creative and innovative ways of viewing the world. This process is not constricted by boundaries and limited beliefs; it challenges us to move into expansiveness, unlimited possibilities, and abundance thinking.Are you ready for the shift?With Love,Maria

Why Developing Thick Skin Is Not Necessary

Someone asked me the other day, “How can you develop a thick-skin at work?” My initial response, “Develop a strong heart.”Growing up, I was often teased because of my over-bite. Called many names at school, I came home frequently collapsing into a pile of tears. My mother would tell me to ignore the bully’s hurtful comments and eventually they would stop. I did experience some truth in this, but what was even more impactful, were her words, “Maria, you are beautiful, they just don’t see it.” Of course, she was referring to my inner beauty. I knew my outer beauty would catch up once I got braces!Why is it that as adults we still feel the need to toughen up and not let other people’s words hurt us? Could it be that we forgot our inner beauty?If so, do not worry. Reclaiming our inner beauty and strengthening our heart is easy to do. Developing a strong heart begins with self-love.Practice these ten steps and in no time, you will not need a thick skin because you will have a strong heart:

  1. List your strengths. Next to each one, identify how you may leverage your strong points.
  2. Create an action plan for personal and professional growth.
  3. Reconnect with your intuition.
  4. Do something creative every day.
  5. Spend time in stillness each day.
  6. Get enough sleep. Six to eight hours are recommended for optimum health.
  7. Move your body every day. Some days it may only be walking to the mailbox.
  8. Eat foods that nourish your body in healthy ways.
  9. List at least five things each day for which you are grateful.
  10. Find ways to help others see their greatness.

What are some additional ways you strengthen your heart?With love,Maria

Teach To Reach Transformational Leadership

I love the Buddhist saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” In my many years of teaching formal courses at the university level, I am a student right along with the class I am teaching. When I teach, I learn. I have yet to teach a class where I have not learned something from my many teachers, also known as my students. We are ever changing in this world and the cycle of learning and teaching never changes, unless of course we find ourselves closed off from learning. In order to be a good teacher, we must first be a good student.As we teach, we must remember that we are not transmitting information—we are transforming lives. That may sound a bit dramatic, but that is exactly what good teaching does; it transforms. Transformation comes about through many different forms: motivation, persuasion, mobilization, influence, and of course miracles.When we teach, we are in essence saying, I care about you, you are important, and I want to help. Wow, who wouldn’t be motivated forward with that type of message?Motivation also comes from demonstrating belief in others. Teaching affords us an opportunity to build esteem and self-efficacy. Think of Maslow’s needs hierarchy of needs; esteem and self-actualization are the top highest levels. Teaching and learning meet both of the high order needs for yourself and for those you teach.Through the process of teaching, we build trust when we facilitate teaching with a learner-centered approach. Remembering that we are not just transferring information, but transforming others, we teach according to the needs of others. I use the same approach when I do training, coaching, or motivational speaking. First, I discover the needs of the audience and tailor my work to meet those needs. Of course, I provide resources and information to support their transformation, but first I must find out where they are now and where they want to grow.Effective teachers in a classroom setting know this and adjust their lesson plans to accommodate emerging needs that come up during instruction. We call these moments, teachable moments, when we can seize the opportunity and use it as a springboard for learning.A Native American proverb illustrates this concept, “Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.” Once we identify the needs of the people and address those needs, then learning occurs and the outcome is performance.So remember this TEACH acronym:

Time – Take the time to invest in the development of others.Empathy – Have empathy for those you teach, respecting the place where they are at that moment.Awareness – Come into the teaching exchange with full awareness and presence.Care – Create a safe space for learning to occur that is filled with care and compassion.Help –Remember that when we serve others, we are truly love-based leaders.

I would love to hear from you. How do you teach in your leadership role? Who was your best teacher and why?With love,Maria

What Is Your Leadership Image?

Last year I went to the police station to be fingerprinted as a requirement for a volunteer project I was working on and on the way home, I saw a man driving a small electric car. When I saw the car, I assumed one of his objectives for buying it was to leave less of a carbon imprint. This got me thinking about imprints...What if we were to consciously craft and design the imprint, the “fingerprint” we desire on the world? How would this change our leadership?Our print, imprints, or impressions are the lasting effects of our attitudes and behaviors. We leave these impressions whether we are aware of this fact or not—the prints are still there.Are we leaving those we “touch” with feelings of encouragement, empowerment, or love? Or, are we impressing people with negativity, helplessness, or fear?At what point in time do we consciously design our leadership impression? Is it when we have 200 people to lead? Is it when we are preparing for retirement? Or, is it now, with our own life, leading ourselves? I love the old proverb, “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”Consciously creating our imprints and impressions increases our leadership influence and effectiveness. In fact, I had a trip to New York City with four days of meeting with over 70 media representatives including television producers, writers, agents, and editors. I gave 2-minute pitches to all of these people, which felt like speed-dating! This got me thinking about the impression we make in 2 minutes, and how we could possibly influence someone to take action.This is not a whole lot different than leadership. What sort of impression do we make with our leadership influence in 2 minutes? What kind of impression do we want to make? What is the lasting or lingering thought we wish to impart on someone?Follow these simple IMAGE steps to create a lasting, positive impression:

Integrity – Stand in your integrity, be honest about who you are and what you stand for, demonstrating this with your behavior.Mannerisms – Be cognizant of your body language. Are you open or closed? Are you inviting? Are you demonstrating confidence?Appearance – Does your appearance match the impression and image you want to portray? Show up in presence as well, remembering to practice active listening more than speaking.Greeting – Greet others with openness, kindness, warmth, and a smile. People do not always remember what we say to them, but they always remember how they felt when with us.

Enjoy the experience. We are more attracted to fun and joy than anything else.I would love to hear from you. What is the impression and image you wish to impart? What immediate step can you take today to reinforce or refine this image?With love,Maria

What Uniform Do You Wear?

I flew to Philly to participate in a conference where I met up with my brother-in-law Johnny, a Colonel in the Marine Corp Reserves. We had a great dinner and were greeted warmly by everyone in our path. Johnny was in uniform, having just come from a funeral where he was a pallbearer. Strangers opened the door for him, sent over an appetizer, refused to accept his money for coffee at Starbucks, and thanked him for his service and his many sacrifices.This got me thinking…Johnny wore his uniform outwardly and consciously. How many of us, as leaders, are aware of the uniforms we wear? We are leaders and touch other people’s lives whether we are conscious of it or not.What messages are we giving to others by the uniforms we wear? Are they uniforms of service and value? Uniforms of greed? Uniforms of arrogance? Uniforms of fear? Uniforms of love? What is the story of your uniform? Joseph Campbell said, “We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” This struck me on several levels.First, I think that many of us are afraid to change or “get rid of” our current life, even if our current life is not serving us well. We are fearful of the unfamiliar and even if the current situation is unhealthy, dysfunctional, or negative, it is familiar – and that familiarity is enough to keep people stuck and paralyzed.Then I started thinking about the “old skin” and how this is such a beautiful metaphor of how we cover ourselves with a skin, mask, or armor. You know the old skin…it is the stories we tell and believe that keeps us stuck. The skin is also a mask that we sometimes hide behind, so we don’t really have to show up. The skin is also armor we put on to “protect” us from being hurt. The problem with armor is that nothing can penetrate from either direction, meaning we cannot send out love, compassion, or joy.While Joseph Campbell may have been referring to radical change, this rich quote is also applicable to small changes. Like I often tell my clients, sometimes only a minor shift or course correction is necessary. A ten-degree shift may be all we need to shed our old skin and start living the life waiting for us.What are you waiting for?Is it time to shed our skin, masks, or armor? Is it time to change our uniforms or take them to the dry cleaners? Or, is it time to redesign our uniforms? How would you design your uniform?I would love to hear from you. What uniform are you currently wearing and what is the uniform you would like to be wearing?With love,Maria

6 Steps To Self-Empowerment

I love the word empowerment, which means a state of being “in power.” According to Merriam-Webster, the word has three definitions:

  1. to give official authority or legal power
  2. to enable
  3. to promote the self-actualization or influence of

When we self-empower, we are the ones to give authority, enable, and promote the self-actualization of ourselves! We give ourselves permission to be the best we can be, to live the best lives we choose.Stepping into your power includes the following six actions:

  1. We must walk through the doors of awareness to begin any practice of self-growth.
  1. Identify any barriers that may hold you back, especially any negative self-talk or negative voices. List all of the negative thoughts that keep you from standing in your power and ask yourself if it is really true. Then ask yourself whom would you be without that thought? Design a plan based on your response.
  1. Find your voice. Is it hidden under a blanket of self-doubt, fear, or insecurity? Identify these gremlins and negative voices and divorce yourself from them.
  1. Identify any underlying beliefs you may have that no longer serve you and dismiss those to the wind.
  1. Give yourself permission. Like the great Nike ad, Just do it! Kick fear to the door and be the person you want to be. Be bold and be love. As Basil King said, “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.”
  1. Find a coach or accountability partner to work with.

One of my favorite quotes from Marianne Williamson describes self-empowerment:“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”Who are you not to be empowered?With love,Maria