Local governments are at a crucial time in their evolution. Over 60% of local government employees are eligible to retire within the next five years. Wow, 60%!And if that isn’t significant enough, only 6% of current college students are even remotely thinking about public service.That means that we are potentially looking at a 54% gap of local government employees. The implications of the impact that we could experience from this gap are pretty profound!This gap, in this current day, requires an urgent and profound shift in the way local governments do business. The shift that I am talking about is a paradigm shift in organizational culture in local governments.OK, simply what does this mean?It means that we need to change the workplace culture in many cities and counties. First of all, we need to create a culture that will attract and retain a new workforce. Forbes released a study a few years ago that found that 95% of people looking for employment believed that culture was more important than compensation. 95%!Social sites like Glassdoor and Indeed openly discuss organizational culture with employee ratings and comments. Just like an entire generation chooses restaurants, hotels, movies, and most purchases based on ratings and comments, please know that they too, are choosing employers based on ratings and comments.Cultures that encourage innovation, entrepreneurial thinking, flexibility, challenge, growth opportunities, and meaningful experiences are cultures that are going to attract a new generation of eager employees.I love this work that we do with local governments, strategically and intentionally designing fantastic workplace cultures. Local governments are ripe for innovation, entrepreneurial thinking, and meaningful experiences. Build it and they will come!Secondly, cities and counties couldn’t possibly deliver the same services in the same way with 50% less people. We need to find different, innovative ways to serve our communities.As always, I love to hear from you. How would you describe a great workplace culture?With Love and To Your Success,Maria
In both group coaching and individual coaching, I am consistently asked how to get along with people that we have conflict with – conflict with direct reports, peers, or our bosses. This is a universal problem for local governments and private sector employers as well.Here are three strategies that I’ve found to be extremely effective with my clients as well as myself:
- Find something you have in common with the person you have conflict with. Yes, there is at least one thing you have in common besides breathing. I had a boss once who had very ugly behavior with most of the team – equal opportunity ugly - and I dreaded any encounters that I had to have with him. I realized one day that he had a beautiful piece of art hanging in his office. When I asked about the artwork, his entire demeanor changed, and he became very animated discussing his love of art. Bingo! I too, know art (my father is an artist) and I immediately found a connection with him. I made it my mission each weekend to find a new art opening or exhibit in our city so that I could discuss it with him on Mondays. I wouldn’t say we became fast friends, but I will tell you that once we connected, our encounters were much more pleasant.
- Learn a bit about their hobbies or family’s hobbies. I had a client who tried everything to connect with another department director to no avail. When she found out that her co-worker’s son was in soccer, we realized that his name and the name of his team was reported in the Sports section of the local newspaper on a weekly basis. She watched for these articles and was able to establish a connection with her colleague discussing his son’s soccer games. They built a strong relationship that resulted in several inter-departmental collaborations.
- When you anticipate going into a conflict-ridden meeting, get there early and work the room. Meet people as they are coming into the room, shaking hands and making eye contact. While this may sound simple, remember that simple is profound. I used this strategy time and again when I facilitated HOA meetings and community planning meetings. It is more difficult for people to have ugly behavior with you when they feel a personal connection with you.
As always, I love to hear from you. What strategy have you done that reduced or neutralized conflict?With Love and To Your Success,Maria
We have found ourselves in the Rage Age. Incivility is almost becoming the norm. In a recent retreat I facilitated for a Mayor and City Council, incivility was a big part of our conversation. They’ve noticed an increase of incivility in the community, especially after the last major election. It was their belief that the frustration with the federal government and the incivility demonstrated during the last divisive presidential election has trickled down to the local government level.We certainly do not need to look far to see the incivility demonstrated on “social” media. I know of many people who stopped using Facebook and Twitter during the campaign because the conversation went from civil discourse to rage, rude, and abusive dialogue…in other words, the conversations became uncivil.We also see this in our own communities. A very good friend of mine recently was the victim of road rage. When I discussed this incident with a local sheriff, he explained that he wasn’t surprised by this act of rage as it is becoming much more apparent in this time of uncertainty. Wow, living in uncertainty contributes to rage.This incivility is also showing up in our workplaces. 18% of the 867 hate incidents reported in the 10 days after the election occurred in workplace environments. However, incivility in the workplace is not new. A study conducted two years ago uncovered contributing factors to this phenomenon at work. More than half of the employees said they were overloaded at work, 40% claimed they did not have the time to be nice, and 25% reported that their rude behavior was because that is the way their bosses behaved.According to another study released in August of 2016, the experiencing rude behavior reduces employees’ self-control and leads them to behave in a similar manner, which only prolongs the cycle of incivility. This type of behavior is compounded in workplaces that are perceived to be political in nature where co-workers act out of self-interest rather than what is best for the organization or the community in which they serve.When people don’t feel respected, productivity, innovation, and loyalty suffer. People just stop communicating with each other. They stop sharing and seeking information. This can be the death of an organization.Another study showed that people lose the ability to concentrate after being treated rudely. Cognitive skills dropped 30% in experiments that the researchers conducted.In many cases, rude, uncivil behavior stems from a lack of self-awareness. People who behave rudely often don’t realize the impact they have on others around them. We need to get those people who are acting rudely to understand what is going on around them and how they can improve their behavior.Start now, to create more civil workplace cultures by:
- Getting support from senior leaders to change their cultures.
- Walk the talk, model the behavior you want to see.
- Coach your executive leadership team, department directors, managers, supervisors, and employees on how to be civil and respectful of each other.
- Hold people accountable, regardless of their title in the organization.This change won’t happen overnight, but moving in the right direction with commitment and awareness will help to change workplace cultures to civil, productive, and innovative organizations.
As always, I love to hear from you. What steps have you taken to help create a civil culture?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
Are our minds, hearts, and spirits truly present? So often, we are replaying in our head the argument we may have had with a spouse, the traffic on the way to work, or the e-mail we just read. How different would it be if we really showed up—mind, body, and spirit? How would our mindfulness, with these three steps, affect our communication, our connection and relationships…our leadership?We’ve learned and studied so much about good communication skills and body language that many of us have mastered the art of “listening” with our bodies. Bodies leaning in, head nodding, eyes fixed on the other person, yet all the while our minds are anywhere but in that conversation.Great leaders, who communicate and connect, fill their minds with the person in front of them. We feel this connection when others are fully engaged in what we’re saying. We see it in their eyes, we feel it energetically, we know we are connected and drawn to that person and the moment. Presence is mindfulness. Mindfulness is found in the present, and when you are present, you show up.Here are three steps to practice presence and soon enough, you’ll definitely be showing up!Not only is a mindful practice one that provides clarity, vision, connection, and beauty, but also being present in the moment creates peace of mind. Living in mindfulness is living in peace. This is especially relevant in our current culture plagued with chaos, competition, rage, and fear.When we find this connection with others through mindfulness, we gain a deeper understanding of each other and of ourselves. We understand ourselves better when we connect with others. It’s not unusual with this deep union of souls, to see ourselves in those people with whom we feel connected. In a mindful state, empathy, connection, compassion, and equality surface to our consciousness. We see and feel each other as the same, without division and without judgment—we feel love.As always, I love to hear from you. What practices do you do to show up? How would you like to show up differently and what will you do to accomplish stronger presence?With love,Maria
Someone asked me, “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, don’t worry. Reclaiming our inner beauty and strengthening our hearts 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’ll have a strong heart:
- List your strengths. Next to each one, identify how you may leverage your strong points.
- Create an action plan for personal and professional growth.
- Reconnect with your intuition.
- Do something creative every day.
- Spend time in stillness each day.
- Get enough sleep. Six to eight hours are recommended for optimum health.
- Move your body every day. Some days it may only be walking to the mailbox.
- Eat foods that nourish your body in healthy ways.
- List at least five things each day for which you are grateful.
- Find ways to help others see their greatness.
I would love to hear from you. How do you strengthen your heart?With love,Maria
We must learn to honor ourselves with truth.By being honest with ourselves and not allowing others’ non-truths into our psyche, we acknowledge that we love and respect ourselves.By respecting ourselves, we don’t accept other’s false realities. Iyanla Vanzant recognized that, for most of us, it isn’t difficult to tell when someone isn’t being truthful with us; the challenge is how to call them on their non-truth. She suggested we reply, “While that may sound truthful to you, it doesn’t feel truthful to me.”What a great line! When we are truthful and transparent with ourselves, we remember our divine nature and we do not let anyone treat us with a lack of respect or dignity.I’d love to hear your experiences, tell me about a time where you had an expectation not met and you had to work in truth and transparency to solve the situation?With love,Maria
Let’s break open the lid on the belief that power must be kept tightly in order to be effective – BULL S#%T!Power, like abundance and love, multiplies when you give it away.That is why I cannot understand why leaders are so afraid to share power and empower others. Last week we discussed micromanagement, but I want to emphatically drive this point home:Power multiplies when you give it away – really!Boleman and Deal wrote in Leading with Soul, “When people have a sense of efficacy and an ability to influence their world, they usually seek to be more productive. They direct their energy and intelligence toward making a contribution rather than obstructing progress or destroying their enemies.” At the former Saturn automobile factories, employees were empowered to stop the assembly line any time they see something wrong. The employees held pride and ownership in their product and they became part of the quality control.Another benefit of shared power is reduction in conflict. We often suppress our feelings when we feel powerless. When this happens, our anger can only be contained for so long, then the conflict and anger comes spewing out, often times in a rage or sarcasm. Empowered people empower others. In a Love-Based Leadership organization, shared power equals shared ownership. You cannot have one without the other.How do YOU empower those around you?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
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
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
Do you remember the classic rock song by The Who, Who Are You? It is truly one of my favorites! Little did I know when I first heard this song in 1978 that I would ponder the importance of this question almost 40 years later.I recently returned from facilitating a leadership boot camp with Dr. Dorothy Bonvillain for the Sierra Vista Chamber of Commerce. We talked about the importance of leadership authenticity and vulnerability, which of course, begins with self-awareness and a ton of bravery.We tell the truth to ourselves when we acknowledge our own imperfections. As we move through our journey, “to deny imperfections is to deny our humanity and to become disconnected from our soul.”1Accepting our imperfections and taking the introspective, reflective journey, we travel to our core and find our authentic leader within.What do you suppose keeps us from our vulnerability and authenticity as leaders? As always, I love hearing what you have to say.With love,Maria
- Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal, Leading with Soul, p. 67.
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
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
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; 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 stuck 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.Remember this acronym:
- Time – Take the time to invest in the development of others.
- Empathy – Have empathy for those you teach, respecting the place they are in 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.
How do you teach in your leadership roles? I love hearing from you.With love,Maria
Perceptions are the stories we tell ourselves regarding what we see and how we interpret the world around us. Les Brown, one of the great 21st century storytellers said, “How people live their lives is as a result of the stories that they believe about themselves,” What are your stories?Do they serve you as your aspire to reach your highest potential? Do your stories lift you up or do they bring you down? Do your stories represent who you really are, your true essence?Let’s look at a possible story: If you greeted someone in the morning at work and he or she did not return your greeting, what would you think? Are they mad at you? Do you wonder all morning what you may have said to tick them off? Do you toss and turn that night because you’re afraid that when you laughed too loudly at something they said two weeks ago that you thought was a joke, but it turned out it wasn’t?Or what if the answer is simply that they didn’t return your greeting because they didn’t hear you. Or perhaps, they were distracted replaying a discussion they had with their teenager the night before.What are the stories that you tell yourself? These skewed perceptions can sabotage our relationships with others and our relationship with our self. If your stories no longer resonate with who you are, it’s probably time to create a new story. Change your perception and you change your world.The uncomplicated beauty in this lesson is that by standing in awareness and looking at our beliefs and thoughts, we can simply make a choice to keep them or release them.When we release those beliefs and thoughts that no longer serve us, we take back our power from fear to love, from negativity to positivity, from ego to Spirit. We see and understand perceptions and stand in our power to change those beliefs to experience miraculous shifts in our reality, lives, and work.As always, I love to hear from you. What story do you tell? Does it serve you or drain you?
So much of what we do as leaders is to create vision, motivate, and inspire others to reach that vision. We imagine what our organizations will be like when we are successful at meeting our goals, meeting the mission, and realizing the vision.I love John Lennon’s song, Imagine. When I look at lyrics from his famous song, Imagine, I am struck by the simplicity of his statements and the call to action.Living life in peace is possible in our world, our countries, our communities, our organizations, and our families. Peace begins with us, and feeling peaceful within ourselves. Of course, our internal peace is steeped in self-love.Feeling peaceful in our workplaces is sometimes challenging, but not impossible. To shift to peace, requires awareness and a commitment to live life in peace. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”Envision who you would be, living and leading your life in peace and hold that vision until it becomes reality.Yes, it is true…I am a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us.Now I would love to hear from you. What do you want to see in your organization, community, and world and what are you willing to commit to today to be the change you want to see?With love,Maria
Last week we talked about how the image of a tree can be applied to this love-based leadership concept. We began with the leaves and the physical aspects of an organization. I also approached the next layer of culture as the smaller stems and branches of the rituals and routines of a business. Today we pick up with part two of this series to explore how corporate culture can be achieved.As the branches thicken, closer to the trunk, we think of the strength that stories carry within organizations. These stories can be stories of love, care, and pride in the organization’s accomplishments or they can be stories steeped in fear and told in ways that leverage fear and manipulation.Stories told in organizations often become organizational legends. I remember working for a land developer when the CEO was flying in to visit us on his private jet with entourage in tow. A story that circulated among the staff was that he hated blue. Needless to say, none of us wore blue that day. I must admit that I found it odd that he “hated blue” since the company logo was a deep blue appearing on all of our signage, stationary, collateral material, and business cards. The legend was so strong and fear-based that not one of us tested the validity of the story.Positive stories often depict the humble beginnings and dedicated work of early employees, shared year after year with the newer employees. To our prospective buyers, I would offer the story of how our company grew and showed them our wall of photos of communities that we had developed to “tell the story” of our company’s history. This form of storytelling instilled confidence in buyers that we had experience, integrity, and credibility. In fact, we called this space our credibility wall.We also shared funny stories each year at the holiday party about humorous experiences we had with customers and with each other. Stories bond people together, connecting one another through shared experiences while meeting needs for belongingness and esteem.Next week, we will look at the bridge in our culture of the behaviors to our most deeply rooted values mental models and perceptions, the bridge of our beliefs. Don’t be shy, let me know your thoughts or questions!With love,Maria