Leadership Basics With Maslow

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:

  1. only unmet needs motivate,
  2. needs are hierarchical in nature, basic to complex, and
  3. 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

5 Types of Power in Leadership

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

Who Are You?

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

  1. Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal, Leading with Soul, p. 67.

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

Student of 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; 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

Challenge Your Perspective, Change Your Future

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?

Working with Uncertainty

We expect leaders, including ourselves, to have the answers. If we don’t have the answer to a leadership challenge, we may feel inadequate. These feelings, like inadequacy, may also include feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability. None of these feelings feel good to us, nor are allowed in the workplace, or so we’ve been taught.Really? Are we really supposed to never experience uncertainty as a leader? We are human beings, “hard-wired for struggle” as researcher, Brene‘ Brown states. We are not the Hollywood version of leaders —we are human. And with our humanness, we are sometimes—make that many times, uncertain.What do we do with this uncertainty? Well, we bury it of course. This strategy may work for us for a while, that is until it shows up again as illness, ulcers, or worse. Why do you think we are so stressed, obese, and addicted? It is because we bury and numb our feelings.The interesting thing about numbing is that when we numb our “bad” feelings such as uncertainty, vulnerability, doubt, and fear, we are also numbing our “good” feelings of joy, peace, and gratitude.Another important aspect to know about uncertainty and vulnerability is that this state is where creativity, joy, and beauty are found. Walking through the door of uncertainty and vulnerability is full of endless possibilities because this is the location of our true, authentic self.How do we work with uncertainty and vulnerability without going crazy? Follow these five steps to support you during these times:

  1. Embrace uncertainty and vulnerability. Reach into it and pull up and out all of the fear, anxiety, and doubt. Burying and numbing will only allow it to surface again, so lean in, feel those feelings, and then release.
  1. Stay present. Don’t worry about the future or live in the past. The only moment you have is the present one, so why waste it?
  1. Stay in your own lane. When we start to compare ourselves to others, we set ourselves up for failure, not because we cannot be as successful as someone else can, but because we cannot be anyone else. What I can be is the best version of me, and what you can be is the best, highest self you can be.
  1. Practice gratitude. Nothing else will bring you into the present faster than gratitude.
  1. Be loving and truthful with yourself and with others.

Remember that uncertainty and vulnerability is the birthplace of truth, authenticity, creativity, and beauty. When was a time you felt uncertain and conquered your fear? As always, I love to hear your thoughts.With love (and vulnerability),Maria

2 Steps to Peace In The Workplace

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

Creating an Ideal Culture - Part 2

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

Using Your Backbone Not Wishbone

We have so much we want to do and accomplish as leaders. We dream, create, plan, review, plan some more, and tweak, tweak, tweak. Is this perfectionism or is this fear; and really, aren’t they both the same?Sometimes, we stand behind all of these activities to legitimately stay busy. However, these activities keep us behind the computer. There comes a time (probably now) that we need to step out from behind the computer and into the world of personal interaction. When we step out, then, we can really leave impressions, teaching, help, and love with those we met.My best example lately is when I chose to step up and out when I agreed to speak on a morning television talk show about my book, Love-Based Leadership: Transform Your Life with Meaning and Abundance. I love being on stage talking about my passion, teaching love and leadership, but I must admit this took me a bit out of my comfort zone. However, I coach and encourage others to reach their success; it is always just outside their comfort zone. It is time for me to put my backbone to work and not just my wishbone.Challenge yourself to commit to one activity outside your comfort zone each day (take the weekends off), watch your world change, and open before you.I love to hear your stories! Please share your wins of moving outside your comfort zone.With love and joy,Maria

Creativity Builds Connection

Practicing creativity not only helps leaders make quick, confident decisions, innovate, and problem solve; creativity also helps us interact with others at a higher level. Because creativity is a gift from God, planted in all of us, connecting energetically through creativity goes immediately to our souls. When we experience someone else’s creativity such as music, film, books, or art, we feel something deep down inside. That feeling is our energy of oneness, of our connection.While earning my undergraduate degree, I took an art appreciation course. During our study of abstract art, the professor had us describe how we felt while looking at each art piece. During the exercise, if any of us would say, “That looks like a ship,” she would mark points off our grade. This was an extremely valuable lesson to learn; she challenged us to use our other senses beyond our eyes, and stay in the creative side of our brain. Our logical side wanted to analyze the picture instead of conceptualizing the possibilities. I now do this practice anytime I experience art. I stay present and open to the beauty of an opera sung in another language through many senses beyond auditory. The creative energy moves from the actors to my soul, with complete understanding and clarity when I remember the lesson learned in that art appreciation course.Living in this creative zone is as beneficial for leaders as it is for artists. Observe artists at work, whether it is performing artists, painters, sculptors, writers, or designers. Artists are present in the moment of creating with razor sharp focus as the divine download fills the spaces of their mind, heart, and body.Pablo Picasso reminds us, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” The best way to start is do what we did as children—play. I had so much fun picking out crayons and a coloring book as an adult, although I purchased under the pretense of buying it for my niece! Let’s get the creative juices flowing with the abandonment of child-like play. Your play may include painting, drawing, Play Doh, dancing, dress-up, or whatever makes you smile.Let’s start today and create the world in which we live love. How do you get your creative juices flowing? I’d love to hear it – comment below!Love,Maria

Love is Stronger

This is my blog in the wake of last month’s insanity. Our children were killed on the other side of the world, our children on the other side of the country were slain, and our economies are in a political upheaval. And there were many, many other infractions to our brothers and sisters.

We must stop.We must stop the violence.We must stop the doomsday mentality.We must stop revenge.We must stop ignoring mental illness.We must stop pretending there is no darkness.We must stop destroying each other.We must stop destroying our planet.We must stop our apathy.We must stop our ignorance.We must stop our arrogance.We must stop creating an insane world.We must stop living in ego.We must stop choosing fear.We must stop sleepwalking.We must stop mindlessness.We must stop separation.We must stop pretending we are not connected to one another.We must stop pretending that we not connected to the Divine.

We must shift to a force stronger than greed, hatred, violence, revenge, and fear.And that other force…simply…love.Choose love.I’m in! Are you?With the intensity of divine love,Maria

5 Steps To Creating A Leadership Brand

I recently conducted some market research to learn from leaders how I can best support their leadership growth and development. I asked a series of questions and received great responses, food for thought, and feedback.When I spoke with a man in the military, he said one of the most important aspects that he looks for in leadership is “keepin it real”. OK, he is quite a bit younger than I am! However, this message is ageless and timeless.Most of us have a pretty good B.S. meter and can smell fake a mile away. This is especially important to us, as leaders, to tap into truth and stand in our authenticity. When we stand in authenticity, we stand in power. THAT is what makes us powerful leaders – authenticity.And let’s face it; there is nothing more authentic or real than love.When we lead with love and authenticity, we practice:

  • Truth
  • Mindfulness
  • Awareness
  • Non-judgment
  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Compassion
  • Service
  • Presence
  • Humanitarianism

Branding and image consulting are terms that we’ve no doubt heard before, 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 keepin it real? Are you respected because you’ve earned it or are you feared because of your title? What is the first thing your team thinks about when your name comes up?Some of us may say that we don’t care about what others think about us.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:

  1. Intentionally determine what you want your brand to represent.
  2. Reverse engineer the steps necessary to develop and create that brand image.
  3. 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.
  4. Be vulnerable and do spot checks with others to see if you are on the right track (in other words—ask!).
  5. Keep it real – Authenticity is a real attractor

I would love to hear from you. How would you describe an authentic leader, one who is keepin it real?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

Making Movement In Your Leadership Goals

We have so much we want to do and accomplish as leaders. We dream, create, plan, review, plan some more, and tweak, tweak, tweak. Is this perfectionism or is this fear; and really, aren’t they both the same?Sometimes, we stand behind all of these activities to legitimately stay busy. However, these activities keep us behind the computer. There comes a time (probably now) that we need to step out from behind the computer and into the world of personal interaction. When we step out, then, we can really leave impressions teaching, helping, and leading with those we met.Breaking out of our comfort zones may be different strategies for different people. For some of us we may need to just jump in water, or we may dive into the deep end, and for some of us, we may just put one toe at a time into the water. The key is to have some movement toward your goal. Success, transformation, and the magic is just outside of our comfort zone.Our movement outside of our comfort zone can start small. One of my clients began this move out of her comfort zone just by taking a different route to work and sitting in a different chair each time she met in the conference room.Here are some strategies to break through your comfort zone barrier:

  • Try something new (food, book topic, or music)
  • Attend a lecture or presentation on a topic you know nothing about (I did this recently and was fascinated with the learning)
  • Identify your habits and look at those habitual behaviors with fresh eyes to uncover the expiration date
  • Find a buddy or accountability partner – maybe even take on this project together for support
  • Be honest, loving, and patient with yourself as you embark on this journey

OK, here is the challenge: Challenge yourself to commit to one activity outside your comfort zone each day for 21 days and watch your world change, and open before you.I would love to hear from you. Please share your wins of moving outside your comfort zone so we can celebrate!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