Great Leaders Are Full

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 are 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.When we find this connection with others through mindfulness, we gain a deeper understanding of each other and of ourselves. Of course when we do, we are mind-full of their presence in the moment. We also understand ourselves better when we connect with others. It is 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.Not only is a mindful practice one that provides clarity, vision, connection, and beauty, but being present in the moment also confers 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.How do you know when you’ve really been heard?With love,Maria

The Benefits of Complaints

So often, when we hear the word, complain, those of us who have worked in customer service bristle! However, complaints are not always a bad thing – sometimes complaints can be quite valuable. When we shift our perceptions from negativity to a positive frame, we may actually welcome complaints…well, sometimes!Complaints can be beneficial because:

  • Complaints can give you information you may not otherwise have. Sometimes we can’t see the forest through the trees, in other words, we may be too close to the situation to see problems or issues.
  • When we receive complaints, we receive information. Let’s face it; often times some information is better than no information. When people take the time out to complain, that means at some level they care! If they were complacent or indifferent about you or your organization, they would say nothing.
  • If the complaint doesn’t come to you, it doesn’t mean the complaint is not being shared with someone else…perhaps shared with someone else with whom they are now doing business!The complaint gives you an opportunity to correct the situation. Contrary to popular belief, ignorance is not bliss.

Think about this: When people do share a complaint with you, they are actually saying:

  • I value this relationship.
  • I hope to continue this relationship.
  • I am presenting this problem to you because I care.
  • I know you can fix this.

What are your thoughts about complaints?With love,Maria

Laughter is Underrated

Laughter is completely underrated. Laughter is our heart’s outpouring of love. We know laughter is contagious, yet it is powerful medicine. Leadership use of laughter is like a power-charged tool with many uses.One of the most compelling benefits of laughter is shared, joyous connection. Comedian Victor Borge said, “Laughter is the closest distance between two people.” He is right; laughter connects us at deep level, which is why it is so contagious. Laughter moves beyond the superficiality of words right to our souls, moving all pretense and guard aside.I’m always amazed at the extreme power of laughter; people laughing just in response to someone else’s laughter. I remember a time when my husband, daughter, and I were watching a silly movie. The premise was a bit far-fetched, but we liked the actor, Bill Murray, in the film. He inherited a circus elephant and wanted to take it across country to sell it to a zoo. In one scene, he was driving an 18-wheeler, which he did not know how to drive, with the elephant in the trailer. In the cab, he had several boxes of candy that he was feeding to the elephant, since he didn’t know what else to feed the animal and of course he experienced one series of hysterical mishaps after another!I laughed so hard—it was one of the funniest scenes I ever saw! What was even funnier was how hard my husband and daughter were laughing at my reaction. They did not find the scene as hysterical as I did, but my deep belly, soulful laughter was so contagious that all three of us were rolling on the floor, in tears. Laughter goes to the core, infecting those within its path.When was the last time you had a good, deep belly laugh?As always, I love hearing your stories!With love,Maria

Leadership Choices Today are Tomorrow’s Results

“Yesterday was the birth of today. Today is the birthplace of tomorrow.” ~ Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye spoke those words at the Motown 25th Reunion show that aired on television in 1983. Simple words with a profound message.Today, many of our organizations are spiritually bankrupt, halls walked by zombies, the living dead. The grim reaper has become the human resources director handing out yet another layoff notice, or the boss giving you yet another task because someone else has left the company. Too many organizations discourage deeper forms of communication, emotions, and intimacy, opting instead for superficiality.If we continue down this path, the same path that got us here, we are doomed to fail. Boleman and Deal stated in Leading with Soul, “Spiritual bankruptcy ultimately leads to economic failure. The deeper cost is creating a world in which everything has a function yet nothing has any meaning.”Life gives us many opportunities to learn lessons and if we fail to learn them the first time, we get the opportunity to experience the lessons again and again until we learn them.George Bernard Shaw wrote, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” If we want progress, abundance, and new way of life then, we must as Gandhi stated, “Be the change we wish to see in the world.”Instead of following a path full of limitations, let’s construct a path illuminated with choice and abundance.With love,Maria

Psychological Contract

I’ve been working with a city government who is going through some pretty significant changes. They are going through a major re-organization, and of course, some people are experiencing layoffs.I was coaching a department director whose position may be eliminated. He was very uneasy about his future and even more importantly, he was devastated at the thought of his thirty years of service suddenly ending. He thought the City would take care of him in exchange for his tri-decade loyalty. He felt extremely let down, devastated, and was shocked that the City he loved so much would do this to him.Enter, the psychological contract. We often times enter into a psychological contract with our employers unconsciously. These contracts are built on unspoken expectations. We’re not even aware that we’ve formed these contract. But don’t let that fool you…just because we are not aware of these psychological contracts, does not mean they don’t exist.To the contrary - the greater the lack of awareness we have around these contracts, the greater the hold it has on us.Our psychological contracts are like a love affair. We give so much to our organization in this relationship. We work hard for this relationship. We don’t sleep, we hardly make time to eat, and we are almost always thinking about this relationship. How can we give more? How can we please more?When there is a breach in the contract, the employee/employer relationship can quickly erode and this is where disengagement sets in. It’s like a break up. Our expectations were not met.We need to manage expectations with ourselves and our team members. We can do this upfront with interviewing, onboarding, reinforcing it during orientation and training, and periodically throughout the year.A very simple expectation could be that I’m going to give my all to this organization, my expertise, my experience, and my knowledge, and in return they are going to give me a paycheck every two weeks.Hmmmm that simplifies it.When did you experience a breach in your psychological contract? How did you handle it? As always, I love to hear from you.With Love and To Your Success,Maria

Wakeup Call!

When sleeping women wake, mountains move. ~ Chinese proverbI love the power of this statement. I would like to expand it to read, “When sleeping people wake, mountains move.”The most obvious interpretation of this is when we get into our day with focused attention; we get a lot of work done.But ahhh, as we know, Chinese proverbs go much deeper, and so do I, so let’s get right to it!When we “wake up” from unconsciousness, we move obstacles and barriers to love – also known as fear and ego. Our fear and ego sometimes feels like mountains. The only way to “move” the mountains is to eliminate the fear and ego with the supreme power of love.We can only know the truth of love with consciousness.It is time to set the alarm – this is a wakeup call! Good morning mountain movers.What practices do you do to stay “awake” and conscious? I always love to hear from you and sharing your insight.With love from your fellow mountain mover,Maria

Rage Age

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:

  1. Getting support from senior leaders to change their cultures.
  2. Walk the talk, model the behavior you want to see.
  3. Coach your executive leadership team, department directors, managers, supervisors, and employees on how to be civil and respectful of each other.
  4. 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 Makes Greatness in Leadership?

Great leadership is highly sought after. These are the three qualities that I think are most important. What would you say are yours?With Love and To Your Success,Maria

Let Freedom Ring

Happy Independence Day to all of my fellow Americans!Today is a day that we celebrate life’s freedom with gratitude. I have a very long list of life’s freedoms for which I am grateful. Topping that list is my ability to make choices.And we always can make a choice…always!Dr. Viktor Frankl, one of my greatest mentors, was a brilliant psychiatrist captured by the Nazis and imprisoned in a series of concentration camps. His notes of his work and all of his possessions were seized. Stripped of everything, literally and figuratively, he was given a number to replace his name. “The experience of camp life shows that man does have a choice of action,” Frankl stated in Man’s Search for Meaning, “Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.”Dr. Frankl realized this truth when he wrote, “What alone remains is ‘the last of human freedoms’—the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.”Those are very wise and applicable words then, and today. When we place ourselves in a victim role, we are victims. We do create our own realities. However, we have a choice in how that reality looks, as co-creators. We can choose to create a different perception, a different reality.Let freedom ring!With love,Maria

Impact of Fear

What impact has fear had in your life?Head over to my Facebook and post your thoughts!With Love and To Your Success,Maria

Strategic Doing

We just completed the season for local government strategic planning. I’ve seen and used many different strategies for the strategic planning process. Brainstorming sessions are great fun, looking at possibilities. As we start to drill down our brainstorming into goals, hopefully actionable, SMART goals, the more real our planning becomes. Stating the goals, listing the objectives, and identifying the milestones are all necessary elements to your strategic plan.I’ve see so many great plans brought to this point. Strategic plan done, check that box! However, the plan means nothing if there is not strategic doing.Strategic doing is where the real work begins. We need to pull the plan off of the shelf and put the pedal to the medal. It is time to start doing the strategy. The strategy I find most effective in this action planning process is:

  1. Start with the end goal in mind. For example, if you were to complete Project A in 12 months, determine what success looks like at the completion of that goal.
  2. Next, determine what needs to be done in month 11 to reach your goal in 12 months.
  3. Then determine what needs to be done in month 10 to reach month 11 deliverables.
  4. Determine what needs to be done in month 9 to reach month 10 deliverables.
  5. Continue this process until you’ve identified the necessary actions for the current month.
  6. Identify who is responsible for each of the deliverables needed each month.
  7. Agree to how reporting will be communicated and how often.
  8. Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate! Make sure to celebrate the small wins along the way as well as the big wins at the completion of your goal. This keeps energy up and focus tight.

As always, I love to hear from you. What are some tactics you use for strategic doing?With Love and To Your Success,Maria

Employee Engagement

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

Better Late Than Never

Several years ago, I had a tremendous learning experience regarding forgiveness.My mentor, a consultant hired by our corporate office specifically to mentor me for one year, leveraged the difficulty in the relationship I had with our division general manager to his advantage. By indicating that he was still needed beyond his contract (due to the strained relationship between the division general manager and me), he prolonged his lucrative consultant income for another two years.I was eventually relieved of my managerial role and the consultant continued his monthly visits to manage and lead my department. I was hurt and resentful. I became exhausted carrying this load of pain and then I finally realized that holding this anger was not honoring or serving anyone, least of all, me.After reconnecting with my spirit, I knew that I had to forgive him. The next time he was in town, I apologized for my behavior and told him that I forgave him for his part in reinforcing the wedge between the divisional general manager and me.The immediate sensation I had was lightness. I could hardly believe how physically light I felt, and I remember holding on to the edge of the desk as it felt like I was going to float away. I was nearly giddy with delight and wondered what had taken me so long to get there.What is keeping you from forgiving someone or yourself? The weight and burden are only hurting you. Free yourself with the amazing gift of forgiveness.Better late, than never…With love,Maria

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

The Bull S#%T About Power

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

Words, Words, Words

Words are powerful.Recently in the news, we see yet another celebrity immersed in backlash for words spoken. True, as Maya Angelou stated, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It is those words that we speak that create such an emotion-filled response.Thoughts are powerful, but only because thoughts are steeped with words and stories we tell.As leaders, we have a huge responsibility to be thought-filled of our words, the vehicle, by which we communicate.Let’s not just be conscious and strategic in the words we don’t say, but even more responsible in the words we do say.Do your words lift up or pull down?Do your words encourage or diminish?Do your words inspire or de-motivate?Are your words love-fueled or your words fueled by fear?Remember, leadership is powerful—use your power wisely.With love,Maria

Go Forth and Delegate

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:

  1. Explain the need for delegating, including the reasons why you selected that person to complete the task.
  2. Clearly set the objectives defining responsibility, level of authority, and deadlines.
  3. Develop a plan to achieve objectives, resources, and give the authority necessary to obtain those resources.
  4. Establish an accountability plan with checkpoints.

Which step is trickiest for you?Now go forth, delegate, and prosper!With love,Maria

A Leg Up On Legacy

We all leave a legacy, whether by choice or unconsciously. So why not intentionally create the legacy? Do you really want someone else to define your legacy? Meaningfulness, is feeling a part of something bigger, as big as a legacy.The yearning for something more is evident in our society. Work-related illnesses are on the rise, and stress reduction workshops are everywhere. Proof of peoples’ desire for a more spiritual and holistic life is on grocery store shelves, in advertising, and in kitchens and baths across America.Spiritual practices such as yoga, prayer, meditation, and aromatherapy are creeping into offices and boardrooms, which are far from the practices that have guided American businesses since the 18th century. The evidence is out there—we want more!I invite you to discover a model of leadership that can help you realize meaning, abundance, and can inspire and motivate those around you in meaningful experiences. Let’s be a part of something bigger and let’s start now! Let’s be love-based leaders.With love,Maria

With or Without Meaning?

Did you know the majority of heart attacks occur around nine o’clock on Monday mornings?One study showed that the most common factor in these heart attacks was that the victims were people whose work had become joyless striving. In other words, they could not find meaning in their work, and their lives had become so out of balance that, one Monday morning, their bodies said, “You are not going to work today. Zap.”1I remember a discussion I had with the general manager of a regional division, discussing with him the importance of finding meaning in work for our employees and leaders. His response was, “I think meaning at work is over-rated.” Overrated? We spend the vast majority of our adult lives at work.One of the primary purposes of a leader is to inspire vision and motivation in those he or she leads, and few things are more inspiring and motivating than meaningful work.If we don’t have meaning…what do we have? We must know the “why” behind the things we do, we are at unrest and certainly unmotivated.As always, I welcome your input. What is the most meaningful aspect of your job and why?With love,Maria1. J. A .Autrey, & S. Mitchell, Real power: Business lessons from the Tao Te Ching (New York: Riverhead Books, 1998), p. 23.

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.