Leadership Light

I love this quote by Edith Wharton, “There are two ways of spreading light…To be a candle or the mirror that reflects it.”In this season of light, I ponder what light represents in our lives and how that relates to our leadership. I love Edith Wharton’s perspective of spreading light, but what exactly does that mean?Spreading light comes in the form of lighting up a room. As leaders, we can light up a room with our presence; you know, by being fully present to others. We do this by listening without distraction and giving our full attention to those around us.We can also spread light through our attitudes and behaviors. We spread light through love, care, and compassion. Light takes away the darkness. We know that smiles are contagious and can be a great conduit to spreading light and love.As leaders, we can also be the mirror that reflects light. Through encouragement and support of those we lead, we see the light in their eyes, their behaviors, and in their attitudes. Mentoring those we lead and reflecting back their greatness is one of the most profound activities we can do as leaders.We also reflect light by “lightening” the load of others. We can help lighten the heaviness of others by supporting our teams literally and figuratively. We can support others in a variety of ways that don’t cost any money. Sometimes small acts of just listening, giving an encouraging word, or acknowledging others can be extraordinary and have lasting profound effects. Serving those we lead is an example of love-based leadership.Light in the darkness and lightening the load are profound ways we demonstrate love-based leadership. In this season of light, I wish you a blessed holiday season and a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.As always, I love to hear from you. How will you be a light to others today?With love,Maria

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

Dr. Martin Luther King On Leadership, Love, And Political Unrest

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

6 Steps To Effective Leadership Storytelling

One of the most effective ways to teach is through storytelling. Nietzsche stated, “The more abstract the truth you wish to teach, the more you must allure the senses to it.” That is exactly what storytelling does; it allures the senses.Throughout history, the art of storytelling demonstrates this powerful technique used to teach. Aristotle, Plato, Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Rumi, Gibran, Hemingway, Emerson, and even Bob Dylan and Smokey Robinson have allured us with their gifted storytelling. This clear form of teaching captures us through our feelings, connecting with us through our hearts.The emotional heart-tug we get with good stories heightens our attention and holds us captive. We are fully present in those captive moments of a great story, giving our undivided attention to the details. This technique presents an incredible opportunity for the learner to not only be present with full attention, but also to retain the information ready to call upon it when needed.An ironic yet valuable benefit of storytelling is that the audience (the learner) is present in the moment of learning and the story helps us prepare for future use of the content. When we learn from stories, we learn how they may relate to us. This is a critical element to successful storytelling: the ability to relate.When we teach through stories, we are essentially saying, “When Ann experienced this event, she felt ___________, and when she did ___________, she was successful. So when you feel ___________, try as Ann did and ____________, because you too may be successful!” This mental process the learner experiences helps them to remember the story concept because they are relating it to themselves.Identify a story you believe to be a good one and follow these six simple steps to practice the art of leadership storytelling:

  1. Describe the main characters. Include yourself because when leaders are humble, open, and willing to share stories portraying themselves as human, it helps to connect with their team.
  2. Portray the situation, challenge, or problem in detail. Explain what is at stake with the issue.
  3. Reveal the characters’ intentions, thoughts, and feelings with the situation. Also, express what their thoughts are with potential outcomes and how they feel about what is at stake.
  4. Explain the actions taken by the character, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. The more in-depth you are with the description of the actions, the more you may heighten the learner’s interest in the outcome.
  5. Discuss the tools that the characters used to take action. Include which tools worked and which ones did not. Keep in mind that the tools may be thoughts, perspectives, strategies, and so forth.
  6. Finally, share the outcome.

As always, I love to hear from you. What is the best story you’ve told about your leadership?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?

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

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