Chocolate, Rock-N-Roll & Leadership Awareness

In my experience, the words leadership and management are used interchangeably in the workplace. In the management and leadership classes I’ve taught over the years, we define those terms differently, while recognizing that leadership is a critical part of management.Like Forrest Gump’s mama, I have always believed that life and leadership are like a box of chocolates. Defining leadership as a component of management was like saying cocoa is a component of chocolate. While cocoa is the critical component in making chocolate, there is a process in taking the cocoa through critical steps before the chocolate is produced.Such is true with leadership—critical steps for leadership development are necessary. The first steps begin with awareness.Need another rockin’ example? Click here:We tell the truth to ourselves when we acknowledge our own imperfections. In one of my favorite leadership books, “Leading with Soul”, the authors Boleman and Deal stated, “To deny imperfections is to deny our humanity and to become disconnected from our soul.”Accepting our imperfections and taking the introspective, reflective journey, we travel to our core and find our authentic leader within.Try these 3 simple steps to start your deep dive into self-awareness:

  1. Keep a journal and start writing in it daily. When you make this part of your routine, you will find this time of reflection become a habit.
  2. Set aside a small amount of time each day – just 10 minutes to be quiet. Unplug, turn off, or sit in your car if you need to. In this stillness, we find profound awareness.
  3. When you notice an uneasiness like fear or worry and simply ask yourself, “Where is this coming from?” Once we learn how to acknowledge this feeling, we can choose to release it if it does not serve us.

I would love to hear from you. What do you suppose keeps us from our vulnerability and authenticity as leaders?With love,Maria

3 Ways To Build Leadership With Self-Awareness

I worked with a client who wanted to improve her leadership skills. She was very bright, had an MBA, and was in a mid to high-level leadership position in her organization. Her challenge was connecting with people. We started working, as I always do, with awareness. She was so joy-filled in her practice of awareness, equating this recognition to opening a beautiful gift, only to find another gorgeous gift waiting for her. She asked me why more people don’t know about living in a state of awareness. This was a great question.We must first be self-aware before we can begin effective, meaningful relationships with others. As a leader, awareness is the foundation on which to build your leadership skills. Don’t get me wrong, many leaders go about their day-to-day activities unconsciously leading, struggling, and wondering why it is so darn hard. The answer is that we must first effectively lead ourselves if we are to lead others successfully. Again, this boils down to self-awareness.Here are three steps to get started today.We do inventories of items before we order more. We assess our bank accounts before a large purchase, and we assess our employees before we begin appraisals. Why would we not assess ourselves in leadership roles with a deep dive into self-awareness? Awareness, like breathing, is essential to life, to living, and to leading. Without awareness, we’re just sleepwalking, unconsciously going through the motions of an unlived life.With self-awareness, we gain clarity of our values and of our vision with purpose and direction. We no longer sleepwalk through life. As leaders, our responsibility is to lead movement with vision and conviction, or we’re ineffective leaders. The beautiful aspect of this clarity is the meaningful way in which we lead, inspire, and motivate others.As always, I would love to hear from you. When was the moment when you became fully aware? What are some steps you use to stay in awareness?With love,Maria