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

3 Steps for Leadership to Build Mindfulness

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

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

10 Routines Leaders Need for Thick Skin

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:

  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.

I would love to hear from you. How do you strengthen your heart?With love,Maria

Why Your Leadership Needs To Understand Personality Types

As we continue our understanding of leadership, today I want to expand our Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, by discussing the importance of understanding personality types in the workplace.Now, we’ve been hanging out together for a while and I just have to ask, Are you a square? No, not that kind of square!Maybe you’re a circle or a triangle?We can identify our personality tendencies with some simple geometry. Yikes - no formulas I promise!We are multi-dimensional people and have many sides to us. However, we have natural tendencies that we can relate to one or two specific shapes.It’s important to have representation of all of these shapes on your team and in your organization to bring different perspectives and ideas for problem-solving, and creating.As always, I love to hear from you. What shape do you identify with the most and what shape value do you bring to the table? What is the most challenging shape to work with and how have you learned to leverage those unique qualities of each personality type?With love,Maria

Truth & Transparency

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

Nit-Picking The Details: Micromanagement in Leadership

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

You are Branded!

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

Change What?!

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

Let’s Talk About Love

So many people tell me about their fear-based organizations and how unproductive those workplaces can be. The key to shifting from fear to love is learning how to love with greater capacity than living in fear. Think of a scale with fear on one side and love on the other. Only when your love for something or someone becomes greater to you than fear, will the scale tip in favor of love. However, if your fear of something or someone is greater than your love for something else, then fear wins again.

  • Do I love and respect my desire to go for that position more than my fear of being rejected?
  • Do I love and value my goal to launch my own business more than my fear of stepping out and possibly failing?
  • Do I value the call to write my own book more than my fear of negative response?

Do you see how easy it is to put more value onto the side of fear? The great news is that we can learn a better way to lead by employing love-based strategies and techniques with tremendous, sustainable results that are more powerful than fear-based methods. We can learn to be irresistible leaders with the power of love. Let’s all get on the same page with the definitions of love and leadership about which I am speaking.

  • Love -- the universal definition of love: Honoring, caring, trusting, and respecting one human being to another.
  • Leadership -- inspiring one or many toward a vision.

Love is our natural state of being, while fear is learned. Because love is our natural state, it is also the core, the very essence of who we are. When we fully embrace this concept and integrate it with our thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors, we come into the perfect balance of warmth and courage. Warmth and love juxtaposed with courage and strength are not opposed values; in fact, they are completely related. The root origin of the word courage is the French word cuer, which means heart. We know that to be courageous requires fearlessness; and to be fear-less is to be love-filled.Let’s be those courageous, fearless leaders and shift to the other 4-letter word, love.With Love,Maria

Is the F-word Killing Your Organization

I spoke at a professional organization state conference, SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) about the destructive nature of the f-word… FEAR in our organizations.In my presentation, I incorporated some very important statistics from a survey conducted by SHRM at the national level. I revealed some serious challenges that our local and global organizations will likely face over the next ten years. Here are some of the highlights from that study:

  • Top 3 challenges are retaining and rewarding the best employees, developing the next generation of leaders, and creating a corporate culture that attracts the best employees
  • 43% of HR professionals indicated that obtaining human capital (us) and optimizing human capital investments would be their biggest challenge
  • Most critical competencies include business acumen, organizational leadership, relationship management, and communication
  • Most effective tactics to rewarding employees include flexible work arrangements; creating an organizational culture where leadership demonstrates and emphasizes trust, open communication, and fairness; opportunities for career advancement; demonstrating commitment to employee development; and providing meaningful work with clear purpose in meeting organization objectives.

This is an eye-opening list as the focus is all about the people: developing the people, creating a culture that lifts up the people, and providing the environment for people to connect their head and heart. All of this points to the need to tap into their passion with meaning.However, one seemingly small act of injecting fear into the culture can have the effect of killing innovation, loyalty, and growth in a split-second. Fear is tricky because it has been the corporate “go-to” strategy for years, and we learned and we were taught how to “lead” with fear. True, fear will motivate people in a direction. But, be aware that using fear as a motivational tool comes with a price. The price of using that nasty “f-word” fear is:

  • Robs people of potential
  • Barrier of individual and organizational performance
  • Affects individual and organizational quality of life
  • Shifts focus away from productivity and innovation to CYA (cover your assets)
  • Destroys trust and loyalty
  • Causes silence and uncertainty. Just because people are not saying anything does not mean they have nothing to say.
  • Kills long-term motivation and commitment
  • Increases stress
  • Grows resistance
  • Shuts down ability to think creatively, collaborate, and bring passion/meaning to the job
  • People check out (both literally and figuratively)

Is fear killing your organization?With love,Maria

The Other F-Word

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking at a Women in Action conference. I discussed the impact that the F-word is having on our relationships, families, teams, organizations, and communities.The F-word we discussed was FEAR. We can re-frame fear, looking at it from different lenses. One of my favorite ways to think of fear is as an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. At the conference, I also shared how leading with love guides us out of the fear in which we are deeply immersed, especially during these times of fear-based thinking and living. Love is still stronger than fear every day of the week.During a panel discussion with three extraordinary women leaders in the community from local government, financial services, and higher education, we discussed the other F-word – failure. When asked about their biggest failure, I was pleasantly surprised at their responses. Each one, in their own way expressed a belief that they do not experience failure. In fact, they do not even use that F-word!One stated that she does not believe in failure, only opportunities for growth. Another stated that she too, does not look at “mistakes” as failure. Instead, she simply acknowledges a mistake. Wow, how empowering this way of thinking is for learning, humility, and perseverance – all of which are outstanding leadership qualities! When we fully embrace “failure” as a growth opportunity and a decision that did not work out, it immediately frees us to think of another decision that could give us a better result.This is not rocket science.This frame is actually quite simple, and simple is profound. I am so grateful to be introduced to this liberating way of thinking. Oh, how I love to learn! Thank you ladies, for sharing your insight.How much different would our lives be if we would not get stuck in failure and only empowered by making a better decision?With love,Maria

Love and Trust

Love of Self, Love of Source, and Love of Others (the love-based leadership model) all require love, trust, and commitment to growth and development in the workplace. If trust and love are not ever-present, then fear-based decisions will result.“For centuries the human species has been discovering that it is the creator of its own reality, making the discovery, and retreating from it in disappointment (because the wizard [referring to the Wizard of Oz story] is not what we expected) and in fear (because the freedom the discovery brings is unknown and terrifying).”1.Fear is powerful; so powerful that it alone creates a false reality of that which is feared in the first place. Victor Frankl illustrates, “It is characteristic of this fear that it produces precisely that of which the patient is afraid…the wish is father to the thought…the fear is mother to the event.”2.Once again, choice is everywhere, calling for a decision between choosing love to guide us or fear to guide us. “Man is not born slave or free, but creates himself as one or the other through free or voluntary action.”3.Fear, again, holds us back from achieving so much. We are afraid to show that we care, afraid to open our hearts, and afraid that we may appear vulnerable. The irony in this is that when we really care about the individuals we lead, love multiplies. When people know, see, and feel that you care—they do the same. “Love really does keep on giving.”4.How do you give your love?With love,Maria

  1. Walter Truett Anderson, Reality Isn’t What it Used to Be (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1990), p. 29.
  2. Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 125
  3. Madan Sarup, An Introduction Guide to Post-structuralism and Postmodernism (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1993), p. 18.
  4. Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal, Leading with Soul, p. 88.

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

Prioritization In Life and Leadership

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

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

What Were You Thinking?

Thoughts are powerful; they are the seeds of ideas, beliefs, creativity, attitudes, knowledge, wisdom, and reality. Thoughts can be our best friends or our worst enemies. Not by happenstance do thoughts come to us; these powerful seeds come to us through choice. Choice and thoughts are action movements, directed by us, whether we are conscious of these activities or not. The key lies in awareness of these two incredible gifts—thoughts, and choices.Unconscious thoughts are just as powerful as thoughts steeped in awareness. Earl Nightingale, in The Strangest Secret, likened the mind to a fertile field with two planted seeds—one with corn and one with poisonous nightshade. Both seeds, watered and nurtured, grew—because to the field, the type of seeds planted did not matter.Our minds are the same way, growing whatever our attention plants and nurtures. I saw a sign the other day that stated ‘Worrying is like praying for something you don’t want.’ With the continued nurturing and care (attention) given to the seeds of worry, the source of worry will grow and become reality. That is how our minds work; we create our realities.In Thoughts & Feelings, Matthew McKay, Martha Davis, and Patrick Fanning identify fifteen key groups of disempowering perspectives:

  • Filtering – Focusing on the negative details of a situation and filtering out all positive aspects.
  • Polarized Thinking – Seeing a situation as either good or bad, right, or wrong, perfect or a failure.
  • Over-generalization – Making a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence.
  • Mind Reading – Making assumptions about what people are feeling, why they are acting as they are, and how they feel about you.
  • Catastrophizing – Assuming the worst possible outcome will happen.
  • Personalization – Thinking that everything people do or say is a reaction to you.
  • Control Fallacy – Thinking that you are responsible for everyone or everything around you.
  • Fallacy of Fairness – Being resentful because you believe that everything in life should be fair.
  • Emotional Reasoning – Believing that what you feel is the truth. For example, if you feel unwise, it means that you are unwise.
  • Fallacy of Change – Believing that you can’t be happy unless you can change those around you to behave, believe, or think the way you want them to.
  • Global Labeling – Generalizing one or two qualities into the negative global judgment.
  • Blaming – Thinking that someone else causes everything negative in your life.
  • Shoulds – You keep a list of rules about the way the world should operate and become angry or disappointed if others don’t follow your rules.
  • Being Right – Going to any length to demonstrate your rightness because being wrong is terrible.
  • Heaven’s Reward Fallacy – Feeling bitter when the rewards do not come that you think you deserve after working hard.

Awareness is the first step to disassembling disempowering thoughts. For today, be in awareness of your thoughts and please share your Aha moments!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

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