Power and empowerment are not just buzzwords of the day, but can be an effective leadership strategy to move your team into action. Power is a word that brings about different mental models for different people. Many times messages of power are wrapped in fear, hope, darkness, and light. Power is both greatly misunderstood and terribly misused.Empowerment, too, is a concept that conjures up different impressions for different people.As a leader, power is one of the aspects we expect in leadership. Unfortunately, for many of us, the image of power is one of aggression, dominance, and fear. This type of power can in fact motivate people, but it is not sustaining. This type of power grows resentment in the eyes and hearts of followers.In this episode, I share with you one of my favorite empowerment quotes by Lao Tzu and five steps to claim your power.I would love to hear from you. What is one immediate step you can take right now to self-empower?With love,Maria
We are much more effective leaders when we remove our leadership mask and lead with authenticity.I flew to Philly to participate in a conference where I met up with my brother-in-law Johnny, a Colonel in the Marine Corp Reserves. We had a great dinner and were greeted warmly by everyone in our path. Johnny was in uniform, having just come from a funeral where he was a pallbearer. Strangers opened the door for him, sent over an appetizer, refused to accept his money for coffee at Starbucks, and thanked him for his service and his many sacrifices.This got me thinking…Johnny wore his uniform outwardly and consciously. How many of us, as leaders, are aware of the uniforms we wear? We are leaders and touch other people’s lives whether we are conscious of it or not. What messages are we giving to others by the uniforms we wear? Are they uniforms of service and value? Uniforms of greed? Uniforms of arrogance? Uniforms of fear? Uniforms of love?In this episode, we explore the masks, uniforms, and armor we sometimes wear as leaders and challenge ourselves to shed the old skin.I would love to hear from you. What is the uniform you are currently wearing and what is the uniform you would like to be wearing?With love,Maria
The debate continues – should we separate leadership from management? We explore that question and look through a self-awareness lens at authenticity and vulnerability.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. In this episode, we look to Forrest Gump’s mamma for some sage advice about this distinction.I recently facilitated a leadership boot camp where we discussed the importance of leadership authenticity and vulnerability – yes, in a boot camp! Of course, going to those vulnerable places begins with self-awareness and a ton of bravery.In this episode, I answer the question, “What do Forrest Gump, The Who, and leadership have in common?”I would love to hear from you. What do you suppose keeps us from our vulnerability and authenticity as leaders?With love,Maria
As we come into the realization that we cannot keep doing “business as usual”, we are starting to see discussions about authentic leadership, conscious capitalism, and love-based leadership. In my book, Love-Based Leadership: Transform Your Life with Meaning and Abundance, I present a very simple, yet profound way to lead based on three pillars: Love of Self, Love of Source, and Love of Others.When I speak of love, I am talking about the universal concept of love – honoring and valuing one human being to another. When leading with the Love-Based Leadership (LBL) model, we find meaning, authenticity, value, abundance, and purpose in and through our leadership. Those we lead find motivation, creativity, loyalty, commitment to the task, and value in their jobs through meaning.Many of us share the common desire to find meaning in our daily work. A leadership model based on love recognizes the importance of living holistically by integrating love, health, wellness, work, and spirituality into all aspects of our life.In this episode, I share with you the three pillars of this holistic model and how we can practice love-based leadership in our organizations.I would love to hear from you. Who do you know is a love-based leader?With love,Maria
Did you know the majority of heart attacks occur around 9:00 AM 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.”* Researchers found those victims in a state of “joyless striving” – in other words, without meaning. In today’s video, I share with you five steps to get started on the path of self-discovery and meaning and read an excerpt from my book, Love-Based Leadership: Transform Your Life with Meaning and Abundance.I would love to hear from you. What techniques do you do to go inward?With love,Maria *Study cited in Leading with Soul” by Lee Boleman and Terrence Deal.
What would a new professionalism look like? We are taught to remove ourselves from any emotion (including love) and be “professional” as if being professional makes us non-human or even worse, super-human. This practice, and many of us have gotten this concept down good, has propelled us in our careers, but also has left us empty. Developing emotional intelligence in the workplace with leaders and all levels of the organization will help to create a new professionalism.Being professional does not mean being distant, aloof, uncaring, and impersonal. We are in a world of transition and change. We are in a world where many of us are creating new models for living. In this spirit and in the spirit of love, let’s create a new professionalism. Let's create a professionalism that stands for something powerful, serving, supportive, and love-filled.In today’s video, I share what a new professionalism looks like.I would love to hear from you. How would you create a new professionalism and what does it look like?With love,Maria
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 stay legitimately 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 the 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!
While working on a book that I am co-authoring with my friend and colleague, Jone Bosworth, JD, "Very Bad Bosses: Never Get in a Pissing Match with a Skunk (And Other Sage Advice for Surviving Workplace Villians)", we realized that stopping and soothing our souls a bit first, helps when the sting of a very bad boss behavior is about to strike.So, here are our top 10 favorite soothe-your-soul quotes.10. "Never get in a pissing match with a skunk (because you'll both end up stinking)." -Anonymous9. "If you want to forget all your troubles, wear two tight shoes." -The Houghton Line8. "Always write angry letters to your enemies and never send them." -James Fallows7. "If you kick a stone in anger, you'll hurt your own foot." -Korean Proverb6. "The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief." -William Shakespeare5. "To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee." -William H. Walton4. "Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die" -Malachy McCourt3. "The worst-tempered people I've ever met were people who knew they were wrong." - Wilson Mizner2. "In certain trying circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity furnishes a relief denied even to prayer." -Mark Twain1. "Turn your wounds into wisdom." -Oprah WinfreyFeel a little immediate relief by moving into a philosophical space with these quotes? That's how Jone and I want you to feel as you share and let go of your very bad boss story! We are still collecting stories for our book, and we want to hear from you to include your story in the book! And, you can use a pseudonym too, just in case you are still working for the boss.It is super easy for you to submit your story, just go to www.very-bad-bosses.comIt is that simple, and you can help others who may still be trying to find the laughter in their situation. Now, I would love to hear from you! What was the greatest lesson you learned from your very bad boss? And, don't forget to share your very bad boss story at www.very-bad-bosses.com
It is important for us to reflect on our stories.
You know these stories; they are well-crafted and visited repeatedly for years and sometimes decades. These are the stories we tell ourselves, building beliefs and behaviors based on these tales. As Plato reminded us, perception is reality. Our thoughts create our perceptions and our perceptions influence our emotional, psychological, and physical responses.
I read Marianne Williamson’s book, “The Law of Divine Compensation” and was struck by her discussion about how negative thoughts deactivate the divine law, which falls into three major categories:
1. Negative sense of self2. Anger3. Guilt
Wow – the big three!
This got me thinking how the big three derail other aspects of our life, including how we love others and how we lead others. As we reflect on a negative sense of self, anger, and guilt, let’s explore the following questions:
- Why do we hold onto these beliefs? Is it habit, unawareness, or true to you?
- Is it really true?
- Who would you be if it weren't true?
- With what loving thought can you replace the negative thought?
Our stories are sometimes on auto pilot. We need to just flip off the auto pilot switch and create a new story! Close the chapter on the old one and start writing a new story.
Think about this:When is the best time to plant an oak tree?Twenty years ago.When is the second best time to plant the tree?Now.
When we step into awareness about our stories and thoughts, we come to realize that we can change those thoughts, and ultimately change our lives.
I would love to hear from you. What’s stopping you?With love,Maria
I have to share this quote with you by Robert Muller, “To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.”
Forgiveness is a challenging concept for many leaders. While we understand the idea and we know forgiveness when it happens, the vagueness surrounding forgiveness is illusive. The ambiguity enfolding forgiveness stems from our questions of how to bring about forgiveness/understanding, and from where it actually originated.
How did we even get here—the need or desire to forgive?
We look to practice forgiveness when we are angry, wronged, or hurt. Oftentimes we hold on to anger as a form of power. We feel in control and ultimately powerful when we hold onto our anger, justified in our feelings and hoping that the person we believe hurt us may feel guilty or remorseful for what we perceive they have done to us.
Avoiding forgiveness allows us to fuel our anger, feeling justified and entitled in our anger or pain as victims. Avoiding forgiveness is avoiding responsibility. We are victims because we believe we have no power. Playing the victim role deepens the feelings of pain and anger justification.
Because forgiveness is a state of being, action is required to move into that place or that state. Like so many other lessons, avoiding forgiveness is not static. Anger leads to judgment. Judgment leads to blame, and blame leads to resentment.
Resentment is really unresolved anger and resentment hurts us, manifesting in stress-related illness, anxiety, or depression. Resentment hardens our hearts paving a path of vengeance. We can lose ourselves in judgment, condemnation, and conflict, all the while wondering why we are not happy or content.
Forgiveness is a choice. We take responsibility for our peace of mind and happiness when we choose to forgive. And forgiveness starts with ourselves. To make this choice, we experience a miracle.
The process of experiencing the miracle of forgiveness is perception shifting. The change in attitude comes to us through grace. Cultivating a practice of forgiveness first begins with self-forgiveness. Dr. Robin Casarjian describes six steps to practice self-forgiveness in her book, Forgiveness:
Acknowledge the truth.
Take responsibility for what you have done.
Learn from the experience by acknowledging the deeper feelings that motivated the behaviors and thoughts for which you now feel guilty and hold yourself in judgment.
Open your heart to yourself and compassionately listen to the fears and calls for help and acknowledgment deep within.
Heal emotional wounds by heeding the calls in healthy, loving, and responsible ways.
Align with your Self and affirm your fundamental innocence.
By practicing self-forgiveness, always remember to be gentle with yourself, suspending judgment, allowing and receiving miracles in this holy space. The miracle and shift in perception and attitude gives us insight about others and ourselves.
I would love to hear from you. What is the first step you are willing to commit to today to move you into self-forgiveness?
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 don’t know how to replace them.
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 and the ego is not going to like it!
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, that you will manifest.
I would love to hear from you. How do you recognize when you are being sold to? How do you demonstrate service instead of sales?
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 today. As Einstein and Susan Powter so eloquently remind us, we must 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 remained a primary focus. Perhaps a nod to the “soft skills” of leadership appeared in the curriculum, but not until quite recently are we actually teaching leadership skills to future 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 skill sets. 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. 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. 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?
I would love to hear from you. What activities do you do that develops your right brain thinking? How do you get your creative on?
Early on in my corporate career, colleagues advised me to learn golf, which they claimed as a great way to network, bond with clients, and create deals. I learned the sport, but I did not enjoy the game as much as other people did.At one of our corporate retreats, my boss and colleagues could not wait to get out on the course with some of the top executive staff. I was a bit confused by this because I knew my boss didn’t really like or get along with this group of people. I asked him about it and he said that on the golf course, unless you are a pro, there is no pretense; all are on equal footing and all are hitting poorly. The golf experience allowed them to bring down their guards and share the misery of their poor shots. Like golf, laughter allows us to connect with one another, letting our guards down…without the misery of poor golf shots.Laughter enhances communication by letting our shields down and showing that we are human. The model of professionalism for too long has instructed us to be super-human. We have also learned to check our emotions at the door. We are still human; we still have emotions. To deny that fact is insanity. This is certainly a healthy approach to emotions, which is very different from the professional corporate model we learned.Here are seven strategies for infusing laughter and lightness in your leadership and life:
- Start developing your practice of laughter with consciously smiling today. See how many people you can touch and shift their energy with your smile.
- Begin your meetings on a light note. I have the E*Trade babies’ videos on my favorites list and would start meetings with one or two of those commercials. The more I watch them, the funnier they are to me.
- Watch a funny movie, making note of the elements that tickle your funny bone.
- Listen to a comedy recording on the way to work, setting the tone for the day.
- Laugh for 3–5 minutes every day. Faith it ‘til you make it!
- Commit to do one silly thing a day to cultivate your playfulness.
- Start collecting stories from work that are funny; invite everyone to participate and present these stories at the annual holiday party.
I would love to hear from you. What do you do to infuse laughter into your life?With Love,Maria
Why would grace be a lesson on leadership? How can it not? Grace is the state many wise leaders seek: grace under fire. The state of grace, however, is not just essential under fire; grace serves leaders all of the time. During times of stress, confusion, joy, and peace, grace is always at its best. Many leadership books talk about policies, procedures, and processes. The extreme challenge in today’s organizations is that we value policies and procedures more than we value and honor people. Grace is a word and concept ripe with different mental models for people. Most definitions and constructs have common elements such as beauty, elegance, dignified manner, generosity of spirit, and a gift from God. The ability to see beauty in anything is a gift of grace. Mother Teresa saw beauty in the poorest of the poor, when she said, “Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.”Grace is elegance personified. Many of my female executive clients work with me to reclaim their femininity in their high-level leadership positions. Through the process of reconnecting with their feminine energy, they discover elegance and grace. Elegance is a calm, quiet knowledge of self-efficacy that you can handle anything that comes your way with dignity. Grace through elegance is a powerful leadership example. Remember the 3 Cs as outward manifestations of inward grace:care, compassion, and confidence. Confidence is one of the elements that draw followers to great leaders. But remember: confidence is not arrogance. Care and compassion are grace manifested in outward behaviors toward others, demonstrated through acts of sincere kindness to each other. I would love to hear from you. What are some of the ways you demonstrate grace in your leadership and in your life? With Love,Maria
I love the phrase, “An Attitude of Gratitude”. What exactly is an attitude of gratitude? In basic terms, gratitude is thankfulness.We usually remember to give thanks when we feel great. However, living in a state of gratitude is a way of being. Gratitude may be an activity, but you will live a much fuller life, and lead others more effectively, if it becomes your natural state and not just an occasional activity.In addition to the health benefits of gratitude, it is also an abundance magnet. The power of attraction applies; abundance creates more abundance. Many of us have found ourselves to be in the scarcity cycle. Scarcity thinking is focusing on lacking such things as finances, health, relationships, opportunities, etc.It is important to remember that whatever we focus our thoughts and attention on becomes our intention; you become what you think about.Sometimes scarcity thinking shows up in the form of accumulation and greed. People who hoard are deeply immersed in this mental model. If we hold on to anything too tightly, our hands cannot be open to what may be coming.#1. Keep a gratitude journal. Several years ago and I committed to keeping a gratitude journal. Each day I listed at least five things for which I was grateful, big, or small. Some days the list was a dozen, other days I struggled to come up with five! Then something happened…I soon realized that I was receiving more of whatever it was that I was grateful! Blessings surrounded me in my life, and continue to today.#2. Decide to live in a state of gratitude. Be conscious of your thoughts, always shifting from fear to love, scarcity to abundance. Soon enough, gratitude will become your standard operating procedure!#3. Move your thoughts into action. Tell those employees, family members, and friends that you are grateful for their presence in your life, and why.I would love to hear from you. What are some of the ways you cultivate gratitude in your life? How do you demonstrate gratitude?With Love,Maria
Passion is an attraction magnet, it is irresistible. How do you discover, nurture, and live in your passion?
We are drawn to people who enthuse passionate energy. Because passion is so appealing, it is a great energizing force for leaders. Leveraging passion motivates teams, as has passion motivated the masses throughout history.When we think about passion from an individual level, we know we cannot NOT do whatever it is we are passionate about. Our minds, hearts, and bodies must fulfill our passion. To our passion, we are driven to say, YES! We may be able to put it off for a while, but it burns like a continuous flame inside of us until we extinguish it. The only way to extinguish our passion is to fulfill the destiny inside of us or die of complacency.In this episode, I share with you three steps to discover and re-connect with your passion and your purpose.I would love to hear from you. What passion is inside of you eager to come out?With Love,Maria
Workplace creativity and innovation are sought after goals in many organizations. Ever wonder how to get the creative juices flowing? 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.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 tapping into our creativity is do what we did as children—play. Let’s get the creative juices flowing with the abandonment of child-like play.I would love to hear from you. What do you think? How do you get your creative juices flowing?With love,Maria
So often, I am asked these simple, yet profound questions: What is leadership? How can I be an effective leader?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 them differently, however, recognizing that leadership is a critical part of management. I’ve always believed that defining leadership as a component of management was like saying cocoa is a component of chocolate.Many organizations use the term leader when defining certain management positions. However, a title does not make a leader. My Grandpa Jaime used to say, “You can put a suit on a bum, but he is still a bum.” One may put the title of leader on a person, and he or she may or may not be a leader.Most definitions of leadership have one over-arching similarity: vision. Creating vision and motivating followers towards the vision is the fundamental foundation of leadership. If there is no place to lead (vision) and no one to follow, then leadership is absent. I define leadership as the action of inspiring and motivating others toward a vision. I don’t believe it needs to be any more complicated than that.In this episode, I share with you 15 essential factors of being an effective leader.
I would love to hear from you. What do you think? How do you define leadership? What are the qualities you admire in leaders?With love,Maria
How can we gain influence with people at work? How can we create legacy?
Very rarely am I involved in a conversation about leadership that does not include the topic of influence. I believe that influence is what most leaders seek; although, many will confuse influence with motivation. Motivation is important in leadership; it gets the job done. However, influence, is lasting. Influence is legacy.In this episode, I share with you several sure-fire ways to increase your influence with others.I would love to hear from you. What do you think? What are some of the ways you’ve found to influence others, and what are the best ways for others to influence you?With love,Maria
How do you know when leadership is needed? Why is it necessary to move out of your comfort zone?
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! The other day, I had such an encounter. Seth Godin got my attention when he wrote, “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 on to something, and that something is usually growth!In this episode, I share a positive perspective on Seth Godin’s list for when leadership is needed.I would love to hear from you. What do you think? What is outside of your comfort zone that is holding you back? When was a time you moved outside of your comfort zone and how did you do it? How did it feel on the other side?With love,Maria