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 muchbetter use of our resources.Delegation gives us freedom from chaos and confusion. True, there are some tasks best kept to ourselves such as personal matters, confidentialactivities, 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 that we do not need to be involved in. 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 personto 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 toobtain those resources.4. Establish an accountability plan with checkpoints.Somehow we’ve managed to complicate the idea of holding people accountable, and it is quite simple, really, I mean simple, the acronym, SIMPLE: S = Set clear expectations – this is the number one complaint and stressor from employees – that the expectations are vague.I = Invite commitment – some say gain “buy in” but I much prefer to invite commitment. With an invitation, there is a shared sense of ownership.M= Measure progress – Super important to keep up on this. How you will measure is part of the description of setting clear expectations.P = Provide feedback – again, super important. Far too often managers will wait until the project is finished to say that it wasn’t done correctly.L = Link to consequences – consequences are also identified in the setting clear expectations step.E = Evaluate effectiveness – Do this together and it becomes a powerful activity for you and the person who is accountable.I would love to hear from you. What are some techniques you use to hold people accountable and why do you think the strategies are effective?With Love,Maria
Recently working with a client, we were discussing how we “show up”. We have 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 that conversation. Or our thoughts are fixed on what we are going to say next, not really listening to the words coming out of the other person’s mouth!Our bodies are there – we showed up, physically. But have we really showed up? Are our mind, heart, and spirit present? Are we day dreaming or are we really 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 memo we just read. How different would it be if we really showed up – mind, body, and spirit? How would our showing up affect our communication...our connection and relationships with each other…and in our leadership?How can make sure we really show up? Here are 7 tips to ensure we’re showing up:1. Always start with awareness. Be aware that you are entering a conversation and want to move that conversation into true, authentic connection.2. Be present in the moment. Turn off the distractions, both the literal and the figurative ones.3. Be honest. If now is not the right time to focus on the conversation, reschedule it for a better time.4. If you find yourself wandering, fess up, and start again…the other person will appreciate your honesty. I’ve done this several times and I must admit that at first it takes people aback, but in the end, they do appreciate the honesty and know that they have your full attention now!5. Suspend judgment. Don’t anticipate what you think you may hear.6. Paraphrase what you heard. This will be a good checks-and-balances to ensure you are on the right track.7. Be available and approachable.I would love to hear from you. How do you show up? Does mind, body, and spirit all arrive? If not, what part are you holding back and why?
I recently went to the police station to be fingerprinted as a requirement for a volunteer project I am working on and on the way home, I saw a man driving a small electric car. When I saw the car, I assumed one of his objectives for buying it was to leave less of a carbon imprint. This got me thinking about imprints... What if we were to consciously craft and design the imprint, the “finger print” we desire on the world? How would this change our leadership? Our print, imprints, or impressions are the lasting effects of our attitudes and behaviors. We leave these impressions whether we are aware of this fact or not—the prints are still there.Are we leaving those we “touch” with feelings of encouragement, empowerment, or love? Or, are we impressing people with negativity, helplessness, or fear? At what point in time do we consciously design our leadership impression? Is it when we have 200 people to lead? Is it when we are preparing for retirement? Or, is it now, with our own life, leading ourselves? I love the old proverb, “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”Consciously creating our imprints and impressions increases our leadership influence and effectiveness. In fact, I had a trip to New York City with four days of meeting with over 70 media representatives including television producers, writers, agents, and editors. I gave 2-minute pitches to all of these people, which felt like speed-dating! This got me thinking about the impression we make in 2 minutes, and how we could possibly influence someone to take action. This is not a whole lot different than leadership. What sort of impression do we make with our leadership influence in 2 minutes? What kind of impression do we want to make? What is the lasting or lingering thought we wish to impart on someone?Follow these simple IMAGE steps to create a lasting, positive impression:Integrity – Stand in your integrity, be honest about who you are and what you stand for, demonstrating this with your behavior.Mannerisms – Be cognizant of your body language. Are you open or closed? Are you inviting? Are you demonstrating confidence?Appearance – Does your appearance match the impression and image you want to portray? Show up in presence as well, remembering to practice active listening more than speaking.Greeting – Greet others with openness, kindness, warmth, and a smile. People do not always remember what we say to them, but they always remember how they felt when with us.Enjoy the experience. We are more attracted to fun and joy than anything else.I would love to hear from you. What is the impression and image you wish to impart? What immediate step can you take today to reinforce or refine this image?
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?
Someone asked me, “How can you develop a thick-skin at work?” My initial response was “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 will have a strong heart:
- List your strengths. Next to each one, identify how you may leverage your strong points.
- Create an action plan for personal and professional growth.
- Reconnect with your intuition.
- Do something creative every day.
- Spend time in stillness each day.
- Get enough sleep. Six to eight hours are recommended for optimum health.
- Move your body every day. Some days it may only be walking to the mailbox.
- Eat foods that nourish your body in healthy ways.
- List at least five things each day for which you are grateful.
- Find ways to help others see their greatness.
I would love to hear from you. How do you strengthen your heart?
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
The secrets of leadership include awareness, mindfulness, intuition, power listening, and perception shifting. These five skills are innate, although they become buried for many of us based on our cultural upbringing. The great news is that they never go away! Reconnecting with and developing these five leadership essentials are key to successful leadership. These skills help leaders know themselves better, enabling them to understand and influence others. Let’s face it: leadership is about influence. We cannot influence others in an authentic and effective manner without first understanding ourselves as well as those whom we lead.The challenges that leaders face take on many forms. When we peel back the layers of challenges or problems, we find that in most cases the same root cause affects everything – fear. Manifesting itself in many forms, fear shows up as ego, micro-management, misunderstandings, and reactionary behaviors. When we learn to recognize the underlying cause (fear), we then will know how to rectify the real problem instead of just putting on a band-aid or superficial fix. When we only treat the problems superficially, we experience the same issues repeatedly.What is your biggest challenge with leadership and what secret solution do you have? As always, I love hearing your insight.With love,MariaDr. Maria Church, CPC, is a leadership coach, speaker, and author of Love-Based Leadership: Transform Your Life with Meaning and Abundance and her upcoming book, A Course in Leadership: 21 Spiritual Lessons on Leadership, Love, and Life. Maria holds a doctorate of management in organizational leadership, teaches at several universities, and is CEO of Dr. Maria Church International LLC, a leadership coaching, development, and training firm. For more information, visit www.DrMariaChurch.com.
While some of us demonstrate leadership skills naturally, I do not believe that leadership skills cannot be learned. I have seen many leaders who innately have great leadership potential, but do not use it; and I have seen leaders who choose to learn to be great leaders. I believe the combination of our authentic innate skills and characteristics (whatever those may be) along with proper education and training, and coupled with heart-based thinking, will produce fabulous, irresistible leadership.
The secrets of leadership include awareness, mindfulness, intuition, power listening, and perception shifting. These five skills are innate, although they become buried for many of us based on our cultural upbringing. The great news is that they never go away! Reconnecting with and developing these five leadership essentials are key to successful leadership. These skills help leaders know themselves better, enabling them to understand and influence others. Let’s face it: leadership is about influence. We cannot influence others in an authentic and effective manner without first understanding ourselves as well as those whom we lead.
Dr. Maria Church, CPC, is a leadership coach, speaker, and author of Love-Based Leadership: Transform Your Life with Meaning and Abundance and her upcoming book, A Course in Leadership: 21 Spiritual Lessons on Leadership, Love, and Life. Maria holds a doctorate of management in organizational leadership, teaches at several universities, and is CEO of Dr. Maria Church International LLC, a leadership coaching, development, and training firm. For more information, visit www.DrMariaChurch.com.