Friday, March 3, 2017

Getting to the Heart of Leadership

When faced with a decision, do you rely on your head or your heart? Many would argue that decisions – especially business decisions – are best when made as the result of carefully reviewing facts, weighing the options, and then making the most logical choice. In other words, go with your head and forgo your heart. As leaders, however, we make many decisions throughout the day. And a number of them – if you want to be a truly effective leader – need to involve your heart.

No matter what the poster on the wall might say, it’s YOUR actions and reactions as a leader that establish the true culture of an organization. Your employees look to you as a model for how they treat one another, how loyal they are to their team and the organization, and how they behave in general. Showing some heart in your behaviors, in your conversations and in your approach to decision-making will go a long way to ensuring that there is heart in your company culture.

Here's an example. You may tend toward being direct and purposeful. Say what you need to say and move on. But remember, words are powerful. They convey information and they also inflict feelings. As Maya Angelou said, “people will forget what you said…but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  You can still be direct and purposeful, but how about wrapping those words in a blanket of gentleness and kindness? Think about how that might affect the outcome.

When you are in a difficult conversation, take a deep breath, count to 5, and imagine yourself in the other person’s shoes. How might this impact your conversation?

As leaders, we’re busy. We move through the day from meetings to issues to decisions with little time to reflect or to tap into that inner voice that helps us align our actions, intentions, and values: our heart. Last month was “heart health” month. In honor of that, I recommend that, going forward, you do this brief exercise before going into an important meeting or difficult conversation.

Spend a few quiet moments to get grounded. Feel your connectedness to the earth – imagine the trees, rivers, mountains and oceans that make up this beautiful planet; feel the ground beneath you.
Imagine your audience. What do they need to hear from you? How do they need to hear it? What can you say, or how can you say it in a way that conveys positivity and optimism? See yourself as the conduit between your audience and what they need from the meeting or conversation.
Connect with your inner self. Listen to your heart to understand what you need to do to connect with your audience.
Set an intention for the meeting, such as to be direct but open, tough but gentle, logical but empathetic, or simply to have clarity and openness. Let your connectedness guide your approach and your message.
Get out of your head and into your heart. Be receptive to new ways of showing up.

And as you make decisions throughout the day, give your heart a voice in the process.

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.” – Carl Jung

Lead on,

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Resolve to Be Mindful in 2017

For most of us, January is a month of fresh starts. New goals, new diets, new financial or physical fitness routines. We reflect on the past year to develop plans for the new year. Past. Future. How about this year, you include the Present by bringing mindfulness into your daily personal and business lives?

Mindfulness is defined as “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.” It’s a mental state achieved by focusing on the present moment, while being aware of, and accepting, your feelings and thoughts.  Every day there are moments we miss because we don’t allow ourselves the time to stop, look, and listen for the lesson, the opportunity, or the magic that may be in the here and now.

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”Dr. Seuss

Research has shown that in the workplace, mindfulness improves focus, attention, and behavior. An article in Science Daily cites a Case Western Reserve University study which found that “injecting a corporate culture of mindfulness not only improves focus, but the ability to manage stress and how employees work together.”  The study also found that mindfulness:
·         Has a positive impact on human functioning overall
·         Affects interpersonal and workgroup relationships
·         Improves relationships through greater empathy and compassion

“The more I give myself permission to live in the moment without feeling guilty or judgmental about any other time, the better I feel about the quality of my work.” – Wayne Dyer

When we are mindful, we are fully aware of where we are and what we are doing.  We are focused in the moment. This helps us take advantage of “the space” between stimulus and response to gain clarity around our intention and to act accordingly.  Think about if you were to just take a minute or two before a presentation or before a big meeting or before a difficult conversation to just close your eyes, breathe, and suspend thoughts and concerns about anything other than the matter at hand. How might that sharpen your focus? Result in a more positive outcome?

An extension of this is meditation, which is not just for yogis anymore! In fact, according to an article in the Harvard Business Review, How Meditation Benefits CEOs, meditation is growing in popularity among senior executives “because there’s something to meditation that appears to benefit CEOs more than recreation or relaxation do alone.”  Meditation:
·         Builds resilience
·         Boosts emotional intelligence
·         Enhances creativity
·         Improves your relationships
·         Helps you focus

If you’re interested in learning more about meditation and how to get started, you might want to check out Jack Kornfield’s book, Meditation for Beginners. Jack Kornfield is an American author and one of the key teachers to introduce mindfulness to the West.

In the meantime, start reaping the benefits of mindfulness now by beginning and ending each day with a few moments of silence. With practice, you will achieve renewed focus and clarity, and open the door to enhanced self-discovery and abundant opportunities.

Let’s become the cutting-edge leaders of 2017 by creating a wave of mindfulness.

“Your experience of life is not based on your life, but what you pay attention to.” – Gregg Krech, author and Founder of the ToDo Institute

Lead on,


Thursday, December 22, 2016

This Holiday, Give Yourself the Gift of Gratitude

One of the movies I love to watch at this time of year is The Holiday, with Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jack Black and Jude Law. It tells the story of Amanda, a workaholic movie trailer producer in California, and Iris, a newspaper editor in the U.K., who exchange homes on a whim in hopes of mending their broken hearts. The swap puts each of them in an environment quite unlike their own.  Amanda (Diaz) flees her huge, hi-tech Tuscan style L.A. home for Iris’s cozy, quaint, stone cottage in the English countryside. And Iris (Winslet) leaves behind the tranquility of her country garden for the fast pace and palm trees of La La Land.  

Through a series of events and interactions (that’s where Black and Law come in) Amanda and Iris are each given the opportunity to step back from their day-to-day selves to find and honor the “hidden gems” within their respective personalities. In Amanda’s case, she’s finally able to release the emotions she’d been suppressing for so long. Her softer side emerges. For Iris, she’s finally able to let go of a co-dependent relationship. Her stronger side emerges. 

We all have hidden gems that too often stay suppressed because of the hectic pace and responsibilities of our day-to-day lives. The holidays are a great opportunity to give yourself the gift of time to reflect on the value you bring to your work, to your family, to your community, to the world. 

I encourage you to take some time during this holiday season to write yourself a letter of gratitude. Honor yourself for your accomplishments and for your uniqueness. Think back over the year and those moments when someone has expressed gratitude or admiration for something you’ve done or said – what was the quality within you that prompted their reaction? When we acknowledge those qualities we are able to help them grow even more. End the year with gratitude. Be grateful for YOU, just who you are. Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have. 

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” C.G. Jung

In this holiday season, I’m so grateful for each and every one of you. Thank you for sharing your wisdom through your comments and the work that you do. 

Happy Holidays,