Keep the Fire Burning!

Authentic Leadership

Got Change? Practice Leadership Agility

Do you find yourself overwhelmed by the pace of change?

Here is what one of my clients very vulnerably shared with me:

“The big challenge I am facing is the uncertain world coming my way. My clients, suppliers, marketplace, technology. people, processes, financial targets, span of control, government politics are all now very complex. Due to the pace of change all over, it has created a new normal – an uncertain world. Constant change has become a part of our DNA especially at senior leadership levels. When I look at my training and experience (working across the matrix, applying lean six-sigma, industrial operations, financial skills, process management, people management) I see tools from two to three decades ago.

I am leading in an era where not only I do not know the answers, I also am not sure if I am asking the right questions.

“In this era of ambiguity then, your approach of driving authentic leadership resonates with me. We as leaders need to be confident with not knowing all the answers, comfortable with who we are at our core, to ask for help, figure out questions as we go along in this tsunami of change. We need to trust more and question more. We need to do all this while ensuring we ourselves do not get burned out. We need to pass on energy, confidence, trust to our teams. How do I do that?”

The answer to my client’s question is to grow our capacity as human beings and leaders. The book Leadership Agility by Bill Joiner and Stephen Josephs presents an excellent validated leadership model to do just that.

Five Steps to Practice Empathy

These last few weeks have been tough for many of us as we dealt with the shock of a U.S. election result we didn’t anticipate. Given the divisiveness of the election, many of us feel disenfranchised, while many others feel finally heard and redeemed. Many of us find ourselves estranged from family, friends or co-workers who are on the other end of the political spectrum. It’s time to figure out where we go from here – especially as many of us in the U.S. gather for Thanksgiving holidays.

As authentic leaders, it is important for us to examine and lead with our values. And it is equally important for us to move forward adaptively with change. Whether in our workplace or in our personal lives, not a day goes by when we’re not confronted with the unexpected or someone who has a different point of view (I say this with humility as the mom of a 17-year old!). So here are five steps I share to practice empathy.

Whole Body Leadership ™ Coaching

What is Whole Body Leadership ™

This coaching work utilizes neuroscience research from how our body, our brain, and our behavior are deeply connected. In my coaching process I teach my coaching clients to apply these insights to help them:

  • Grow self-awareness through better awareness of what is happening in their bodies (what is a trigger for them, what happens when stress and fear take over, what are moments of fulfillment for them when strengths and purpose are present).
  • Learn how to recover from triggers by using their whole body so they can be more at choice about their behaviors rather than letting derailing behaviors impact their leadership.
  • Discover new ways of having “presence” and confidence using their body and “being” to impact their non-verbal communication in leading themselves and others.

Together these practices learned and practiced during the coaching engagement become habits and work to create sustained results for clients and a deeper sense of authenticity, personal power, and fulfillment.

Podcast on Whole Body Leadership ™

Here is a podcast where I explain Whole Body Leadership ™ in greater detail. It describes the three step process you can use to recover from a triggering situation and return to your best, most authentic self.

Whole Body Leadership ™ Podcast

How to Network with Authenticity

Networking-Event-ConnectingI was doing a speaking engagement recently on the topic of leading with authenticity and a woman walked up afterwards. She had a dilemma. She wanted to be able to leverage her network to grow her customer base but felt inauthentic asking her network for help.

A lot of women leaders I meet have good networks but they have a hard time calling on their networks to help them. Why is that? They say it feels “icky”. They feel like if they use their relationships to help them in their business or careers they are being inauthentic. I believe there is a gender expectation that we all need to become more aware of. The gender expectation is that women are supposed to be caring, cooperative and relationship-building – for the sake of relationship-building. Thus, often when a woman wants to leverage her network for advancing goals, it causes her to feel “icky”. On the other hand, many men are happy to use their networks for mutual benefit. They benefit by networking “strategically”. This of course, has nothing to do with authenticity. It has everything to do with the unconscious gender expectations we take on. Authenticity is about connecting with values and a sense of purpose that inspires each of us rather than conforming to gender expectations of who we should be.

So I decided to talk to my good friend Kathy Hatala, SVP at Speakeasy, who is masterful at the art of building and leveraging relationships and doing this with great authenticity. I certainly learned a lot from her in this interview. I hope you do as well.

Confessions of A Closet Muslim

MaskI am a “closet Muslim”. I don’t wear my religion on my sleeve (or on my head in the form of a hijab). I don’t discuss my religion in polite company. I just go about my business.

Recently a friend asked me whether some of Donald Trump’s statements about a Muslim registry made me angry. I laughed and said “Nah, I really don’t take that hype very seriously”. I posted about this on my personal Facebook page and a good friend of mine (let’s call her Mary) sent me a private Facebook message.  She said “Really, I had no idea you were Muslim…” Something to the effect that I seem so normal. This is a good friend of mine, a faithful, church-going, animal-loving, right-doing friend. Then I read a Washington Post article that talked about how Americans are increasingly skeptical of Muslims, but most don’t know us. So, I decided to speak out.

Dance With Your Dream: David Langiulli

Children_dancingYou remember what it felt like to dance when you were young? That’s what pursuing our dreams should feel like. I love to connect with leaders who are “Dancing With Their Dream” – one of the seven practices of authenticity that I write about in my book Wired for Authenticity. Why the metaphor of dance? Perhaps it’s because dance brings me so much joy. It reminds me of how pursuing our dreams can be life-affirming, fun and playful.

Dance is a movement – you move a few steps forward, some back, and some to the side. My inner high-achiever saboteur (I call her “Flog Me Now”) just expects a march forward so this reminds me to keep it light! Dance is organic. As you move to a beat around you, you stay present to what is happening in the now and flow with it.

And the best part about dance is that you can do it by yourself or you can do it with partners. The below is a guest post from David Langiulli who is one of my tribe-mates also dancing with his dream. He took a rather bold step leaving his job at Princeton University as head of a fundraising team to pursue his dream of coaching fund-raisers to create an abundance mindset and drive successful outcomes for the causes they care about. David turned 52 today and here’s his inspiring story.

Dreaming Big Can Kill You

Flog Me NowLean In. Play Big. Dance with your Dream. Everywhere I turn I hear these motivational phrases…Yes, that last one is mine.  Here’s the truth no one tells you…

Dreaming big can kill you!

At least that’s what it feels like in this moment. I find myself paralyzed and stuck…in fear. Technically my life is not in danger, but it sure feels that way. I find myself once again at the edge of my discomfort zone, about to drop into the dark unknown of the panic zone. Do I jump into the next bigger play?

Whether it’s a big raise you want, the next big job, the passion work that’s calling to you, the truth is every time you think about getting outside your comfort zone, your inner saboteurs show up ready to play big. Mine create fears that keep me stuck and paralyzed…killing brain cells and motivation along the way.

For me the latest playing big adventure is creating leadership practice circles for my book Wired for Authenticity. Of course you don’t learn authenticity from reading a book, so practice circles make sense. Of course I am passionate about connecting with leaders who want more authenticity in workplaces, so practice circles make sense.

The thing about fear though is that it’s not rational. Here is the dialogue that happened this morning between me and my inner high achiever saboteur (I fondly call her “Flog Me Now” – her motto is “the flogging will continue until morale improves”).

Leadership Practice Circles Curriculum

Authentic leadership is the full expression of “ME” for the benefit of “WE”.

This is a 10-session curriculum, led by a moderator (a leader within your organization) to help you grow as a leader in your authenticity, adaptability and impact in the organization. Each session is designed for experiential learning so you learn by doing within the session. In addition, you will have powerful exercises to bring your practice to life in the workplace to help you advance your goals. Below are session objectives for each session.

Contact me if you’d like to participate in a Circle or create one for your team or organization. Here are reasons why you should join!

Wired for Authenticity Leadership Practice Circles

share_02I am excited to launch the Wired for Authenticity Leadership Practice Circles!

As a leadership speaker, one of my biggest challenges is to create an impact that is sustainable. Why? Here’s what happens for me when I hear a great speaker. I get inspired. I write down a list of how I’m going to network better, achieve my goals better, be more daring, etc. I create a list of things to do with my new-found motivation. I then go back to my 300 e-mails and endless to-do lists (which are now longer). Nothing changes! So here is what I am doing instead.

The Seven Practices of Authentic Leaders

7Practices_infographic-01 (1) (1)Have you ever worked for a leader you admired greatly? Chances are they are not perfect, but they do inspire you. I’ve had the good luck to work with several leaders who motivated me to go above and beyond. Some were really brilliant in their strategic vision. Others were great as coaches. While each of these leaders had very different styles and strengths, the one quality that was common among them was that they each were authentic and believed in me. They challenged me and they had my back. I wanted to give my 110% to help them succeed.

Most of us want to be this kind of inspiring leader but don’t know how. In my own corporate career, I often found myself wondering how I could be more inspirational and motivating to the people I worked with. Copying others’ style didn’t really work for me. I finally realized something important. It’s hard to be inspirational unless you are inspired yourself. And it is hard to be inspired unless you are connected to your authentic self.

In my book Wired for Authenticity, I list the seven practices of authentic leaders. These practices come from my own 20-year corporate career observing great leaders as well as from the challenges many of my executive coaching clients share with me.

Neuroscience data suggests that as human beings we are actually wired to be authentic. It lowers stress levels and increases our well-being and that of the people we work with. I define authentic leadership as the fullest expression of “me” for the benefit of “we”. Here is a brief overview of each of the seven practices and why they are critical to authentic leadership: