Self-Reflection

Want to Lead with Greater Ease? Start with Self-Reflection.

Self awareness is the ability to take an honest look at your life without any attachment to it being right or wrong, good or bad.”

Debbie Ford

What’s the foundation for extraordinary leadership that leaves a lasting impact?

Self-reflection.

Far from being selfish, self-reflection allows us to explore ourselves more deeply – or as Inc.com author Jacob Morgan asserts, “Before you can lead other people, you have to learn how to lead yourself.”

The Many Benefits of Self-Reflection

Leaders – or anyone who consciously engages in a practice of self-reflection – can expect to enjoy many benefits:

  • Stronger clarity and confidence when making decisions

  • More effective, productive communications with others

  • A deeper understanding of our thoughts, moods, and behaviors

  • Ability to tap into our highest potential with greater ease

  • A sense of groundedness and connection in work and life

As most leaders know all too well, it can be incredibly easy to get so caught up in the rapid pace of modern life with its seemingly endless parade of responsibilities that we put self-reflection on the back burner.

When this happens, we lose touch with ourselves and our ability to lead with authenticity.

Leadership strategies

It’s Time to Get BOLDLY Honest – With Ourselves.

When is the best time to practice self-reflection? That’s a question only you can answer, but here’s a great hint from Forbes contributor Naz Beheshti: “It is in the times where you feel that you cannot find enough time that reflection will prove most useful.

Self-reflection is all about getting radically honest with ourselves, getting clear on what our values are, and asking the right questions to provoke a deeper, inner contemplation. “Radical honesty would require us to stand fully in our truth,” suggests Beheshti.

There is no right or wrong time to engage in a practice of self-reflection. Rather, finding what works for you and doing it consistently is key.

Some people may find it most effective to self-reflect first thing in the morning, before the hectic pace of the day gets underway and a greater sense of clarity is present. Others may prefer to bring closure to a busy day with a quiet time of self-reflection before retiring for the evening.

Simple Self-Reflection Practices to Incorporate into Your Life

Need some inspiration to get started? Try any of these simple strategies to discover which ones most resonate with you…

1- Start a journal. Spending time in the solitude of self-reflection can be just the springboard we need to take effective action when we feel ready. And journaling is one of the best strategies we can use to increase our self-awareness. Do an entire brain dump or just scribble down a few thoughts – you might be surprised at the big insights you gain from this age-old practice.Self-reflection in leadership

2- Try a little gratitude. Gratitude isn’t just a feel-good strategy – it has proven benefits, backed by science. Consistent expressions of gratitude actually alter the molecular structure of our brains, enhancing our levels of both happiness and health. This is one simple practice you’ll want to make a part of your everyday life!

3- Ask questions. Indeed, self-reflection involves getting radically honest. When we take a step back from the constant activity of the day, we can ask deeper (and sometimes difficult) questions, like: What are my values? Did I live in alignment with them today? What is my “why”? What legacy do I want to leave as a leader?

4- Infuse self-care. Self-care isn’t self-indulgent; instead, it can become the foundation of a virtuous circle around you: the kinder you are to yourself, the kinder you will likely be to others. The more they receive kindness, the more they can give it to themselves and others. And so on. Think about it: it all starts with you.

Self-Reflection5- Challenge convention. If you’ve followed my blogs for any length of time, you know that I’m not afraid to go against the grain when the situation dictates. That’s where the whole “radically honest” part of self-reflection comes in. When we’re willing to “get real” with ourselves, we sometimes uncover things we were completely unaware of.

At times, the insights we receive as a result of self-reflection may surprise us. They may call for us to challenge conventional wisdom, to go against a common mindset. And that’s a wonderful thing!

It was John F. Kennedy who once said: “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”

May we all integrate a strong practice of self-reflection into our daily lives so we too, can get BOLDLY honest, challenge convention, and lead with greater ease…and lasting impact.

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Self Care Strategies

7 Simple Self-Care Strategies for Leaders to Infuse Today

Self-care. The term has become so ubiquitous that many of us overlook just how important it really is. For leaders in particular, effectively infusing self-care practices into our daily lives can have a tremendously positive impact that radiates out into our world.

In order to create well-being in their workforce, leaders must create a culture where self-care is encouraged and enhanced. This is most effective when top leadership models the behavior they want to see in their organization.”

Monica Thakrar in Forbes

Without further ado, let’s get started with 7 easy self-care strategies to help you live – and lead – with a greater impact and deeper sense of fulfillment:

Self care for leaders#1 – Redefine what self-care means to you. Have you been holding on to a rigid definition of what self-care means? What is your personal concept of self-care? Self-care is so much more than sipping a cup of hot tea or enjoying yoga a few times each week. By challenging how we think of self-care, we open up to building a deeper connection to ourselves. Think of self-care from a whole perspective, encompassing physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

#2 – Infuse self-care into your everyday life. Too often, we put unneeded pressure on ourselves. Shift your focus for short periods from one of “must do” to “ahhh, simply be.” Notice the spacious feeling that arises from within when you loosen up for a little while. (Feels good, doesn’t it?) Taking these short breaks throughout our day can enliven our energy and help us to return to regular tasks with a sense of renewal and joy.

#3 – Keep company with supportive people. It may be a new concept to think of self-care as having anything to do with other people…but it does. HBR author Amy Jen Su calls healthy, supportive relationships a vital part of self-care. “Take notice of who feeds your energy and who drains it,” she suggests. Also become aware of the people in your life who nurture your soul and encourage growth. Which brings us to our next two important self-care strategies…

#4 – Set your boundaries and learn to say “no.” Cutting back on your obligations can help you lower your stress levels while boosting your confidence, too. Say “yes” to taking care of yourself and “no” to all the things in your life that are not serving your highest good. Need some easy pointers? Check out this helpful article on Psychology Today fittingly called 10 Tips for Setting Boundaries and Feeling Better.

#5- Stay accountable. Accountability is critical in all areas of leadership – and yes, even in self-care. Think about a time when you were working on an intense project. You were going to take that break … but did it happen? Or did you just push through without taking your own needs into consideration? It can be easy to neglect our own needs, which makes staying accountable to self-care key. Check in with yourself throughout the day.

Self Care Strategies#6 – Freshen your space. Have you ever noticed how our workspace seems to influence our mood and productivity? Your work area, asserts HBR author Amy Jen Su, “should feel like a reflection of your best self.” Truer words were never spoken. We all deserve a space to work and play that is free of excess clutter or energy that hinders our progress. Add special touches to your space, such as motivational images or small meaningful items that inspire positivity.

#7 – Inspire others to practice self-care. Leadership is all about the “we” – not the “me.” Two impactful things happen when we as leaders practice self-care. It’s often said that we cannot give from an empty cup; when we take care of our own needs, we’re better able to come back refreshed and energized – ready to share the best version of ourselves with the world. And the best part? We can then inspire others to enjoy the benefits of incorporating gentle self-care practices into their own lives. Think of it as a ripple effect of positivity…

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Intent-Based Leadership

Rev Up Your Team With Intent-Based Leadership

What would it look like if your team was motivated to succeed?

If your leadership empowered and inspired others to shine?

If you could use your vision as a leader to connect people?

How do you do it? Lead with intention.

As Leaders, We Must Be Aware of Our Intentions

“Intention is the engine that drives motivated employees, and leaders must remain aware of the intentions they carry into the office with their thoughts, actions and responses.”

William Craig, Forbes.com

Intention is a powerful word – and it’s even more influential when we infuse what it means into how we lead others. By definition, intention is:

  • a determination to act in a certain way : resolve
  • what one intends to do or bring about

In leadership and in life, intentions involve the heart and are therefore deeply rooted. Intentions are all about the process, your process – the “why” in your life, your way of living.

When we focus on our intentions, we’re keeping true to ourselves, our inner values, who we are at our core. It’s all about being present now – unlike goals that are something in the future.

Intentions keep you true to your Self and to your strongest yearnings.

Knowing this, it’s easy to see how critical setting (and being aware of) our intentions are in leadership.

Intent Based LeadershipBringing Intention into the Workplace

When we allow our intentions to guide the way we lead our team, some substantial benefits happen as a result:

  • Employees are empowered as a greater sense of trust is established.
  • Overall work culture is enhanced as people feel a deeper purpose.
  • Individual team members are also encouraged to develop to their full potential.

Seen from a bigger vantage point, these benefits come together to transform an organization, allowing it to establish a greater impact in the products and services it offers as well as the wider social impact it has.

Instead of seeing work as “just a paycheck” to pay the bills, intentions empower us to inspire our teams to find deeper meaning and purpose in their work life.

Intentions keep us connected to our inner core. They help us be more present in all that we do – and to bring our authenticity into every situation.

Lead With Intention to Motivate Your Team

Need a few pointers to lead with intention? Try these:

1- Consider the impact of your words. I’ve spoken a lot about the role of body language in leadership, but words are also important. For instance, you might replace “I” statements with ones that start with “We” instead.

2- Think acceptance, not authority. An impactful leader knows it’s not about “my way or the highway” authoritativeness. Rather, emphasize tolerance and acceptance; be open to new, innovative ideas.

3- Start the conversation about intention. It’s not all about getting everyone on board with your vision and yours alone – encourage employees to share their own unique visions and goals.

4- Set your intention beforehand. Ready to walk into your next meeting? Providing employee feedback? Set your intentions first – a practice that can guide you to stay present and grounded.

5- Define your leadership vision. It’s hard to lead others with intention without a clear image of your own vision. Follow the tips in this HBR article to develop your own captivating image of an achievable future.

Leadership intentionBOLD BONUS TIP: What’s one of the activities that takes up a lot of your time but often produces few measurable results? If you answered “meetings,” you’re not alone.

Optimize productivity by setting an intention to limit meetings to 20% of your time for the day or week. Why? “This creates a healthy balance for the creation of important work while remaining mindful and respectful of each professional’s time,” explains Forbes.com author William Craig.

Intentions Keep Us Grounded

From my own experience as a leader, my intentions keep me grounded. They serve as little prompts to check in with myself, to make sure I’m being kind to myself and to those in my life. They gently nudge me to ask the right questions when it feels like something has gone off track.

More than anything, intentions remind me that life is a journey, and that I’ll enjoy the ride by keeping true to myself. And if I’m not true to myself…if I am not loving the work that I do…why should anyone follow me?

Now, let us all boldly go forward and set our intentions for this day!

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Use your intuition

Up Your Leadership Game by Leveraging Your Intuition

Intuition in leadership…really?

For many of us, the word intuition may seem incongruent with leadership.

After all, we’re often taught to leave our emotions out of the office, to rely on hard data, and to seek the counsel of others before making a big decision.

Exactly what is intuition, anyway?

in·tu·i·tion

By definition, the Cambridge Dictionary says intuition is:

“an ability to understand or know something without needing to think about it or use reason to discover it, or a feeling that shows this ability”

That sounds like something every leader would benefit from, doesn’t it?

In the real world, we often refer to intuition in some common ways:

  • trusting your gut
  • following our instincts
  • going with “a feeling”

In some parts of our world, intuition is sometimes stereotyped as “woo woo” or “New Age.” Yet, most of us are guided by our intuition on a frequent basis, even if we’re unaware of it.

There does seem to be a cultural component involved. HBR found that leadership styles really are different around the world: in their 2014 International Business report, they reported that 85% of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) leaders found intuition to be important, in contrast to just 54% in the EU (European Union).

Intuition in Leadership

Why leaders benefit from leveraging intuition

In today’s increasingly complex, dynamic business world, leaders need as many tools as possible to make effective decisions. Intuition can be thought of as our personal “advisor” when we’re called upon to make key decisions.

Beyond decision-making, intuition may serve as a guide in other areas of leadership as well – in everything from managing daily operations to strategizing solutions to challenges large and small.

As many leaders have discovered, relying exclusively on cognitive processing is not an effective strategy – particularly when the situation is multifaceted. The role intuition plays in leadership is explained well in a Forbes article by Bonnie Marcus, who brings a bit of neuroscience into the discussion:

Research in neuroscience tells us that the amount of storage in working memory is limited. We need input from all parts of the brain to manage highly complex decisions.”

Marcus suggests that intuition can be especially useful in business settings where the market is rapidly evolving or where the decision that needs to be made has many interconnected components.

How to use your intuition as a leader

“Successful and consistent deployment of intuition, however, requires more than just domain knowledge. It also requires deep introspection, ‘an intense journey into yourself.’”

-Modesto A. Maidique in HBR

For many people “intuition” might feel somewhat inaccessible – but it’s not nearly as challenging as you might think to connect more deeply with your intuitive self.

Here are 6 of my favorite tips to help you do just thatUse your intuition:

1- Divert your attention. Can’t seem to figure out how to solve a problem? Try a brain break – take the focus off the dilemma and see what happens. Your spark of intuition or that “aha moment” might come when you least expect…

2- Converse with your higher self. Actually, we’re always having a convo with our higher selves – but we’re not always attuned to the messages we’re sending (and receiving). Ask your higher self for the guidance and insight you need to solve a challenging situation.

3- Get creative. Complex problems often need more than a conventional approach, and that’s where intuition comes in. Deepen your intuition by tapping into your creative side to ultimately bring a mix of “head” and “heart” into all that you do.

4- Identify areas of your life where you had an inner knowing…a “gut instinct”…an intuitive feeling. Did you follow it? Why or why not? Bringing an awareness to your intuition can help you use it more effectively in everyday life.

5- Bring intuition into decision-making conversations. Share your own inner feelings, and encourage others to do the same. You may be quite surprised how effective this practice is, and how it can expand your awareness of self and others.

6- Live this beautiful day in the moment. This might be the most important strategy of all. When your mind is fixated on the past or focused on some point in the future, it doesn’t leave much room for you to connect with your higher, intuitive self.

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

-Buddha

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Introverted leadership

The Quiet Power of Introverted Leaders

We all know the stereotype of a “successful” leader – outgoing, charismatic, well-rounded, unflappable, confident and assertive – with a pedigree from a top school, of course. In short…an extrovert.

But how accurate is this? (hint: it’s not – few of us fit into any particular “mold”)

Where do introverts fit into the leadership equation?

If you’re an introvert, you’ve probably encountered statements like these during your career:

  • Try being a little more social; you’ll attract so many more opportunities that way.
  • If I were you, I’d speak up more so people actually know what you’re thinking.
  • Be more outgoing! If you want to climb the corporate ladder, you’ve got to be noticed.

Despite conventional wisdom and decades of conditioning in many workplace cultures that outgoing, extroverted leadership is the only way to success, here’s what we really know: introverts make great leaders (oh yes we do!).

How so? Let’s start by putting things in perspective with a great quote from author Rob Asghar in a Forbes article on introverts in leadership:

“There’s no one-size-fits-all kind of leader. The manner of leader your organization needs always depends on the situation.”

power of introverted leadersNow more than ever, the dynamic world we live in demands a range of talented individuals to lead in innovative new ways. It’s undeniable there are settings where extroverts are the best fit. But more and more, organizations are leveraging the distinct advantages introverts can bring.

With their quiet presence, introverted leaders offer a number of benefits

Introverted leaders are often:

  • Driven by productivity. But how will they lead? That’s a common question when hiring an introvert, even when she meets all the other qualifications of the job. Truth? Introverts are absolutely driven to succeed – they’re simply motivated by different factors than their more extroverted counterparts. They may not be as concerned about shining in the limelight, but you can bet their steady presence will guide the organization to success.
  • Pros at solving complex problems. Introverts are able to give thoughtful consideration to problems large and small, methodically outlining the pros and cons to determine the best path forward. Far from adopting a “my way or the highway” mentality, many introverts welcome input and feedback from their teams to develop the smartest course of action.
  • Masterful decision-makers. Decision-making and leadership go hand-in-hand. Here’s a little science for you – a 2012 study found that introverts were more inclined to have larger, thicker gray matter in their prefrontal cortex as compared to extroverts. The prefrontal cortex is associated with abstract thinking and decision-making.
  • Able to develop meaningful relationships. One of the biggest misconceptions about introverts is that they’re not social or interested in building relationships. Yet, many often possess an uncanny ability to strategically develop and maintain lasting relationships. Introverts can be excellent, thoughtful listeners and often do well in one-on-one settings or in smaller groups.
  • Wizards at bringing out the best in others. Introverts value the unique contributions of others and generally emphasize a “we” rather than a more narrow “me” focus. According to an HBR article, “In a dynamic, unpredictable environment, introverts are often more effective leaders—particularly when workers are proactive, offering ideas for improving the business.”

Introverted leadershipIntroverted leaders are all around us

In an increasingly distracted and fast-changing world, we need thoughtful, calm leaders whose capacity for focus and observation are absolutely necessary for teams.”

Henna Inam in Forbes

You may not realize it, but introverted leaders are all around us. In fact, some of the most impactful leaders and change makers throughout history were introverts.

May Inc.com’s list of 23 of the Most Amazingly Successful Introverts in History inspire you today. Some names here might surprise you – but what this really shows is how we all have a unique, meaningful purpose to share with the world.

Here are a few notable names that you may never have guessed are introverts:

  • Former First Lady Hilary Clinton
  • Civil rights activist Rosa Parks
  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg
  • Former US President Barack Obama

Introvert…extrovert…or ambivert?

But what if it feels like you don’t fit into any category – introvert or extrovert? You’re not alone – I’ve actually found that about two-thirds of us are not true extroverts or introverts. We’re actually ambiverts.

Ambiverts have aspects of both traits at their disposal. In other words, think “continuum” rather than “category.” For those of us who don’t fall into any category but rather somewhere on that continuum, the benefits can be substantial because we can thrive in a wider spectrum of environments.

In the real world, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to leadership. At different times in life, we may discover that we’re more aligned with extroverted qualities; at other times, we embrace our inner introvert.

No matter where you fall on the spectrum, know that we are each here to live our purpose and to make a meaningful impact in our world. How will you leverage your unique capabilities to make that happen?

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