Lotus Leadership Institute Blog

Sacred in the Ordinary

As you enter the last month of 2011, we challenge you to appreciate the “sacred in the ordinary.” Oprah talks about how those little ordinary moments are actually extraordinary if you come at them with the right frame of mind—a frame of mind that is grateful for the present moment you find yourself in.

Instead of looking at your pile of dirty dishes with loathing and dread, appreciate the fact that those dirty dishes reflect a meal you and your family just enjoyed—that you are not one of the millions of people who don’t have food for themselves or for their family.

Instead of moaning and groaning, annoyed when that alarm clock goes off at 6:00am, stretch your legs, point your toes, slowly become aware of the muscles in your body as you get up out of bed, thankful that you are able to feel and move your legs, unlike the many quad-and paraplegics who live their lives in a wheel chair.

When you’ve had just about enough of your kids yelling through the house, or arguing back and forth as they tease each other, listen to the vibrancy of their voices and relish in the fact that your children are spirited and strong—that you are not sitting in silence in a children’s hospital room waiting for the oncologist to give you an update.

When your boss gives you grief, yet again, over someone else’s mistake and you want to do is tell her to “shove it,” most likely with some other words, be thankful that you actually have a job and that your boss thinks highly enough of you to want to hold you accountable for high quality work.

It’s those ordinary moments that come and go so often in our lives, yet we fail to appreciate the blessings that the ordinary actually bestows on us. At Lotus we know leadership development is directly related to our own adult development; to our ability to slow down and reflect, to recognize the small signs life provides, and to connect with others in meaningful ways. We challenge you to live out 2011 in this way—appreciating the sacred in the ordinary and living out leadership by living a Lotus Life.

Happy Holidays

Posted in Updates

Wake Up And Raise Your Level Of Consciousness

The holidays are always a time for increased consciousness. Marked by gratitude, appreciation, attempts at giving back, we all seem to be more conscious of, not only others, but of our selves as well. Our New Year’s resolutions reflect our attempts to acknowledge personal shortcoming and areas for improvement and to set a path toward reaching that improved place. Our increased philanthropic efforts in December indicate our awareness that others live life in such greater need. When it comes to leadership, and to life, for that matter, we need to raise our level of consciousness if we want to truly achieve a breakthrough.

Einstein probably said it best: “The significant problems we face cannot be solved from the same level of consciousness that created them.” This quote has leadership written all over it, as leadership is about addressing those “significant problems,” making a change, making a difference. But we can’t maintain the same level of consciousness and hope to make a difference—in our own lives, or in anyone else’s life.

How often does your New Year’s Resolution fade? Step into any exercise gym or health club in January, and the place is packed. Come in February, not as many people. Come in March, even less, and by April, the gym is back to the same old, same old…the people who have exercise and health embedded in their lifestyle routine. This phenomenon—the resolution crash factor—occurs because people, year after year, haven’t shifted their level of consciousness. People are facing their problems—personally and professionally—from the same place they did last year, and the year before that. Ask yourself: have you developed and improved your self in any way over the last year? Most people find themselves answering “no,” because doing so requires the deep, hard work of tapping into the inner aspects of our selves and understanding those aspects in a fuller and more dynamic way.

But this deep, hard work is exactly what we need, what our organizations need, what our government needs, what education needs. We are all in need of a raised level of consciousness—a better understanding of our own tendencies and actions, more emotional intelligence, authentic self-expression, and owning the dark parts of our self that prevents us from reaching our fullest potential.

So, forget the lose-weight resolution in 2012, and resolve to increase your level of consciousness, and as a result, increase your capacity for leadership—for making a lasting positive change on both yourself and others.

Posted in Updates

Improve Strengths, Not Your Weaknesses—huh?

Most people in authority positions have been high achievers throughout their lives, and they continue in the quest to be better. What we hear most often from clients from all sorts of organizations are requests to improve on the things they aren’t good at—to build up what is currently lacking. While it is certainly important to improve on weaknesses, it is the opposite practice that might better improve one’s ability to be a great leader.

Are we saying that you should take what you are already good at, and get better at it? The answer is yes. The data from extensive global research in leadership-development clearly suggests that it’s people’s strengths that distinguishes them in an organization—essentially, being so good at certain things that people will forgive, or not even think about your weakness.

Why does this work?

1) It makes you a more dynamic and dimensional leader– The most important leadership skills are interrelated. For example, effective communication includes listening, resolving conflict, compassion, focused attention, and interpersonal relations. If you are already a good communicator, you can work on being compassionate or improve your ability to resolve conflict—thereby improving two other leadership skills and making you an even better communicator.

Think of it this way, if Stacy is a good distance runner, she could further improve her ability to run by lifting weights, running short sprints, or doing yoga for flexibility—related, complimentary skills that will improve her overall athletic ability and make her an even better runner. Stacy is still focusing on her strength, but improving it by improving other aspects of herself.

2) It is more fun to focus on what you are good at—People get overwhelmed and often shutdown when working on negative aspects of themselves. Improving what you already do well is much more fun, making it more likely that you will stick to the efforts and actually improve your leadership ability. Follow-through and accountability is the number one culprit in leadership development plans. A strengths-based program increases the likelihood of the program’s success.

So, own your strengths, and begin to make them stronger.

Posted in Updates

Authenticity- More Than A Buzz Word

Authentic leadership is everywhere right now. As we enter another presidential campaign, every media outlet is suggesting that America wants an “authentic leader.” But what does that mean? Is it even possible to be authentic in this political climate?

Authenticity, as a concept, has roots in philosophy and originated to describe how the conscious self resolves the tension between one’s true inner being and the external values or pressures. In other words, can you “keep it real,” with the “it” referring to your inner personality and values and the “real” describing how your inner self is reflected in your actions. It is an ongoing challenge for everyone to find the congruence between who we are and what we do—aligning our values with our actions. But the process of living and leading authentically is one worth attempting. Although the journey to authenticity is ongoing and often difficult, small steps can start the process.

First: know yourself. Some of the best philosophers, authors, and scholars have suggested knowing oneself is a critical component to development. It continues to hold true that before you can be more effective with other people, you first need to be more effective with yourself. Taking the time to know your true and honest self is the initial step toward authentic leadership.

Second: walk your talk. Authenticity is about our actions reflecting our values and inner self. Leaders often talk about the traits and skills they want to see in others in their life. Instead of concentrating on finding the best person in life or in business, concentrate on being the best person.

Authenticity moves beyond cognitive and intellectual skills and calls awareness to skills such as expression, integrity, and personal presence. The road toward authenticity is a long one and has many obstacles on its path. However, authentic leadership is possible in any climate if those leaders are willing to focus inward before focusing forward.

Posted in Updates

A Women and Leadership Tension

With March being women’s history month, we always get an influx of “alerts” on issues of women’s leadership. The verdict is still mixed: some stories claim how far women have come and others cite the low numbers and lack of representation of women in the higher positions within the public sector.

At Lotus Leadership, we certainly feel this tension, organizationally and individually. Most women I speak to recognize the need for women’s leadership development and believe the environment is enhanced with the training is women-specific, however many executives or those in charge of employee development and learning feel like the glass ceiling is a thing of the past and that the women need to roll up their sleeves and get in there with the guys and work their way through (and up) the company positions.

So which is it? Do women still need their own leadership development or should we all just accept the progress that has been made and attempt a genderless approach to leadership development?

The answer:  we need to do both.

Attempting to do only one or the other is what causes the tension. Yes, women have their own unique experience with the workplace, their role in it, with power, with voice, and many other organizational issues—society is still very gendered and always will be—so women will benefit from training and development that focuses on women-specific issues.  However, women and men have to work together every day and the gender dynamic is something that affects leadership.  There are many “general” topics that will benefit women and men equally: leading effective teams, emotional intelligence, transforming culture, and many, many more.

The bottom line: women (and men, too), need to be proactive about their leadership development. Attend a women and leadership conference for inspiration, motivation and education. And then, make sure your company dedicates some resources to overall leadership development. A continued commitment to leadership development is the only way you will maximize your capacity to effectively lead.


Posted in Updates