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You Don’t Have to Be a Natural Born Leader to Make Leadership Your Career

Do you have what it takes to become a leader? And if you’re not a natural born leader, does that mean you shouldn’t pursue leadership skills? Absolutely not! I firmly believe everyone’s life will be bettered by developing these four leadership skills that every natural born leader displays...“Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily, even if you had no title or position.” –Brian Tracy

Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to be a leader? Perhaps other people think so, but how can you know for sure? And if you’re not a natural born leader, does that mean you shouldn’t pursue leadership skills? Absolutely not! Leadership is all about people and relationships, which is the fabric of life.

 

That’s why I firmly believe everyone’s life is enhanced by developing the four following skills that every natural born leader displays

 

1 . Natural born leaders want to help other people excel. When someone has mastered a skill, their self-confidence and productivity skyrockets. They become enthusiastic and more invested.

The challenge: But what happens to you when you see someone excel at something that you don’t? Do you panic because it feels like you’re losing control? Does a competitive personality make it hard for you to see someone excel above you? Do your own insecurities make you want to sabotage or cut others down, so they can’t become better than you?

The solution: Leadership greatness takes “you” out of the equation and concentrates on seeing the value of helping others to progress to mastery.

 

2. Natural born leaders make trust-building a priority. Trust is built on integrity. People need to know where they stand with you.

The challenge: But what if you can’t stand up for what you believe in? One day you let things slide, whereas the next day you make a huge issue over it. And if things don’t turn out as you expect, you run away either physically or mentally? Maybe you even have a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude toward some things.

The solution: Leaders with integrity are seen as consistent, dependable and accountable for their actions, which makes people feel safe. Trust ensures that teams collaborate at a very high level.

 

3. Natural born leaders fine-tune their instincts and intuition. Before anyone else sees it, they can sniff out signals and trends in their environment.

The challenge: But what if your focus is just getting through today, without much thought of tomorrow? You also struggle because you can’t read people very well.

The solution: Inspirational leaders use empathy and NLP skills to notice how people react and respond, which helps them interpret the verbal and nonverbal communication correctly. They can detect shifts in the “climate” of the room. This gives them the advantage of intuitively knowing the best timing for an appropriate course of action.

 

4. Natural born leaders want to make a real difference. When you’re on a mission to make the lives of others better, your enthusiasm is contagious.

The challenge: But what if you have great ideas, but can’t communicate them well enough to bring others on board? You don’t know how to translate those ideas into systems, processes and procedures that others can sustainably follow.

The solution: Extraordinary leaders know how to share their vision in a way that fully engages and energizes others. They structure the business in way that helps the team align with that mission. They specifically design jobs to inject purpose and meaning into the work.

 

Are you facing specific challenges that make it hard for you to develop or improve your leadership skills? My colleague Louise Santiago and I are hosting “Women, Wisdom & Presence – Evolving our presence in the world” in Mindo, Ecuador. Together, we’ll explore how to recognize, name, and support the leader within, and identify ways to live differently, love fully, and be, wholly, who we are meant to be. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. (We’ll be arriving on September 5th and leaving September 11th.)

Feeling Lost? 3 Tips to Get You Headed in the Direction You Want to Go

When you’re feeling lost and without direction in life, it’s helpful to ask questions to assess your life and then change what isn’t working for you any longer. Here are three life lessons that will have the biggest impact in helping you create more joy in these lost areas of your life.  “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Where are you headed in life? Are you on the right path? Are you feeling lost? Is it time for a course correction? Every so often it’s beneficial to ask questions like these so you can assess your wellbeing, dreams and desires…and then change what isn’t working for you any longer.

Take a moment to experience how your body reacts to the following seventeen areas of life. Does each one make feel free and joyful, or do some of them make you experience pain, loss or other negative effects?

    1. Spirituality
    2. Romance
    3. Diet
    4. Exercise
    5. Sleep
    6. Home
    7. Work
    8. Growth & learning
    9. Finances
    10. Family
    11. Friends
    12. Fun
    13. Community
    14. Mindfulness
    15. Breathing
    16. Daily relaxation
    17. Touch

This exploratory exercise helps you identify the areas of life that are making you feel lost. It takes courage to give attention to these feelings, but it’s the first step to feeling whole again. Over the last few years, I’ve been coaching people to extraordinary personal success. Along the way, I’ve gleaned some life lessons that you can use to create more joy in these lost areas of your life. Here are three of them that make the biggest impact:

1. Be the boss…take responsibility…make the hard choices. I’ve found that so many people struggle with taking ownership of their own lives. Somewhere along the way, they’ve given away their power to things that don’t serve them anymore. They don’t feel like they control their own lives.

But at some point, you have to realize you chose those things…the job, the family, the life. You may not be able to change your past, but if you want your future to reflect your desires, start managing your life.

I don’t mean quitting your job, divorcing your spouse and abandoning your children. Instead of following the whims of your past, mindfully shift your thoughts and experiences to ones that bring you joy. No matter what the circumstance is, you can change your focus. Rather than fixating on an annoyance, look for the positive in each experience. As you make this your new way of being, you’ll find that the former irritations and annoyances bother you little, if at all. 

2. Distinguish healthy habits from mindless routines. Pay attention to how your daily habits may be shutting you off from new experiences. For example, when you work for yourself, you sit at home in front of a computer a lot. This creates tunnel vision. If you don’t go out to lunch with friends; if you don’t leave the house; if you don’t get outside stimuli…life begins to stagnate. Your daily routine imprisons you, without you even realizing it.

Look for ways to shake things up…eat a different breakfast, try a different exercise routine, accept more invitations to get out. Become more mindful and self-aware of what you say “yes” or “no” to. In that way, you make each decision a choice, not just a reflexive habit that may not be serving you any more.

3. Ask for and accept help…often. Independence is especially prized in Western culture. But think about this: what dreams could you pursue, if you relied more on others who want to help? Let go of that voice that says you have to do it by yourself. (If you’re curious about exploring a coaching partnership, but you still have reservations, please reach out to me with any questions.)

When you’re feeling lost, it’s important to actively choose systems for living that help you become the person you want to be. If you’d like to dig more deeply into assessing your state of wellness, I invite you to download my free 7-Point Wellness Assessment. It’s one of the tools I use in my coaching practice to start clients on the journey to finding their personal truth.

5 Principles of Thoughtful Leadership Make Good Leaders Even Better

Principles of Thoughtful Leadership“Each person must live their life as a model for others.” ~ Rosa Parks

When you look at a powerful, inspiring leader, you’re seeing the results of her years of growing into her leadership skills. Behind her polished appearance are tears, disappointments, frustrations, and hard-learned lessons. She has experienced hiccups in her plans, inadequacies in her preparation, and unseen circumstances that sidelined her attempts. But she kept striving to improve until she achieved excellence. You can do the same by applying the principles of thoughtful leadership.

How the principles of thoughtful leadership can make a good leader into an excellent leader…

Practice. Every skill is learned through practice; the same is true of leadership. Even if you don’t think you have a natural ability to lead, you can practice, practice, practice, until it becomes a part of you.

A major area to work on is your ability to make decisions quickly and wisely. You may be good at quick decisions, but are they always good ones? If not, don’t give up. Lean into decision-making. View each decision as a practice run and pay attention to the consequences. Ask yourself why it turned out well or why it didn’t. That’s how you learn, if you don’t take yourself too seriously.

There’s a lot of wisdom in the advice to “fail early and fail often,” even though I don’t think of anything as failure. Life is a journey full of lessons, because often you’re making decisions on incomplete or contradictory information. It’s what you learn that matters. Along the way, it’s also important to practice self-forgiveness, gratitude, and other somatic practices.

Lead from Different Directions. If you think a leader can only be the person out in front, like a controlling CEO or president, then it’s time to rethink your definition of leadership.

Thoughtful leaders don’t need to control everything. They recognize the talent of the team, and they encourage the most qualified person to run with a project or initiative. They step out of the way and guide from the background, when needed.

I love how the National Outdoor Leadership School describes the four approaches to leadership. As a designated leader, you take responsibility for the group and keep it on track. But you often ask your active followers to participate in group decisions, as their input gives you a clearer picture. Everyone on the team helps each other as peer leaders. And everyone carries their own weight because they exercise self-leadership and remain organized and motivated.

Be a Team Player. It’s more important to build solid relationships within your organization than “getting the job done,” if that means trampling on your team cohesion. It’s not always easy to effectively resolve conflict among a diverse group of people, but if you show you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and work alongside them, or you’re willing to fill in for them when necessary, that goes a long way to building a “collaborative, family feeling.” This approach fosters a spirit of understanding, communication, motivation, and even a sense of humor.

Stay Calm. Maintaining flexibility under adversity is another vital leadership skill. Embodied leaders don’t become leaders despite those adversities. They’ve become leaders because they used those adversities to their advantage.

There may be times you may want to throw in the towel, but a wiser course is to weigh your options. Ask yourself, “if I do that, what good will it do? …what harm will it do?”

Trying to control everything leads to burnout faster than anything. Learn to let go of things you can’t control, and become comfortable with changes. Maintain your composure and calm, as you switch on your problem-solving skills.  

Develop the presence of mind to look past the immediate disaster/challenge/distraction and focus on the most important task at hand. You can’t afford to panic or become paralyzed with fear. It’s only by embracing discomfort that you can purposefully expand your comfort zone.

Disconnect to Reconnect. Technology is sapping our ability to analyze, strategize and dream big. We must remain connected to nature. You’ll find that regularly immersing yourself in nature removes distractions so you can make decisions for the right reasons.

Are you ready to claim the leader within you? My colleague Louise Santiago and I are hosting “Women, Wisdom & Presence – Evolving our presence in the world” in Mindo, Ecuador. Together, we’ll explore how to recognize, name, and support the leader within, and identify ways to live differently, love fully, and be, wholly, who we are meant to be. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. (We’ll be arriving on September 5th and leaving September 11th.) It’s going to be a wonderful, life-changing experience.

Women – Use This Secret Advantage to Secure Leadership Positions

Because leadership has been dominated by men, women feel they have to be tough and competitive like a man. But you have a powerful asset men don’t: collaborative influence. It’s time to learn to authentically use your influence...“The world doesn’t change one person at a time. It changes as networks of relationships form among people who discover they share a common cause and vision of what’s possible.” ~ Margaret Wheatley

It’s exciting to see millions of women embrace their place in the business world today. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, as of 2017, “11.6 million firms are owned by women.” Yet, it is disappointing to see that many leadership positions are still closed to them.

Why do women find leadership positions so elusive? Because leadership has long been “a man’s world,” women feel like they have to act like men to succeed. They think they have to be just as tough and competitive as a man. But when they’re confronted with office politics, they falter, because men and women fundamentally differ in their views on power and influence. And that’s not a bad thing.

It’s important to recognize the strengths that you, as a woman, bring to the table. You don’t have to act like a man. You have a powerful asset that they don’t – the power of collaboration. We, as women, use our influence as collaborators all the time in our families and communities. Now it’s time to learn to authentically use your influence as a collaborator in business, as well.

The book, “The Influence Effect: A New Path to Power for Women Leaders,” by Kathryn Heath, Jill Flynn, Mary Davis Holt, Diana Faison shares some wonderful suggestions…  

Think bigger. I love the visualization exercise they recommend: image yourself achieving everything you want professionally under these two conditions – you can’t remain in your current position, and you can’t fail. Try it and see how it expands your thinking.

Be prepared for self-limiting beliefs to creep in. They’ll try to keep you small, but you can mindfully shift them to positive ones.  If they’re really stubborn, find a friend, colleague, or mentor who can be your “truth teller.”

 Manage relationships and collaborate. Even when you “don’t feel like it,” work to build genuine relationships and strategic connections. Take advantage of casual office settings and social networking events. Greet people warmly every morning. Be well prepared for your meetings and actively participate with a view to performing well. Even organize group events that your business associates will enjoy.

It’s important to pay attention to the following people within your business sphere:

  • colleagues who will support you,
  • key decision makers or influencers who can sponsor and promote you, and
  • opponents who can make political maneuvering less complex.

Anticipate the long-term impact and cumulative results. Engage your curiosity as you visualize the outcome you desire. Consider all the options and think two or three moves ahead. This will help you identify what you need to do next to obtain your ideal results.

 Acquire an executive presence. Take ownership of your career. You determine your vision, goals and path. No one can do it for you. Don’t let people underestimate you, because of the way you present yourself. NLP techniques will help you earn respect and inspire trust, so people want to work with you, recommend you and promote you.

Turn challenges into advantages. For example, women aren’t getting important feedback from male executives. That’s a challenge! You don’t know how to improve, because no one is talking. Take the initiative and ask for specific feedback. Now you have the advantage of knowing exactly what’s expected of you.  

Companies that encourage and develop women in leadership positions benefit in a number of ways. Women tend to bring fresh perspectives because of their life experience and talents. Their collaborative influence increases employee engagement and higher productivity, which translates into more revenue. These advantages alone give companies a global competitive edge.

Are you ready to uncover the leader within you? My colleague Louise Santiago and I are hosting “Women, Wisdom & Presence – Evolving our presence in the world” in Mindo, Ecuador. Together, we’ll explore how to recognize, name, and support the leader within, and identify ways to live differently, love fully, and be, wholly, who we are meant to be. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. (Also note the dates have changed slightly, since our first announcement. We’ll be arriving on September 5th and leaving September 11th.) I sincerely hope you take advantage of this life-changing opportunity.

Find Your Zone of Genius and You Won’t Have to Hustle So Hard

Many life coaches advise their clients: “If you want to make it big, you’ve got to hustle!” I don’t agree. I think if you find your zone of genius, you’ll look for open doors of opportunity rather than pushing yourself relentless to achieve excellence. Life should be joyful, rather than a struggle.Do you think that striving for excellence takes a lot of work, effort and struggle? Would you be shocked if I told you excellence should be easy? Yes, it takes a lot of work, but not in the way you’re probably thinking. The work comes, not from checking off major hurdles on your to-do list, but rather from finding your zone of genius, which, in turn, makes it easy and fun.

I know this goes against the current trend. Many life coaches advise their clients: “If you want to make it big, you’ve got to hustle!” Or, “Push yourself outside of your comfort zone.” Or, “Fight for every advantage you can get.”

When people buy into this philosophy, they push, fight and claw their way to some measure of success. In the process, they almost kill themselves. They don’t make time for exercise. They eat on the run, if at all. They survive on caffeine and adrenaline. And then they’re too keyed up to sleep at night. Day after day, they follow this same routine. Soon exhaustion, overwhelm, burnout and illness catch up with them.

If hustling and pushing yourself relentlessly were the best way to achieve excellence, these damaging results wouldn’t happen.

In reality, excellence results from giving yourself permission to be yourself and finding your zone of genius. Gay Hendricks, author of “The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level,” brought the phrase “zone of genius” to our attention. It describes the one thing you do better than almost anyone; the thing you do joyfully and effortlessly, which creates value for yourself and others.

Before you can find your zone of genius, however, it’s necessary to identify the fear that keeps it hidden from your own sight.

For example, do you find yourself saying, “I could do great things and be someone special if it wasn’t for…my job, my marriage, my race, my education, my social status, my looks…” and the list goes on and on. Beware, that way of thinking blinds you to your own genius.

In order to find your zone of genius, here are some other self-defeating thoughts to identify and explore. Keep in mind your goal is greater self-awareness, so it behooves you to mindfully adopt a more self-compassionate way of living.

  • Your desire for security makes you afraid to change the status quo.
  • Your attachment to money and prestige keeps you in a job you hate.
  • Your fear of vulnerability makes your relationships shallow and unfulfilling.
  • Your belief that success only comes from hard work relentlessly drives you to dismiss self-care.
  • Your feelings of unworthiness prevent you from claiming your uniqueness.
  • Your addiction to drama sidetracks and distracts you.
  • Your misplaced loyalty makes you choose smallness rather than disappoint a colleague, boss or loved one.

It’s all too easy to be comfortable with living a miserable life. Most people rather live with what they know, rather than risk the unknown.

This is where the “hard work” begins because it calls for radically changing your approach. Instead of always pushing, pushing, pushing, it’s okay to pursue what comes easily. You don’t have to suffer to be great. It’s okay to enjoy life.

Rather than beating your head against closed doors by setting lofty goals and doing it by yourself, look for open doors of opportunity. Ask yourself what you really want in this moment of time. Give yourself permission to try things and do them imperfectly. It is hard to let go of ingrained habits and self-defeating thoughts, but this kind of “hard work” brings you health, vitality, a sense of fulfillment and balance.

One way to know you’re working in your genius is when you’re so absorbed in your project that time flies. You feel a deep sense of satisfaction and can’t wait to start again tomorrow. If you’re not quite in that zone yet, please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to help you identify your zone of genius.

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