Dr Maria Church sat on her patio early one evening, after an exhausting day at work, and contemplated her triumphant success. She had met, and exceeded, any expectations she had on herself as a career-oriented woman and broken through that ever-present glass ceiling. She had worked hard, earnt that six-figure salary and the respect that goes with it, and she had become indispensable to the delicate balance of her high-powered organisation. Her male colleagues looked up to her and she had everything she had always dreamed of.
However, underneath the glow of corporate success, Maria was suffering. The highly-educated woman had taken up smoking, gained weight and turned to a regular martini to switch off the overwhelm all too often. She was barely sleeping and ran on adrenaline each day to get by. That evening on the patio, she asked herself a simple question; “I have arrived…but where exactly am I going?
It was in that moment something significant shifted within Maria.
She decided her health and wellbeing was worth more than the accolades of trying to keep up with the cut-throat corporate perception of leadership. She realised she had been operating from fear, and she was one of many others in the same situation. Maria knew that this was no way to move forward, so she set out to change her perception and instead of fear, she learned to operate from love.
“We are inundated with fear. From the boardroom to social media, fear is everywhere. We are becoming used to it and numb to living with fear.However, the fear is showing up in our bodies with illness, stress, and worry. With this constant inundation of fear, we are fragmenting, losing touch with what is really important to us. We are losing touch with meaningfulness,” Maria says.
From her epiphany came the book Love-Based Leadership: Transform Your Life with Meaning and Abundance. She later coupled this with a successful consulting and public speaking practice.
“Love-Based Leadership (LBL) is a holistic model of leadership. I developed this model to celebrate our whole selves. Many of us learned to compartmentalise our lives at work. We had to check our soul/spirit at the door. That never really felt right to me, and never felt authentic,” she explains.
“We are at a very important time – a crossroads. Violent attacks, worldwide, are contributing to massive chaos, but the good news is, there is an awakening in this chaos and a reorganisation of matter. We need to make the decision to either continue on the path of fear, uncertainty, and violence – or choose the path of hope, opportunity, and love.”
We need to make the decision to either continue on the path of fear, uncertainty, and violence – or choose the path of hope, opportunity, and love.”
Maria bases her leadership teachings on three pillars: Love of Self – looking after your health and wellbeing, listening to your intuition and recognising you have the power of choice; Love of Source – being inspired, looking to faith, persevering and allowing creativity; and Love of Others – forgiveness and trust, shared power and collaboration. Maria shares five tips for effective and irresistible leadership:
1. Deeply listen – be fully present when listening to others. When/if your mind drifts during a conversation, fess up and apologise. When we are fully present in a conversation, that is the best gift we could possibly give. Bring your whole, authentic self to your leadership.
2. Recognise that other’s mental models (perspectives) are different from your own and leverage this uniqueness to give you more rounded information for decision-making. Developing your perception-shifting muscle is one of the most powerful techniques you can use when communicating, decision-making, and thinking.
3. Remember that we are all connected, so the action/ decision/in-action/in-decision will have ripple effects. Get up in the helicopter to see the lay of the land and jump back into the weeds to build and nurture the relationships with your team.
4. Empower others. This only makes you more powerful. Let others serve you as well, which helps to develop leadership in others.
5. Practice gratitude every day. What we focus on will grow. One of the reasons why gratitude can change your life is because it shifts your focus. Having gratitude breathes positivity into everything you’re doing.
You can purchase a copy of Love-Based Leadership from amazon.com/Love-Based-Leadership-Transform-Meaning Abundance/dp/1452501025 More resources
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