Self-Awareness Workshops


20 Characteristics of Enlightened Leadership

Enlightened leadership means being deeply aware of your strengths and areas for improvement, as well as your personal issues, and using that knowledge to create a healthy, functional and productive workplace. It’s also understanding how your behaviors affect you and others. Here are twenty characteristics of enlightened leaders:

  1. Your ego doesn’t run things.
  2. You don’t depend on power and control to feel important.
  3. You trust your employees.
  4. Hierarchy doesn’t matter because you’re part of a team.
  5. Everyone’s ideas have value.
  6. You consistently treat people kindly.
  7. Your own life is balanced.
  8. You’ve worked out your own personal issues.
  9. You don’t use your staff as punching bags.
  10. You listen actively and often to your employees.
  11. You encourage employees to think and act independently.
  12. You praise people all the time.
  13. You don’t look for what’s in it for you.
  14. Personal glory is less important than group success.
  15. You give people opportunities to shine and grow.
  16. You don’t have to win and you know how to lose.
  17. You welcome change.
  18. You value other people’s ideas.
  19. You encourage people to motivate themselves.
  20. Your employees admire, not fear, you.

Enlightened leaders practice these behaviors on a regular basis and they create happier organizations. If you’ve ever worked for someone like this, you know how great it feels and what kind of atmosphere it creates. If you haven’t experienced this type of leadership, you’re in for a treat. How will you encourage enlightened leadership in your workplace?

Take care,


11 Ways to Be a Happier Leader

Leadership brings with it daunting responsibilities and challenges and many talented individuals end up developing ulcers because of how they choose to lead. Not everyone can design an ideal situation where they can do anything they want, but you may have options available to you that only require a small shift in perspective. Here are some examples of leadership behaviors that make people miserable:

  • Micromanaging.
  • Worrying about everything.
  • Lack of planning.
  • Running from one emergency to another.
  • Getting angry.
  • Feeling stressed.
  • Not building teams.
  • Not communicating effectively.
  • Pretending certain problems don’t exist.
  • Never taking a break.
  • Negative attitude.

Think about whether you do any of these things and how they impact your leadership style and general well-being. These behaviors not only affect you, they also affect the functioning of your employees and the overall success of the organization. What if you could change direction and make your life easier? You might do it by behaving like this:

  • Encouraging people to use their talents and abilities, think autonomously and take action on their own.
  • Don’t worry about everything, look at challenges as opportunities to learn and grow.
  • Develop short, medium and long term plans. They don’t have to be complicated, just a road map for what you want to do.
  • Plan a little to avoid being in emergency mode all the time.
  • Instead of getting angry take a break or smile.
  • Do things that reduce stress like breathing or taking a walk.
  • Encourage team building in your workplace.
  • Practice effective communication.
  • Prioritize and deal with problems you might normally ignore. Ask for help if you need it.
  • Take breaks.
  • Decide to have a positive attitude.

It’s usually around this point that I hear someone say, “Guy, this is all fine and good but who’s going to do all this stuff in the real world?” The answer is always you either do or you don’t because you get to decide how you behave in your workplace. Each day is an opportunity to move in a positive direction or stay stuck in misery. It’s your choice. What will you do to be a happier leader?

Take care,


Happy Leader = Happy Workplace

Most of the training I facilitate is with leaders who are (or aspire to be) genuinely happy; not superficially jubilant or pretending to be joyful so as not to appear weak. Happy leaders create positive workplaces where people feel great about themselves and the atmosphere is welcoming and supportive. They focus on encouraging and sharing joy.

Happy and leadership aren’t two words we see a lot in corporate culture. It’s almost heretical to suggest that someone who is deeply happy could do anything but sit around being all blissed out. So we settle for leaders who don’t even like themselves, let alone their employees or workplaces, and it shows in countless organizations that hobble along dysfunctionally or produce robustly but unhappily.

The key is to merge happiness with effectiveness by building contented leaders who also get a lot done. One of the best ways to begin the process is by encouraging self-awareness. Self-awareness is a deep understanding of who you are and how your thoughts and actions affect you and others. It guides how you treat yourself and others and what kind of leadership you practice. Let’s look at a real world example to illustrate this idea.

Leader A says he’s a happy-go-lucky person who always enjoys going to work. He has a lot of friends and describes himself as confident and an optimist. He has a work life that looks great to everyone around him but, if he’s forced to take a closer look, he’s only superficially happy. Just below the surface he carries unresolved issues that are so painful he does everything in his power to never look at them. He constantly struggles with voices inside his head that judge him and others and cast a negative shadow on everything he does. He constantly questions his self worth and doesn’t trust others. He thinks his employees are out to get him or make him look bad. He bristles if anyone questions his authority. Leader A smiles on the outside but is constantly battling the demons he harbors inside. Stubbornly self-reliant, he doesn’t seek help and is convinced nobody would be there for him anyway. This type of leader is not living a life of self-awareness because he won’t even begin the process of understanding who he is in order to move forward. He chooses instead to live a life of superficial happiness based on his outward appearance. He treats his employees accordingly.

Leader B also struggles with issues that hurt him deeply and threaten to create internal imbalance. He appears happy to his employees and co-workers but his happiness comes from a very different place. Leader B decided years ago to consciously examine the events that brought him pain. He worked actively to acknowledge and heal his past and created a plan to move beyond the hurt. Leader B feels consistently and genuinely happy because he has healed the wounds from his past. His happiness is real because it’s grounded in deep self-awareness that grew from healing himself. He effortlessly shares his joy with his employees and co-workers.

True happiness comes from deep inside you. It is a state of being that can only be achieved when you resolve the issues from your past. This doesn’t mean that you need to live in the past, the goal is to pay attention to the things that hurt you earlier in life and fix them so you can move in a positive direction.

Leaders who lead from a place of balance and bliss not only create kinder workplaces, they also feel better about themselves. Once you leave the burdens of the past behind, it frees you up to experience the workplace in new ways. It’s like going to work without the giant boulder you used to carry around.

Self-aware leadership is not about being selfish or self-indulgent, it’s about understanding who you are and constantly working on becoming the best person you can be so you can lead better. As you become more comfortable with yourself you’ll find that work (and life) will be easier. What will you do to be a genuinely happy leader?

Take care,


How to Show Your Employees They Matter

Leaders try all kinds of strategies to show their employees they matter. These efforts frequently consist of well-meaning but superficial attempts to demonstrate how much the organization really cares. Things like:

  • The company picnic.
  • Employee of the month (including photo on wall).
  • Mention in the newsletter.
  • Bonus of some kind.
  • Giveaway of some kind.
  • Group email extolling some accomplishment.

These types of efforts yield short-term morale boosting results for the person being recognized. What they overlook is building morale by celebrating the unique talents and abilities of everyone and doing it on a deeper level.

So how can leaders show employees they matter? It’s a revolutionary process called listening to them. It works like this:

  1. Set up a time with the employee where you can talk with no interruptions and both of you are relaxed.
  2. Ask the employee how he or she is doing. Also ask what’s going well in their job and what they would improve. Ask them for their ideas on how to improve things. Make sure to ask only open-ended questions, the kind that don’t result in a yes or no.
  3. Listen to him or her without interrupting, getting defensive, opining, giving advice, fixing anything or reacting negatively.
  4. Repeat the process at a time convenient for both of you.

This practical approach will help you show your employees they matter in less time and with far greater meaning than any recognition program. The reason for this is that people like for their bosses to show an interest in them as well as value their input and wisdom. They like to be recognized on a personal level and feel like they’re important. Listening also builds rapport and trust on an individual level.

So much of the way many organizations run is squeezing the most performance possible out of everyone and then throwing them one or two a recognition crumbs. Empathic leaders understand that connecting with their employees directly and compassionately creates a happier, more effective workplace. It also helps leaders because they gain insights and perpspectives they might not otherwise if they hadn’t listened.

Listening is a powerful tool to validate your employees and show them they matter. Try this approach sometime and make it a habit. You’ll learn things about your employees and organization that will help you lead better and get more done. It also gives you a remarkable opportunity to take action to build a more highly functioning and happier workplace.

An important added benefit: Your employees will like you more. What will you do to listen to your employees and show them they really matter?

Take care,


Conflict: It’s About You

I recently facilitated a workshop on conflict resolution and I found it fascinating that almost everyone thought conflict was about the other person. I heard many comments about how the other person would be so much easier to get along with if they only did this or that but very little about what each participant would do himself or herself to improve the situation.

Conflict can be a horrible mess or it can be an opportunity for growth and increased understanding. The challenge for many people is that it requires putting our own issues to the side in order to connect with someone else. Try thinking of the following ideas the next time you feel a conflict coming on.

1. Be aware of your personal triggers. What sets you off?

2. Remember that you decide how you react to situations.

3. Only you can let someone make you mad.

4. Understand it’s not personal, people aren’t trying to slight you in general.

5. Learn to recognize exactly when someone is getting to you.

5. Where do you feel it? Identify where you feel the conflict in your body.

6. Do something different to interrupt the pattern.

If you deliberately give some thought to these areas you will find that you can reduce the way conflict affects you and move toward more positive interactions. It takes some discipline but it also affords you a way to not let conflict consume your life.

Take care,