Leadership: InPower? or EMpower?

With the recent occurrences in our world, I felt compelled to write about the attributes of a true leader in any situation, whether it be in our family, at school, at work, social networks and other places where leadership can elevate or sabotage an event or situation.

In my years of management, I experienced empowering mentors and ineffective mentors.  While the empowering mentors helped me grow, the ineffective ones also taught me a lot about growth in a different manner.

I will share a couple stories that bring out the qualities that make someone ineffective as a leader in an organization, and share other stories that create a spark in the consciousness that make people come alive in a work setting.

file8841263254299I was already a single mom in my 20’s, a budding manager,and excited to help people succeed. I knew I had a lot to learn and looked up to my superiors to teach me the ropes.  What I quickly learned was that not all managers were effective.

Maureen (not her real name) was an experienced nurse in her prime years of care for patients.  She partnered with another nurse and created a successful hospice service to patients experiencing end of life.

Maureen shared with me that the only reason she became a nurse was that she was forced by her parents to choose a profession and that it was mandatory that she attend a prestigious college.  Her decision was to become a nurse because it was the shortest path to gaining a degree that her parents desired for her. This was Maureen’s path.

I attended my interview Maureen and her partner, complete with suit, pumps, and pad and paper for notes. I answered their questions and shared my experience.  I liked the diversity of the two personalities and enjoyed the short conversation.  I walked away from the interview not knowing if I was hired.  Two days later, I received the call:  “You’re hired.”

In my five years with this organization, I created better communication, scheduling practices, and earned the owners’ trust in running the organization in their absence.  But, then the abuse arrived at my door like a thief in the night.

Maureen lived in a world of fear, hatred, and self-doubt.  She was used to gettangry-womaning what she wanted no matter how unrealistic or painful it was for others around her.  She stomped her feat, screamed, and slammed doors.  This was her management style.  The company’s turnover hovered around 75%.  But, I was not a quitter.

I soon became known by my peers as the “whipping post” for everything that went wrong, even though I was not technically overseeing anything, except those I oversaw in a closely controlled, loosely described supervisory role.  I knew this would be the case, but I was just learning and at the bottom rungs of my career.  I could take a little abuse (I had already been there, I thought, with an abusive husband).

One day, Maureen, came to me and openly reversed on a principle that she made known to everyone in the organization.  She told me to do something morally wrong that served her purpose to appear “large” in the eyes of a client, who was well-known in the community.

file4781300045861Humbly, I repeated her principle back to her and she came unglued. Big mistake on my part. Her arms began flailing in the air, her eyes on fire, feet stomping, and her voice raged like the fury of a mother jaguar.  She came at me, all five feet of scrambled wildness to my five foot nine.  She wrinkled her face, lunged up at me, and screamed for over five minutes.  After a minute, it was like hearing the teacher in Charlie Brown cartoons: “wah, wah, wah, wah, wah.”  Then…silence came.  I drew in a deep breath and without a beat,  calmly asked her if she was finished and said, ” Thank you, may I get back to work, now?”

Maureen spiraled around in a fit of flames, stomped to her office and flung the door shut, creating a jarring slam that I am convinced woke the dead.   Nothing was resolved, and I was still sitting with a dilemma that could have lost us a very valuable account.

This was my first experience with a manager who had no respect for herself or others. She never took time to understand a person or situation before losing her true identity as a caring person (who was, sadly, lost).  There is more to this story, but I digress and put this one on a shelf to tell you about an effective manager.

About ten years later, I was hired as a manager to an international organization that provided internal service to hospitals.  I worked for seven years before making it to corporate management.  Just prior to getting there, I was under the direction of a boss who looked out for people. He helped them become successful.  He asked their opinions, offered engagement in processes.  He valued the people who worked with him. He went by the name Garvey.

Garvey took time with me when I was frustrated that I could not get buy-in from the teams on some of my projects.  He taught me about people and the importance of meeting them where they are.  Further, he saw something in me that I knew, but never really took it to heart.

Garvey asked me, “Do you believe that leaders are created or born?”  I truly believed that leaders could be both.  I believed there were leaders who were ineffective – think Hitler – and those who empowered others -think Mother Teresa.   Garvey and I got along quite well, and he became my professional mentor.  He helped me learn how to take over his job.  I came from the same school of thought – teach others to be at least as successful as me.

One day, I was called into Garvey’s conference room “office.” He traveled to multiple locations within the region.  He said, “shut the door and lock it behind you, we are going to have a discussion.”  Needless to say, I was very concerned. Very…

“Kat,” Garvey said, “I want you to know some things about your management style and what you do with your skills.” Now, I was seriously contemplating handing him a resignation.  “You possess the skills of a leader that I have not seen in a long time.”  As I wiped the sweat from my brow and shook my head, I felt myself looking around to see who he was talking to.  I relaxed into the conversation.

Garvey was talking in a very serious manner.  He had my attention.  “You will be the next regional manager,” he said.  I was speechless.  The silence felt like hours.  I gulped and responded, “But, Garvey, I have no formal degree, or any accounting background, or…”

“Stop,” he said.  “Hear me out. You possess the qualities of a good leader.  You’re not perfect, but you know it.  You set a standard, hold people accountable, but teach them how to be successful. These are the signs of a true leader in my book.”

I nearly cried to hear these words, especially since I recalled the prior conversation when he informed me of his belief that leaders were born.  He really believed that!  So, I sucked up my “girliness” and choked back the tears.  I began to feel my confidence rise with his words.  I felt like I had real purpose in this huge company where employee’s ambitions easily became homogenized, for lack of solid managers to support them.

Later in the year, Garvey retired, and the next director called me into his office.  He said the familiar words I learned about leadership, and I was promoted to the next regional manager -over thirteens states.  My time with Garvey, and other effective mentors along the way, had been fruitful.  I put in the work and it paid off.

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Today, I  have learned so many lessons: from others, and my own shortcomings, as well as the celebrated successes in life and business.  I am now an empowered woman in her golden years, still leading with my love for people and helping them get to a place that brings empowerment to their own lives- a place of happiness and freedom.  I am ever so grateful for the people like Maureen and Garvey who taught me so much about the person I’ve always wanted to be.

 

 

When we empower ourselves, we have completed our own  basic need for attention, the need to feel validated or heard.  We begin to see ourselves in others’ eyes, seeing our own places of opportunity while being grateful to be in the presence of these teachers in our lives.

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Nurturing Voices to be Heard

Kat is a Professional Core Alignment Mentor who specializes in the art and science of NeuroLinguistic Programming and Emotional Wisdom Training.

She has helped many people realize their own potential, improve parenting, build confidence, respond more wisely to stress, and more.

Kat’s practice spans the globe for English-speaking people.  Her passion is helping people awaken the light of wisdom within themselves to live a life of joy.

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Contact:  info@taprootsforlife.com

Site:  https://taprootsforlife.com

 

 

 

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Accepting Home

Over the last few months, the reality of time and home have been on my mind.  I have been visiting my aging parents more frequently, and reflect on the moment as much.  I think about the past, during my childhood years, growing up the oldest of six siblings.  I believe our childhood mirrored a series or two of the Waltons, that is, without the mountain-we had a hill.  I realize that sounds hokey, but it is what I remembered in our semi-rural dwellings in the Midwest.

Our bare-footed summers were spent running through the woods playing hide and seek, creating secret hideouts in the trees, building dams in the creek, barricading forts in the woods for the “bad guys,” swinging from tree swings, long hours at the local ball field playing soccer, kickball, hotbox and fast-pitch. softball-1619396_1920

When my dad bought a vintage convertible, my brother and sisters and I would volunteer to wash it for him so we would have an excuse to hear stereo.  We would crank up the HiFi (yes, that’s HiFi, Gen Xers and Millenniums, not Wifi) and sing, “Jeremiah was a Bullfrog!”  We were free and loving life.vintage-car-852239_1920

In the winter, we could not wait for the snow to arrive.  The colder the weather and the higher the snowfall made for the best sled train ever.   The oldest kids would rally the neighborhood tots, tweeners and teens.   Everyone would link up their sleds at the top of the longest street in the neighborhood.  There would be at least 15 kids willing to brave the long hill.  This was the one time of year when all kids laid down their arguments and became a movie of interactive, collaborative characters in a winter wonderland.

We had sleds, shovels, toboggans, or whatever would slide through the snow and link into
sled-626832_1920the train.
We laid claim that it was the longest sled train in the universe.  Our parents were certainly amused by our spirit, as they watched us whiz by with kids rolling off and giggling in the snow, and the littlest guy with frosty red cheeks running to catch up shouting, “Hey wait for me.”

Many of those parents still live in that old neighborhood, including my parents.  They have stories to tell about their families and living in the 50’s and through the 80’s.

Aging parents, like mine, sometimes are forced to make decisions about their lives- do we stay or do we move?  Their limitations have become reality.  But, such memories here.  The family home, the memories of celebrated Christmases around the tree with their lit
tle kids ripping open presents, laughing, and singing carols; times around the campfire listening to Mom and Dad’s jokes and stories; music lessons, PTA meetings, dance lessons, 4-H club, scouts, football games, proms, cold brisk soccer games, and graduations. The timeline list of hustle and bustle could write a great American life story for anyone who lived in Maxville Terrace.bonfire-1867275_1920

Recently, when I’ve thought about all of these fleeting moments of joy in my own life, I could not help but wonder what my parents feel, as they approach the last years of their lives.  My mother had recruited a couple of us to help her downsize.  She had been preparing for the “just in case,” moment.  She made it known: “Dad or I could go at any time, but if Dad goes first I just want to be prepared to move.”  Logically thi
quilt-716838_1920nking, she- being the quilter, seamstress, and crafter- would obviously have more things to downsize, so she chose to move forward,ready for whatever emotions she might face, as she gave away fine memories that were attached to each scrap of fabric.  “Oh, this was a piece from
your father’s shirt,” or, “Remember when I made matching dresses from this for you and your sister?”

When I heard her words, I heard a bit of quiver in her voice.  She had been reflecting on the past, too.  As we pulled out old boxes of greeting cards from the closet, she seemed to have a story fwomen-1013116_1920or nearly every one of them.  I recalled some faded stories of the past, as well.  The cards dated back to the 1950’s with angelic faces, romantic watercolor pictures and cartoon characters of the times.

“Look, Mom, this one was when you and dad were married; Oh, Mom, look at this one.  It’s a shower card from when I was born.”  She stopped, looked at them, pondered, and smiled.  This was a moment for both of us.  Time stood still for just a moment.

She knew she couldn’t keep them, as it seemed like leaving a friend behind when we tossed them, one by one, into the wastebasket.  I felt her loss.  I reminisced with her with bittersweet sorrow, as she disguised her own with a smile.

I asked her if we had to dispose of all of them.  She responded quietly, “Well, the memories are all there.  I’m just saving the ones that have special messages written.”  I smiled as she said this, as I knew that she could not give up all of the beautiful cards, particularly the ones with special thoughts.  Giving up the cards were reminders of good memories, some not so good; however, I could see it was difficult.

After, we completed the first phase of downsizing, we paused.  I said, “Mom, I know this can’t be easy for you.”  She smiled and said, “It’s just stuff. I have still have pictures and memories of our family.”  We hugged, and I knew at that moment she was at peace with her decision to downsize.pictures-630378_1920

As I packed up my car with things that were bound for the thrift store, it occurred to me that the two of us were in a place of acceptance with a home that no longer represented a house or even the memories.

 

I sat in the driveway feeling grounded in a truth. My mother and I had explored, reflected, and discovered that our peace was in the women we had become. It was a place in our mind, body, and soul that we truly know as home.

 

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May you find joy in each moment as you discover your own sacred place of home in the heart during this season of love, peace and celebration. 

HippyKatKat is a Core Alignment Mentor and Professional NLP Specialist and Emotional Wisdom Trainer.  She is the founder of Taproots for Life, where she guides women, men and teens to awaken their light within to live a life of joy.at believes that each person deserves to feel grounded with conviction in their own authenticity, with a voice to be heard.

Kat holds a sacred space for people to grow as independent thinkers by exploring, discovering and embracing their true authenticity and to inspire others with love, understanding and empowerment.

Her mentoring has changed lives, locally and internationally.  She is also a writer, herbalist, aromatherapist and lightworker.

Contact info:  info@taproots.com

Visit her website:  www.taprootsforlife.com (currently under construction)

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