Finding Spirituality, Purpose & The Courage To Lead
So much of my leadership came forth through my spiritual journey. I became a Christian at the age of 35 after I began going to a Baptist church with my now husband. Christianity brought home this concept of us being here on this earth not to just take, but to really contribute and lead things that will benefit and impact as many people as possible. For me, my leadership and spiritual calling was: I have to inspire people to lead change in their communities.
Traditionally, when you think of leadership, you think of CEOs of big companies, heads of state, the traditional masculine definition of what traditional leadership is. But, the church leadership conferences made me think of leadership not only in terms of my business, but in contributing to others.
Some people call it professional development or personal growth, but as I became engrossed in leadership development, it became more about moving something from here to there and moving something bigger forward that benefits a large body of people. That’s a win/win for everyone. Good for people, for humanity, for businesses – everyone.
So, as I’m going through this journey, it became not just leading social impact well, or my business well, but leading my whole life well.
I follow the feminine idea of leadership. Traditionally it was built on these masculine traits like don’t show weakness and stay strong, whereas these feminine traits of being vulnerable, and being transparent, gives people space to share their pain and feel less alone. That to me is strong leadership and results in leading your whole life well. I have a 1 and a 3 year old and a marriage, so in the past year I’ve had to think about how do I lead my marriage well, how do I lead my family well, my team well?
When I published my book This Is How We Rise, it was very much about how we all can lead from where we are, and how we need to lead our whole lives well because otherwise leadership is not sustainable. If you’re only focused on the work or one particular area, other things will fall apart.
Instances like Arianna Huffington leaving Huffington Post and created a whole well-being company because she fell down and cracked her cheekbone, or people wind up having massive health issues, or their marriage falls apart. You have to have full life integration for all around success.
There will always be mentors and people in your life who give you good values, and teach you good character and integrity, and to do the right thing, but when you call it leadership there’s something about using that word it makes it more accessible. We’re all born to lead, all of us can be leaders. It’s not about how do we get people to be better leaders, but how do we make the word more accessible and more relevant. Because when you believe you can be a leader, and you begin to lead, you’re really stepping into who God created you to be.
My movement is to support and inspire a generation of change agents within organizations to lead change for issues that matter to them and accelerate impact. The heart of what I do is really about accelerating inclusive equality. It used to be gender equality but now, it’s equality of all people. When you look at humanity not operating at its full potential, it’s because people aren’t. People aren’t thriving. So the idea is, by mobilizing this generation of corporate change agents to hold their organizations to a higher standard and having more impact, the world and humanity gets to a quality faster.
The state of our country is in bad shape and it’s a very disheartening time but, at the same time, the problems have always existed, it’s just that we can actually see more of them now. When you look at the #MeToo movement and sexual harassment, it’s always existed, it’s just been revealed. Inequalities and injustices have also been revealed, which is a good thing because now people are more activated to affect change. You gotta throw a bomb on the country to wake everybody up.
Citizens are more in the mind of “I can’t deal with this anymore, I have to speak up, I have to do something.”
Even when you look at immigration, racism and all the social issues that exist today, even though it’s tough to hear and watch, the good thing that’s coming out of it is more activism and more citizen engagement. I’m excited about that and it makes my whole message so relevant. We can’t depend on traditional leaders in our workplaces, in our country, in our communities to affect the good – we need to be the leaders that we’ve been waiting for. And if we all tackle one specific thing and just do that well, the collective power of that is a ripple effect. A macro movement.
The work that I do with the private sector and corporate workplaces around talent is honing in on the fact that we really need to reimagine what the future of the workplace looks like. When you think about the pay gap and the gender gap in leadership or in male dominated industries (led by white middle age men), we haven’t’ budged a lot in our numbers over the past few decades. Traditional diversity and inclusion was created to make sure women were visible and supported and yet, a lot of the traditional and cultural initiatives haven’t really been as effective as we’ve liked. To me, if you want to retain this new generation of talent so that they can actually grow your organization, you need to utilize different skills and strategies. I believe that some of those areas are about creating workplaces where people can be their whole and authentic selves so, authentic leadership is really important in supporting the multifaceted employee. If they’re doing something on the side, writing a book or have a blog – creating space where those employees can show those skills and actually feel like that’s embraced. I think caregiving and work flexibility are also really important, especially since we have more fathers staying at home and women outearning men – this balance of child rearing, and work/life balance, and having more flexibility and programs to really set employees up for success in the context of raising families. A new paradigm shift need to happen there. Creating space for entrepreneurial thinking and really allowing employees to push themselves and take risks is another huge focus of mine.
When you think about about the paradigm shifts in leadership and what creates success in the workplace, we need to reimagine a more feminine model. A more collaborative model, transparent model, empathetic model, to allow people to show up and lead their whole lives well within an organization. Current leaders have to to make the decision to lead in this way.
In This Is How We Rise, I first touch on how to do good within society in some realm. We have all the privileges we do because of people who came before us that paved the way, and we need to continue to pay that forward. Part 2 of the book is if you raise your hand and say I want to be a leader, I talk about 13 pillars of personal leadership and a methodology of those areas for you to build on.
If anyone chooses to lead, my role is to give you the blueprint on how to do it. You have to have a system, you have to have a methodology on knowing who you are – it’s not automatic. You’re raising your hand to a higher calling and higher responsibility and it’s a LOT of work, but it’s worth it because it’s what the meaning of your life is. Your legacy. It’s not just leadership development, it’s legacy development. If we can convince every person on the planet that their destiny is to be a leader, that everything that has happened, especially the hard stuff, has happened FOR you, to inspire you to improve that area on the planet.
To join Claudia for her annual 2-day transformational leadership experience October 18-19, 2018, register for S.H.E. Summit
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