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A Fortune 500 company, a small business, a start up, a volunteer association. No matter the size, there is something every successful organization has in common: Leadership.

Being a Better Leader

Being a Better Leader

But what separates a good leader from a poor one? Is it enough to have the title? You know as well as I do that the answer will always be, “Of course not!” Although every successful organization begins and ends with leadership, every organization does not necessarily require the same type of leadership. As an evolving leader, you should continually be aware of how your communication, direction, and attitudes impact those around you, and hone your approach to suit their needs.

To assist you as you navigate the path to becoming a better leader, I suggest the following:

Don’t Let Perfect Get in the Way of “Better”

As a leader, you certainly want your daily operations to run continuously without a hitch. But you know there will always be a few speed bumps along the way. How you handle a negative situation affects the way your team members react to you, and it also says a lot about your leadership skills.

So what to do? Always identify the positives of a situation first. Then discuss what could be improved. By focusing on what went well, those around you are more likely to react positively. And when a person’s mind isn’t clouded by things that did not go well, the more easily they can strategize about how to solve a problem. Try this tip: Before bringing up an issue you have with a team member, identify two or three things they did right in the situation. Start the conversation by singing their praises!

Be Authentic

Leaders are attuned to their inner selves. Being conscious of your strengths and weaknesses is an important part of leadership and your authenticity. Self-awareness is a powerful attribute, especially when you’re confident enough to acknowledge what you don’t know and you work diligently to find the answer! After all, we’re only human. Those around you will find comfort knowing that you are not so different from them. Try this tip: At your next group meeting, express how your employees or volunteers can help you achieve a common goal. List some of the qualities they have that you lack, highlighting how they add value to your team.

Identify Your Successors

As difficult as it is to give up control, there is no way for your organization to reach new heights without a cadre of leaders who will succeed you. In fact, identifying these leaders is key to your success! Why not identify them early on? You’ll relieve some of the pressure from yourself while strengthening your employees’ connection to the organization. Be a confident leader and show that you can put your trust in others without having to hover over their every move. Try this tip: On your next big project, delegate significant responsibility to an emerging leader. Let them take the reigns and let them know they have your support. Then find an opportunity to praise their efforts publicly.

What steps have you taken as a leader or seen other leaders take to improve the culture of their organization? Tell me about it in the comment section below. And as always—have a blessed week!

I hope you enjoyed today’s post! Care to chat more? Follow me on Twitter and Facebook to continue the conversation! Twitter: https://twitter.com/gloriaburgess Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drgloriaburgessPhD. And feel free to learn more about me and Jazz, Inc. by checking out my website: http://gloriaburgess.com/index.html.

Pass it On!

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To Celebrate Life, Love, Moms, Motherhood, & Valentine’s Day

Letter to My Mom, Mildred Blackmon McEwen

Give her roses while she can still enjoy them. ~ Earnest McEwen, Jr. (my father)

Dear Mama ~

It isn’t your birthday or Mother’s Day. Christmas is over. Epiphany, too. It’s the beginning of a glorious New Year… and I’m writing this letter to honor you. I want to thank you for the singular blessing you’ve poured and continue to pour into my life: you!

You are that blessing. Your life is a poem, a mighty spiritual, a testimony of gratitude, faith, and love. And this letter is a celebration of you.

Your road has been long; your journey has not been easy. Bigotry and prejudice fortified you, teaching you how to love even more deeply and how to see not just with your anatomical eyes, but also to see with the eyes of your heart. Greatest of all, you relied on God’s love and strength rather than your own. In this you gave me the gift of faith and unconditional love for myself and others.

You also gave me what my sister-friend and fellow poet Nikky Finney would say is the gift of being “a woman with keys.” A woman with keys moves in a particular way and she has a responsibility, an obligation to help others find theirs, help them move through their rooms, cross their thresholds, unlock their windows and doors on the journey to claim their promise.

I remember as a little girl, you gave me the precious gift of encouragement. When you said over and again, “Be all that God intended you to be—no matter what, come what may.” I now offer that gift back to my daughter, other family members, my students, clients, and friends.

I remember your humility and sacrifice. For many long years you and Daddy toiled and sacrificed so that my sisters and I could have a better life than the ones you’d known. I remember your and Dad’s Mississippi stories of struggle and strife, of Dad’s deep longing to go to college to better himself and improve our lot, of him working as a janitor at Ole Miss and there, by the grace of God, William Faulkner came into his life and paid for Dad to attend Alcorn A&M College, with no strings attached. I remember you working as a teacher and cook in the nursery school to help make ends meet, Dad’s working at low-paying jobs even with his college degree. I remember you both standing on your rock-solid values of hard work, gratitude, faith, love, and integrity.

I also remember the profound lessons you taught me—to lend others a helping hand, to be of service to others… your constant reminders to do something with my time, to make myself useful. Even if I was already occupied doing something! Today your words echo in my soul as the voice of legacy. Early on, you taught me, Doris, Annie, Debbie, and Vera that you make a living by what you choose as your work, and you make a life by what you do for others.

I remember when I asked what compelled you to go along with Daddy’s “impossible” dreams, you said, “I loved your father and I believed in him. More importantly, we had an abiding faith in Almighty God, and He never gave us more than we could handle, and His grace always saw us through.” Even when you didn’t have any idea of how our family would make it, your love and faith sustained you.

Thank you for giving me a legacy that values education, character, as well as loving, lifting up, and helping others with no strings attached. Thank you for painting on the canvas of eternity with your unshakable belief in the nobility of the human spirit, for painting with a palette imbued with the qualities of humility, faith, love, triumph, and the capacity to treat every human being with dignity and respect. Through you, I have a small glimpse of God’s magnificence, devotion, and triumph.

Because of you, I know—deep in my bones—a few things: if you want change, you must stir the waters and be willing to get out of the boat. If you want change, then you have to invest your heart and soul in the generations to come. I also know that each person must live the legacy that God has intended just for him or her, which means that you can’t hide your light under a bushel. You have to dare to wear your soul on the outside, and keep on keeping on—no matter what, and we have to pass it on by building sturdy bridges for others to cross.

Mother, thank you for being a diva in my life, for not merely talking about blessings… but for being the blessing, and for passing it on!

Love and honor, your daughter Gloria

Pass It On!

In just a few days, we will pay tribute to an American legend – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Around the world we will celebrate his legacy, even as our own legacies continue to intertwine with his.

Even now, I imagine Dr. King’s presence… and I hear his marvelous voice beckoning us to lean into our deepest calling, which is to serve. “Anyone can be great because everyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve… You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”

Storyteller and author Clarissa Pinkola Estes reminds us that “One of the most calming and powerful actions [we] can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show [our] soul.”

In our ever-shrinking global village, standing up and showing your soul is not a luxury. It is an imperative.

In my latest book, Dare to Wear Your Soul on the Outside, I discuss what it means and what it takes to stand up and show your soul… so that we might co-create the kind of world that we want to pass on to our children and our children’s children and beyond.

As we remember Dr. King and celebrate his legacy, let us also remember to celebrate ourselves as we stand up, serve, and be the change that we want to be in our world.

Pass It On!

This holiday season, we are blessed once again by my daughter’s presence. Now that she has launched her career, we are even more grateful that she still delights in the simple pleasures of hanging out with me and her dad.

Last year about this time, I asked her what I should write about for my “Feel Good Tuesday” post. She said, “Oh, you should write about family—how wonderful it is to spend time with family members, the importance of appreciating one another, and sharing our love, especially older family members while they can still enjoy your presence.

Family matters. As I get older, I appreciate and celebrate family more and more.

On Christmas Eve, my husband, daughter, and I piled into the car and headed to Vancouver to see my mom, niece, and two younger sisters. We enjoyed a few joyous hours snuggled up on the sofa sharing stories and photos, catching up on each others’ lives, playing games, and dreaming about the year ahead.

Before my daughter returns home to Boston, we’ll gather around the fire, piece together several jigsaw puzzles, and take a few walks in the misty twilight. We might even round up our instruments to make music together, creating wonderful new holiday memories.

As you reflect on your holidays, may you be blessed with the warmth of family, blessed by love given and received.

Sending you and your loved ones Warm Blessings for a Joyous New Year.

Pass It On!

Gratitude. God is awesome. As 2011 closes, I give thanks for the many blessings received & shared with you, my community of family and friends. In May, I celebrated with my daughter as she completed her MFA at Boston U. She now enjoys a wonderful position as head of a Boston College’s costume shop, and she continues to expand her portfolio  of exquisite designs. I’m blessed that she’ll be home for the holidays.

Joy. I continue to lean into my ministry in communities near and far, and at my home church and others that call. This summer, I was blessed to visit Ghana, a ministry of learning and teaching with 23 seniors and juniors from University of Washington. My latest book, Pass It On!, will be released next year. It’s my first book for children, and I look forward to writing more.

Light.  In this holy season, I pray for those who are without shelter, food, or a community of loved ones; I pray for those ravaged by war, trafficking, famine, dislocation, flood, sickness, and spiritual darkness. As well, I pray for our service men and women who have returned home from Iraq, specifically for their smooth re-entry with family and community. For some this can be a most difficult transition. I also pray for those who are still serving us at home and around the world, those who are unable to be home with their loved ones during this special time.

May God’s glorious grace, love, and mercy enfold and comfort you during this Holy Season and throughout the New Year.

One Heart ~ Love and Joy, Gloria

Pass It On!

In his letter to the Hebrews, Saint Paul declares that faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Anthurium

More recently,  South African theologian and missionary leader Andrew Murray describes faith as a sixth sense. “Just as we have our [five] senses, through which we hold communication with the physical universe, so faith is the spiritual sense or organ through which the soul comes into contact with and is affected by the spiritual world.” Through this spiritual organ, we have the privilege of communing with the mystery and magnificence of God.

As Paul assures us, the marvelous tapestry of faith is threaded with confidence and evidence of the invisible.  To be sure, this faith is also threaded with fear, doubt, confusion, and, ultimately, surrender.

As our world becomes more chaotic and uncertain, we are called to be ambassadors of light, love, and faith. Ask yourself: What must I let go of, so that I can lean into faith that is confident and sure?

Sending you love, light, peace, and joy in this holiest of seasons.

Pass It On!

I’ve heard Wintley Phipps sing Amazing Grace many times, so much so that his astounding singing and insightful commentary have become inseparable. Wintley’s stirring offering of this spiritual is a classic, a marvelous gift of legacy living. Listen and be blessed.

Pass It On!