“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” ~ John F. Kennedy ~
Nine years ago, I took a position with a company that espoused the values, mission and integrity by which I wanted to live and work. Over time, I moved into a leadership role but found myself without the skills to lead in accordance with these values.
I had managed teams throughout my career, but mainly with companies whose sole objective was profit. I lacked an ineffable “something” to effectively lead a company that put people and planet before profit. I knew about SMART goals, running effective meetings, and how to handle a variety of Human Resource crises, but I didn’t know how to relate in an authentic way with my team, let alone how to be vulnerable and open with them.
In hindsight, the pieces of the puzzle had been orbiting me for some time. As with most things in life, it was a confluence of factors that brought me what I needed. Through my spiritual practice, I had been exposed to Naropa University, but had never taken a course. Seemingly at random, I was given a flyer for the Authentic Leadership Program, along with the budget to attend.
Throughout that course, I learned how to merge my values with the challenges of leading a team. The class brought mindfulness (which I had personally practiced for a decade) into the workplace, and taught me how to engage with my coworkers in an open, honest and authentic way. I had always feared those “difficult conversations” and, although I had previously learned some mechanical “conflict resolution” skills, I still shunned those talks. In the Authentic Leadership course, I learned how to have those conversations with strength, compassion and empathy.
I also learned how to strengthen and rely on my intuition and “gut feeling”. My belief in my abilities grew and I found myself making confident decisions and ultimately building a successful team.
Several years later, I still rely on what I learned and am now engaged in helping to construct a two-day Authentic Leadership program for the natural products industry. It is my pleasure and privilege to be involved in helping to create a more conscious, compassionate and cohesive corporate model, and I hope to continue learning and growing throughout this process.
Matt McLaughlin is the Marketing Director for Organic India USA and has been employing authentic and conscious leadership skills since 1997. In his personal life, Matt has been studying and practicing Buddhism since 2003.
Authentic Leadership for Naturals
June 27-28, 2019 | Boulder, CO
Drawing on principles and practices from ancient wisdom as well as contemporary approaches to leadership and organizational learning, we create a collaborative learning lab that fosters deep personal insights, enhances interpersonal skills, and increases overall leadership effectiveness.
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