10-16 Weeks Online + Two 5-Day Seminars
Located in Beautiful Boulder, CO
Join the mindful leadership revolution
School Districts | Hospitals | Technology Companies | Graduate Business Schools | Nonprofits | Sports Teams
These are just some of the organizations incorporating mindfulness into their leadership development programs. Market pressures, passionless workplaces, and relentless “busy-ness” are reasons leaders and organizational visionaries are seeking to transform themselves—and in turn transform their workplaces.
Naropa University’s Authentic Leadership Program is an in-depth 16-week experiential course in mindfulness, authentic communication, and leading change, designed to help you acquire the equanimity, skills, and vision to lead from your courageous self.
Dare to become the kind of leader you know you can be. Become part of Naropa’s Authentic Leadership community.
Naropa’s online learning environment allows you to download readings, share ideas, and participate at your own pace from wherever you are living or traveling.
Plus you will have the opportunity to network, share ideas, and learn with like-minded leaders during two onsite sessions during which you will engage with faculty, practice meditation, and apply leadership skills.
Naropa University’s Authentic Leadership Program consists of:
- Sixteen weeks of internet-based instruction
- Two five-day onsite seminars in Boulder, Colorado
- Five individual sessions with professional leadership coaches
- Online interaction with instructors and colleagues
- Action-learning projects in the workplace
- Teleconferences with coaches and colleagues
More than six hundred people have graduated from the program since it began in 2001. Most courses have had thirty to forty-five attendees. The program has consistently received high ratings on participant evaluations (average of 4.5 out of 5)
Participants have been leaders or aspiring leaders from small businesses, large corporations, nonprofits, government agencies, as well as some coaches and consultants and university staff and faculty.
The age range of former participants has been 21–70.
“My Naropa experience was one of the highlights of my year. I get better at taking a breath and reminding myself to use the tools at my disposal instead of floundering around when something comes up.”Judy Hatcher
What Are The Benefits?
What Do The Participants Report As Benefits?
Former participants report that by the end of the program they are more energized and clear about their values, purpose, and future direction, as well as the personal and collaborative skills to engage others in meaningful change. They also say that they are more effective in dealing with organizational issues, have more satisfaction with their work and their relationships, are better able to empower themselves and others, and to balance work and life commitments.
Topics We Explore Include
- Authenticity, self-reflection and personal mastery
- Skillful conversation and conflict resolution
- Collaboration, Decision-making and Teamwork
- Power, Influence and Empowerment
- Leading Organizational Change
“I came to the AL program looking for answers to big questions of life and work. I left without answers. Somewhere through the process, I learned to listen, to really LISTEN with my whole body and then the questions disappeared.”Kabir Sanjay Bavikatte
What Students Are Saying
“The AL course was both affirming and healing. It left me with an understanding of both my place and value in the world.”Lesle Jansen
Susan Skjei, PhD, PCC, has been an international educator, coach, and consultant specializing in leadership and transformative change for over 25 years. Formerly a Vice-President and Chief Learning Officer in the technology industry, she is currently the Director of the Authentic Leadership Center at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.
Joining Head, Heart & Hands: The Power of Authentic Leadership
Authentic leadership is not based on a role, position or title. This powerful approach to leadership is accessible to anyone who has the courage to show up, tell the truth and take action. In her talk, Susan will explore leadership practices that foster self-awareness, compassion and confidence in challenging times and how authentic leadership can contribute directly to organizational results.
Good Afternoon and Welcome. I am very pleased to be with you today and would like to thank Naropa University and the Wanderlust Festival for sponsoring this talk.
A friend asked me what I was doing this weekend and I said I was coming to Wanderlust . . . she said, “What is that?” and I said “I’m not sure, but I think it is a kind of summer camp for grownups, except that instead of calisthenics we do yoga and instead of s’mores we eat low carb, high protein, tofu snacks.
Summer camp conjures up wonderful memories for me . . . When I was ten I went away to a camp in Southern California at a place called Canyon Oaks. At home I was the middle child, peacemaker, book reader, sandwich maker. At camp I got to hike and swim and sing songs with other campers around the fire. I discovered that I had a body, that I was passionate about nature and that I could challenge myself in new and exciting ways. I also learned how to use a compass and the importance of knowing where I was, in order to set my direction. This later became a metaphor for my life as I learned how to access my internal compass by joining my head, heart and hands.
How I recognized that there was a problem
Fast forward to 1998. Here I am in Louisville, Colorado, I’ve just been promoted to Vice President and Chief Learning Officer at a fortune 1000 company. I am responsible for training and development for 8,500 employees world-wide during a time when the company is in serious trouble. Amazingly despite falling profits, it is business as usual. Our managers are spending most of their time learning about leadership while sitting in classrooms. It is as if their bodies are fancy robots designed to carry their heads around from one place to another. And as for the heart, forget it. Profit is king and if you don’t have a heart for that, you’re in the wrong place. As for the mind, we are so busy measuring the bottom line that there is little room for insight, creativity or innovation. The more challenging our business situation, the more we tried to perfect the usual solutions.
MY A-HA MOMENT
I knew something was missing but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I had been a meditator for many years, and I decided to do two week meditation retreat in the Huerfano Valley in Southern Colorado. I remember going for a walk in the woods at dusk, listening to the birds, smelling the pine needles, seeing the wild irises on the side of the hill. My senses were alive, my heart was open and my mind was clear. Suddenly I knew that this experience of being fully present and joining my body, my heart and my mind was the key to my own authenticity and quite possibly the missing element in developing resilient, innovative leaders.
I decided to turn my attention to creating powerful learning environments for leaders that would bring out the best of who they were and allow them to access this experience and make it their own. I had some success doing this in my corporate job, but eventually I left in search of a more supportive environment which I found at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. I created a program called Authentic Leadership that later became a semester long certificate program. Over 600 leaders have graduated from the program so far.
WHAT IS AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP?
What is authentic leadership? Some people think authenticity has to do with just being yourself and “letting it all hang out” but authentic leadership goes far beyond this definition. It has to do with accessing the best of who you are in the service of others. So it is not enough just to be “real,” you need to also be connected with others in order to be effective.
According to a recent study by the Center for Creative Leadership, leaders who are trustworthy are internally and externally coherent. They know themselves, show empathy for others and take action when needed. They are able to join head, heart and hands in service to the whole. In other words, they are authentic.
Why is this important now? As Google, Apple, Unilever and other companies are discovering, leaders who are disconnected from who they are do not foster trust. In today’s fast-paced, digital environment, employees are starved for authentic engagement. Leaders who can authentically connect with employees bring meaning and relevance to their lives and this translates to the bottom line as commitment and performance.
WHERE DO WE GET OFF TRACK?
If authentic leadership is so important, where do we get off track? The head the heart and the hands are all important ways that we experience the world. Each of us has a preference for one of these ways of knowing. However, when we focus on one or two of them to the exclusion of the others, we limit our experience of reality. And, if we become overly identified with one, we also have difficulty communicating with other people who see the world differently. Our own preferences create a separation between ourselves and our world. We need to find a pause or gap in our usual approach in order to allow the possibility for freshness and authenticity to occur.
Head people like theories, facts and figures and want to answer the question “why?” I can be one of those people. The more I know the better it gets. Facts are like brain candy for me. However, I can also get lost in them and begin to believe my thoughts are real and wonder why other people don’t share my brilliant conclusions.
Heart people are all about emotions; their own, other people’s, even their pets. They can walk into a business meeting — or a family gathering — and immediately sense the overall mood. Who’s happy? Who’s falling part? They can’t be happy until they know everyone else is. As a result, they forget to listen to their own needs while taking care of everyone else’s.
Hands people mostly want to get things done–to get their bodies moving, and everybody else’s too. They are less concerned with facts and feelings. They just want to know what’s going to get done next. They can cut through a lot of red tape, but they can also make a mess if the need to “do things” gets out of control. They can sometimes ignore facts and run over other people in their hot pursuit to get something done.
Each of us tends to spend most of our time in one of those areas. You may probably also have a secondary area that you favor some of the time; and a third area where they tend to be least comfortable. For me, it’s the body, which is why being at Wanderlust has been so rewarding.
People in one group tend to have misperceptions of those in another. Head people think heart people wear their hearts on their sleeve, and hands people just aren’t listening…to the facts. Heart people see head people as cold fishes. Hands people see everyone else as just wasting time.
HOW CAN WE INTEGRATE HEAD, HEART AND HANDS?
Clearly, there is a need to bring them together. As St Francis of Assisi said:
He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.
So integrating all three areas – head, heart and hand – is a necessary for artistry and innovation as a leader. This is really a metaphor for whatever we create in our lives and in our workplaces that is genuine and that is authentic. And this is especially important in leadership since good leaders need to create a share a vision, build a team, and remove obstacles to getting things done. Your body, heart and mind, and your team’s body, heart and mind, contain enormous amounts of information and wisdom that are needed in order to solve whatever problem you are facing, if you can access them.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT IN TODAY’S WORLD?
Little did I know just how innovative this approach to learning was at the time or how it would become even more relevant in the fast-paced, inter-connected, global environment that we are living in now where organizations are flatter, good relationships are critical and authenticity is gold.
As it turns out, I was not alone in my question about how to create powerful learning environments. Many companies and nonprofits are now incorporating mindfulness and emotional intelligence into their leadership development programs although few bring together all three elements. Let’s take a look at one approach to doing this and what some of the results have been
In the Authentic Leadership program at Naropa we focus on three primary competencies. The first is authentic presence which is cultivated through a variety of contemplative practices including meditation, yoga, aikido and dance. This helps a leader access their own authenticity and incorporate the dissociated parts of their identity.
The second is authentic relationship which is cultivated through dialogue, conflict resolution and working with differences. This helps a leader integrate the heart by cultivating compassion for others.
The third competency is about authentic and effective action which has to do with leading change–a critical skill in our constantly changing world.
A recent graduate from the program, I’ll call her Nancy, was the division manager for an oncology unit in a large hospital. While she was very efficient and ran a tight ship, her employees did not seem very engaged. Errors were frequent and morale was low. During the program she realized that her lock- step orientation toward efficiency was keeping her from feeling the grief she felt when one of her patients died. She was experiencing headaches, heartburn and join pain. Once she was able to acknowledge her thoughts and feelings and physical sensations, she was able to have more empathy for herself and to support her employees more fully in their own emotional journeys. The team came together, errors went down, productivity and morale went up and they developed some innovative approaches to patient care that they were able to spread to the rest of the hospital where they worked. Similar stories can be told about leaders from education and business.
Developing authentic leaders is easier said than done because authenticity (if it is genuine) cannot be manufactured or designed. It can only come about by creating the conditions under which it can manifest
However the key to success with all of these competencies, as demonstrated by Nancy’s story, is that it is the interrelationship of these elements that creates coherence. A synchronicity or union takes place when the three come together.
Here is a practice that will help you join head heart and mind together. Let’s begin with the body and notice what is going on (do guided body scan), then tune into your heart and ask “What are your feeling”, and now the mind, What are you thinking?” etc. Look for the one who is noticing all of it. This is your compass and your source of power as an authentic leader.
Today I’ve been talking about developing the internal compass. Practices like this help us get grounded and connected so we can discover our true north. And you can do it in an instant in the middle of your work day when you feel disoriented or stressed or lacking in confidence. You don’t need to go on a 2- week retreat to get a breath of fresh air.
Imagine a world in which leaders know themselves, are compassionate to others and act from a deep sense of internal alignment. What might our world be like? Authentic Leadership has the potential to bring people together in new and innovative ways if we are willing to show up and step into this powerful space of coherence. May you all become authentic leaders in your lives and at work and bring the wisdom of the head, heart and hands into all that you do. Thank you.
Susan Skjei, Ph.D
July 1, 2014
Faculty & Coaches
Barbara Bash is a Shambhala practitioner, meditation instructor and calligraphic artist who has been exploring the mixing of Asian sensibility with Western art forms for many years. She was on the creative process team at the Authentic Leadership in Action conferences (2002-2015) where she created group experiences of creative aliveness with brush, ink and simple ritual. Her book True Nature : An Illustrated Journal of Four Seasons in Solitude explores the mixing of meditation with nature journaling.
Bob Wing, MA is director of Wise Actions™ and founder of Warrior of the Heart® and offers seminars in the Art of Hosting™ and the Art of Social Innovation™. Bob is also the founder of the Aikido program at Naropa University and currently leads workshops and trainings worldwide, dedicated to learning through experiential education.
Lyn Ciocca, MBA, has experience and training that helps enhance leadership, decision-making and life skills. She has multiple coaching certifications from New Ventures West and the International Coach Federation as well as the Leadership Circle 360, Creativity in Business, and Emergenetics.
Gaylon Ferguson, PhD, is a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition who has been leading meditation retreats since 1976. He is a member of Naropa University’s core faculty and the author of Natural Bravery: Fear and Fearlessness as Direct Path of Awakening and Natural Wakefulness: Discovering the Wisdom We Were Born With.
Amy Haddon, MEd is Renewable Choice Energy’s VP of Communications & Engagement, leading marketing, communication, sustainability, and engagement. She has worked with some of the largest brands in the world to develop customized communication and sustainability programs and tools. Amy is a trusted voice on sustainability, responsible business, and renewable energy markets and trends.
Jean-Jacques Joris, MA, JD, LPC, is a Naropa graduate and former Swiss diplomat. Jean-Jacques worked in high conflict areas, witnessing the power of human resiliency. Fluent in five languages, he and his wife Isabelle founded Twin Oaks Farm, a center for mindfulness-based, equine-facilitated counseling and coaching.
Mary McHenry, MEd, is a wilderness guide and leadership coach with a background in music, movement and creative process. Her work explores the voice as a complex, raw and beautiful instrument for expression and communication; and embodiment as a vital leadership skill. Mary is currently Curriculum Design & Distance Education Manager for the Authentic Leadership Center at Naropa University.
Sheldon Romer, MSW, was the co-founder and former CEO of Rudi’s Organic Bakery and led the company to become the largest organic bread baker in the United States. Sheldon is currently is a consultant and certified professional coach who works with some of the country’s most respected companies and nonprofits in leadership development and strategic planning.
Many guest faculty have taught over the years including
Zoe Avstreih (Authentic Movement), Juana Bordas (Salsa, Soul and Spirit), Steve Demos (Right Livlihood), Barbara Dilley (Contemplative Movement), Mark Gerzon (Conflict Resolution), Arawana Hayashi (Embodiment Practice), Fred Kofman (Conscious Business), Barb Lawton (Leading Change), Julio Olalla (Authenticity and Emotional Intelligence), Jim Marsden (Theory U), Mikki McMillan (Commitment Conversations), Dan Montgomery (Balanced Scorecard), Laura Simms (Storytelling), Tami Simon (Contemplative Entrepreneurship), Mark Wilding (Transforming Systems), and Bob Wing (Leadership Aikido).
Special Evening Workshop
Opening the Door
Workshop with Barbara Bash & Bob Wing
January 30, 2018 / $15-25 Tickets
An evening to explore the creative energy within ourselves and the world – in alignment – held by ritual – full of surprises. Guided by the ancient principles of heaven, earth and human Barbara Bash and Bob Wing will offer moments of solo and collaborative expression with brush, sword, voice and movement. An interest in the alive space of emergence is all that is needed to show up and engage.
Pricing & Registration
SPRING 2018JANUARY 16–MAY 8, 2018
16-Weeks Online + Two 5-Day Seminars
- Online Program | January 16–May 8, 2018
- Seminar 1 | January 29-February 2, 2018
- Seminar 2 | April 16-20, 2018
- Naropa’s Nalanda Campus | 6287 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder Colorado
* Early Bird Price Ends Nov. 1
SUMMER 2018JUNE 4–AUGUST 10, 2018
10-Weeks Online + Two 5-Day Seminars
- Online Program | June 4–August 10, 2018
- Seminar 1 | June 11-15, 2018
- Seminar 2 | July 30-Aug 3, 2018
- Naropa’s Nalanda Campus | 6287 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder Colorado
* Early Bird Price Ends March 1
Tuition is $5,300 for the noncredit professional (save $500 when you apply before November 1)—which includes a nonrefundable $530 materials, technology and coaching fee. Some partial scholarships are available. If you’re interested in a scholorship, please submit a scholarship application in addition to the program application.
If you have an undergraduate degree, you can receive 6 accredited graduate credits for this program—the tuition is $6,500, plus $530 materials, technology and coaching fee. When taking the program for academic credit, two additional papers are required as well as regular attendance onsite and participation online. If you are interested in academic credit, please indicate this on your application.
Travel, lodging, and food are not included.
Group discounts available.
Special pricing for members, partners and sponsors.
Partial scholarships are available for those who qualify. Donate to the scholarship fund.
“My key learning was to trust myself as a leader in life and in my work. Authenticity to me is very grounded in self trust and self love. I love the program onsites!”Amy Green
Accommodations & Travel
Travel By Air
- Fly into the Denver International Airport (DEN)
- The ‘JUMP’ bus runs East/West on Arapahoe Avenue, beginning in downtown Boulder (14th St. & Walnut – Boulder Transit Station) and has a stop on the corner of Arapahoe Ave. & 63rd St., directly across the street from the Nalanda campus.
- Obtain the bus schedule.
- Taxi Options
- Boulder has many lovely hotels.
- We recommend the following because they are conveniently located to the public bus that runs to the Nalanda campus
Other lodging options:
The onsite sessions take place from 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. on Friday and are held at Naropa’s Nalanda Campus, 6287 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder Colorado. Events also take place several evenings from 7:00-9:00 p.m. The evening events are not required, but attendance is strongly encouraged.
On average, it takes about 2-3 hours per week for reading, participating in online discussion, practicing skills, journaling, coaching sessions, etc. Participants can adjust their time commitment to the program, depending on their work or travel schedules. The readings are prioritized, so participants can read as much as they have time for in a particular week.
All of the readings are provided online so there is no additional fee for books.
Tuition is $5,300 for the noncredit professional. Travel, lodging and food are not included. (Please see below for the graduate credit pricing.) Some partial scholarships are available. Preference will be given to participants who register before December 1st. Please email [email protected] to request scholarship information.
Yes, if you have an undergraduate degree, you can receive six (6) accredited graduate credits for this program. The tuition is $6,500* – which includes a non-refundable materials and coaching fee. When taking the program for academic credit, two papers are required as well as regular attendance and participation online. It takes a bit more time, but most people who have taken the class for credit have said that they were glad they put in the extra effort and that writing the papers helped distill their knowledge and insights from the class.
The Authentic Leadership Program was developed in 2000 by Susan Skjei, PhD, PCC, former Training Manager at Hewlett Packard and Vice President of Human Resource Development at StorageTek. As a long-term practitioner of both meditation and leadership development, Susan brought together the best of western approaches to leadership with the practices of eastern contemplative traditions. The original faculty included Fred Kofman, PhD; Barb Lawton, PhD; Micki McMillan, MA; and Mark Wilding, MA. The program has been offered at Naropa University during the spring semester each year in Boulder since 2001.
The program, which is updated every year, incorporates theory and methods from exemplars in business, human development and leadership, including: Juanita Brown, Pema Chödrön, Jim Collins, Glenda Eyong, Bill George, Mark Gerzon, Daniel Goleman, Joe Jaworski, Adam Kahane, Robert Kegan, Fred Kofman, John Kotter, Lisa Laskow Lahey, Sakyong Mipham, Julio Olalla, Parker Palmer, Otto Scharmer, Peter Senge, Chögyam Trungpa, Ken Wilber, Meg Wheatley, and Brenda Zimmerman.