Employers: Time to use your Untapped Potential!

Women empowermentYesterday while trying to find my way to the bathroom in a restaurant, I stumbled upon this sign…. While it made me laugh, it also made me wonder about the various initiatives targeting women that are currently under way to ensure more diversity in companies, equal pay and related issues.

Not only the European Union with its 2020 priorities, but also the UN with the “He for She” initiative are embracing the issue of gender equality encompassing better access to employment and education. Many governments are also taking action by enforcing thresholds for women on boards, only recently to be followed in Germany.

Looking at the demographics for Europe, we believe that it is time for companies to use so far nearly untapped potential, meaning bringing not only women onboard and into leadership positions but also minorities and qualified migrants. Diversity gets a broader meaning and won’t be a nice slogan in some mission statement anymore. The capacity to attract a motivated and diverse workforce by offering them a flexible, sustainable work environment where they can co-create, be treated equally, have a chance to grow and use their creativity, in short get a sense of fulfillment is a must for any company nowadays.

Following a mindfulness based approach to leadership, training, coaching and consulting, we further believe that emotional intelligence is a key ingredient to personal development, team building and leadership development alike. Mutual trust, emotional intelligence, empathy and mindfulness are needed to achieving goals, developing further as an individual or an organisation and engaging in change.

 Do you agree with us? Or maybe not? We would be happy to hear from you…

Have a great weekend!

Jenny

Empowering Women to Lead

Meet my Team!

As we are heading up to our first Mindful Leadership Workshop in Morocco, entitled “Empowering Women to Lead”, I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to two fantastic and powerful women: Samira Eramdani with whom I am partnering in order to make the workshop in Morocco happen and Asma Nait Ouali, a young professional women who is acting as our project manager out of Marrakech.

Creating connections and providing for a platform for exchange, learning and personal growth truly is extremely rewarding and this workshop will certainly be only the first in a series of projects and programmes especially tailored to the needs of women to be rolled out in North Africa.

Leading Self and Others

… introducing Samira:

Samira Eramdani

“Being a woman in my country as in all others is not an easy job. Women have a heavy load to carry. They are asked to be perfect in conducting their career, educating their children and handling delicate family matters. How this is done is basically left to intuition.

I personally believe that women deserve to have support and training, be able to take advantage from mentoring programmes as well as to build and participate in networks. Most importantly: women should be celebrated. I thought about this programme as a way to begin this journey in order to advocate for the cause of women by providing the core principles of leadership. I have been fortunate enough to learn myself about what it takes to become a good leader, how to organise yourself and how to stay true to your purpose in life. It’s the first step. Many others will follow! “

…. and Asma:

Asma Nait Ouali

“Having graduated with a higher diploma in networking and telecommunications a couple of years ago, I started as a young engineer in management and marketing. Now, I am working as a professional project manager while studying as a part-time student in an MBA programme. In the meantime, I am managing my family’s business, the main activity being the supply of building materials.

Over and above all that, I assume many responsibilities as the eldest daughter of the family and take good care of all my family’s affairs on a daily basis. Thanks to my humble experience, I have been able to gain some skills particularly in leadership that I would very much appreciate sharing with like-minded women peers and professionals.

I believe that there are numerous Moroccan women like me, who are willing to fill different tasks and achieve perfection in as much their professional as personal lives.

Our workshop entitled “Empowering women to lead” was implemented to mainly serve this purpose: to assist professional women in their projects by enabling them to develop multiple leadership skills that, by the same token, may help them succeed in their personal life.”

 

From my side, I am very much looking forward to this collaboration and to our first common project. Let me finish by saying: “You are the architect of Your Own Life!

Click here to read a great article on women in management just published in Switzerland (in French).

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Mindful Leadership & intercultural Communications

Perceptions: Road Blocks or Stepping Stones

Stepping StonesThe recent global events as well as a blog post from Dr. Milton Bennett about tolerance makes me think along the following lines: all humans have an automatic tendency to judge their own experiences.

Instead of simply noticing what is there in the present moment, unfolding and happening, we think about what needs to be changed, how things could or should be different. Something is not quite right in a way, not good enough, not what we had expected and wanted.

Often these thoughts will take us, quite automatically, down on some fairly well-worn paths in our minds. In this way, we lose awareness of the present moment and the ability to freely choose if and how to react. We  jump quickly on to conclusions, which seem to be the right ones and by doing so, trigger behaviors and actions from ourselves and others around us.

Relating to the idea of tolerance we might want to ask ourselves where our threshold lies.

  • How do we really feel deep inside us?
  • What type of experiences deplete us and which ones make us happy?
  • Where do we feel comfortable and where uncomfortable?

We can regain our freedom from automatic thoughts and reactions, if as a first step we simply acknowledge the actuality of the situation we find ourselves in, without being automatically hooked into tendencies to judge, fix, or want things to be different from the way they are.

How do we do this?

  1. Notice what is going on
  • How did your body feel in detail during the experience?
  • What thoughts and images accompanied the experience?
  • What moods, feelings and emotions accompanied the event?
  1. Explore the effects of bringing awareness to the direct experience
  • What do you notice?
  • Is your mind wandering away?
  • Is bringing awareness to the experience affecting it in a way? If so, how?
  1. Accept what is there without wanting to change anything
  2. Let go and simply acknowledge the arising and passing of emotions and thoughts without becoming entangled in the content of it.

Next time you’re confronted with a pleasant or unpleasant experience, try writing down what happened especially in steps 1 and 2. Exploring our own sensations, limits, beliefs, emotions, moods and thoughts is not easy and change doesn’t come over night. It comes with a lot of training and attention.

And of course, change starts with yourself and with how you experience and react to a situation and not with other people around you!

 

 

 

 

The Gift of Mindfulness

Happy Holiday Season

Happy Holiday Season

As Christmas is approaching and instead of rushing to the shops to find a last minute gift, why not giving mindfulness to somebody you love….?

Let me share how I came to work with and practice mindfulness:

At one point in my life, when children came into the family, my personal time became suddenly very scarce as I also continued to work full-time in positions with high responsibility involving international travel and dealing with everything else alongside. Up to that point, I had been able to manage my work-life balance quite well but suddenly without me noticing it, it changed. I did not take enough time out with and for myself anymore. This led to a heavy gall bladder incident in early 2009 where I was told that I was on the edge of burnout and that I had to stop running around.

I then saw an article about mindfulness and thought that it was very much in line with what and who I am. I decided to take up the challenge and found a MBSR teacher close to where I live and with whom I wanted to take up the journey. I actually gave it a try not knowing exactly what it was.

As a matter of fact, in a couple of weeks I rediscovered myself and wondered how I could have possibly been forgetting to take care of myself all this time. I began reading many books about mindfulness and at the same time engaged a lot in intercultural communications (which in fact is my specialization) attending courses etc. I discovered that mindfulness and the qualities of being open, non-judgmental, trusting etc. were exactly the same as what we would strive for when reaching higher levels of intercultural competence. This link (being myself a senior communications professional) struck my interest as well as the link to leadership.

freeimages.co.uk christmas images

Image Source: http://www.freeimages.co.uk

It is no surprise that I then fell on literature from Daniel Goleman and others writing about emotional intelligence as well from Otto Scharmer with his theory U. I suddenly found enormous pleasure at not only reading through all the literature on neuroscience, brain, leadership and interpersonal/intercultural communications I could get, but also deepening my own practice.

I attended many silence retreats and found them extremely nourishing and also kept looking forward every day to my own home practice. I began living in the present moment and saw colours, smelled things that I had forgotten. I also began being different with my children, showing them more things and being more patient. I subsequently decided to broaden my horizon by learning mindfulness for children, attending the training with mindfulschools.org in the US as well as with Eline Snel from the AMT in the Netherlands. I am now on my way to become a certified mindfulness for children teacher and am practicing with my own children as well as conducting interventions with other children privately for now. Training the leaders of tomorrow is wonderful!

Additionally, I took a  jump into the unknown and am now working with mindfulness in the workplace (designing programmes and workshops on mindful leadership for women for instance), coaching individuals using mindfulness techniques as well as integrating the mindfulness approach into my communications work, i.e. mindful listening training with teams, responding to emails mindfully etc.

Mindfulness has become the “umbrella” under which I offer my services and my state of being… I find it deeply rewarding and fulfilling to work with people, accompanying them on their path of finding themselves again (not to say becoming human again). It is like the discovery of something that has been lost for a long time.

I am also now working more in-depth on projects aiming at bringing mindfulness to the formal school education sector here in Switzerland. The effects of what the leadership theory calls VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) can be strongly felt here too. Everything is in disruption, people are running around without liking what they do, feeling insecure and unhappy with less time every month.

I am now following my gut feeling and my inner guidance and although it is not easy, I feel that I am at the right place at the right time.

So, now you know it all!

Here’s wishing you an excellent Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!

Thanks for being on this journey with me and looking forward to interacting and maybe seeing you again next year.

Jenny

Mindful Leadership and Women

Jenny Ebermann Leadership Women ServicesRecently I was asked to develop a Mindful Leadership Programme for women. You might ask why women need a specific program. Well, being a woman myself and having worked internationally in various industries for many years, I have to say that I very often needed specific skills and competences. Actually, many of the women I worked for and with did so too.

Be it self-confidence or resilience, the capacity to be patient and take a project to the very end, dealing with emotions in an appropriate way, learning to lead using emotional intelligence and empathy (and that it is completely ok to do so)… and much more.

As women, we also often wear various different hats, juggling between priorities, needs and tasks. Usually, we end up putting ourselves last on the list of people and things to take care of. Right?

But in fact, I am no “super woman” and I don’t have multiple pairs of hands and heads. Instead, I had to learn to listen to myself and to grow into the different roles life made me play. And actually, if I look around the world, I feel very grateful that I have had the chance to receive an education simply because I grew up where I did. Many other women did not get the same opportunity, unfortunately…

I hence decided to put up a Mindful Leadership program for women in form of modular workshops. Depending on the target audience and the respective backgrounds and experiences, self-awareness (management) and self-leadership, interpersonal and intercultural communications as well as presentation and relationship management will be accompanied by dialogue, learning and discussion groups. Stillness, inner reflection and other mindfulness based techniques will be woven into the program in order to allow for the best possible outcome for the participants.

Leadership is firstly about being able to lead yourself in whatever situation you might be in; secondly it is about leading others, unselfishly and compassionately so that goals can be reached together, in co-creation. By doing that, one “eye” always keeps looking at oneself, whereas the other is looking at the people in front as well as the organizations or structure as a whole.

Interested to learn more? I am just a click away…

Jenny

Mindful leadership or simply being human after all

Stairs with lightComing out of a Self Managing Leadership Training (SML) from the Oxford Leadership Academy, I feel very inspired. Indeed, the training provides for an excellent opportunity to look into oneself and start planning your own leadership development by looking at your past, future and most importantly present soft and hard skills. Navigating through inner values, strengths and weaknesses as well as purpose and vision finally allows to create a mindful action plan that will pave the way into new behaviors and reaching out for the highest and best.

Exactly as the “Heart of Effective Leadership Training” from Initiatives of Change (IofC) that I attended in September this year, storytelling, conversations and stillness play a major part in the structure of the training…

As you will all appreciate, leadership:

  • cannot be taught
  • comes from within depending on choices and context
  • is all about relationships you create with other people.

In fact, leadership is not for you (although it starts with yourself of course), it really is for the people you serve. And: if you have a strong sense of purpose, you will definitely attract people around you and inspire them!

Mindful leadership is definitely the way forward co-creating innovative spaces and creatively shaping the future, leading people onto new paths by simply teaching to look inside ourselves again and rediscover that we are human after all!

I walk down the street

Today, I would like to share a poem from Portia Nelson with you that I find truly inspirational… I hope you do so too!

IMG_0366“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.”

(Found on Goodreads)

Where are you in your life?

Are you downloading the same old story or trying the unknown leap into the future letting go of everything you knew this far?

Here’s a great graph by Kelvy Bird shared via Otto Scharmer on LinkedIn:

IMG_0940.JPG

The Heart of Effective Leadership

CauxThis weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a “Heart of Effective Leadership” Training given by IofC (Initiatives of Change). Instead of speaking only to the brain, this training focuses on the human being at the center of everything. Change has to come from oneself, i.e. to be an effective leader, you have to tap your own inner source of wisdom.

Apart from amazing people and inspiring stories, I also enjoyed listening to Dr. Feena May from the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross). According to her studies and research, the 5 capabilities that make leadership work are:

  • Presence – meaning being fully present, with all one has to offer
  • Relating to others
  • Sense-making – “How can I make sense of the information that I am receiving so that you can make something out of it”
  • Taking action
  • Service aspect – “Why am I willing to step into this leadership role?” (not to be mistaken with servant leadership); this aspect should always include others and not only ourselves, such as the community, the company, wider organization etc.

Finally, a key take-away for me, which might also be valuable for you, was a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke (Letters to a young Poet, 1903):

“(…) I would like to beg you (…) as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books, written in a foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.

Perhaps then, some day in the future you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer”. – translated from German

Have a great week,

Jenny

Changing reality: You can do it!

Finding SelfToday, I would like to share with you two very simple concepts that have deeply moved me tonight when I read them in “Leading from the emerging future” from Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer:

“(…) form follows attention or consciousness. We can change reality by changing the inner place from which we operate.” (p.146)

This means that if you are able to open up and let go, new ideas and thoughts will emerge… connection to yourSelf is thus the key to growth and fulfillment… it sounds easy but the “letting go” piece definitely needs time – at least for me! You can read more on Scharmer’s “Theory U” here.

Have a great evening or day!

Jenny