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Leadership Skills

Still I Rise

 Our Leadership Skills are inspired by the Japanese Sun Amaterasu. Like her, no matter what obstacles we face, we Rise every day to give warmth and light to others. 

Breaking The Rules 

We draw our inspiration from Notorious Female Pirates including Anne Bony - The Ultimate Rule Breakers. Part of the Founder's Motivation is named after "Quinne Anne's Revenge" and loves pirates due to her upbringing by her father - a Russian Navy Captain. 

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By following these Guidelines you will practice one of

Leadership Skill - Rule Breaking.

Effective leadership is characterized by effective communication. Skilled storytellers are effective communicators. Therefore, the manager who is a skilled storyteller will, in all likelihood, also be an effective leader. For centuries, stories have been used to connect people, teach, train, bring people on board, enlighten people, and even boost morale, and encourage and motivate. These roles are all expected of effective leaders.


Public Speaking 

We draw our inspiration for public speaking from Hindu Speech Goddess Saraswati.


These Guidelines are Copied from Gary Genard.

By following these Guidelines you will practice one of

Leadership Skills - Public Speaking.

Public speaking allows you, as a leader, to show your team what you are thinking and what direction you want to take: they will see you as not only an actual leader but as a thought leader, helping to motivate them to the action that you are seeking from them.

  1. Make the Audience the Center of Your Universe. You're not the focus of the event! Get that essential truth into your presentation DNA. Ultimately, every good speaker cares more about the audience than themselves. This can be a tough prescription to fill if you have speech anxiety, which tends to wrap you in a cocoon of anxiety and self-consciousness. But the good news is this: focusing fully on the audience lifts a tremendous burden from your shoulders in terms of worrying about your performance. To make your message new and exciting for you and your audience is the most wonderful thing that can happen to you as a speaker.

  2. Focus on Relationships. If the audience is the center of your universe, you're already focused on the right task: establishing and maintaining a relationship with them. Your speech's content can never live on its own—if it could, why would there be a presentation? Three relationships are operating during a speech: between you and the audience; you and the content; and the audience and the content. In the first, you engage, interest, and activate your listeners; in the second, you interpret your content for those listeners; and in the third, the audience relates to your content because you've pointed out why it matters to them. Pay attention to all three relationships.

  3. Understand Your Purpose. Too many speakers confuse the topic and purpose. For instance, I'll ask a client, "What's your purpose with this presentation?" And the response will be, "Well, I'm going to talk about—"  "No," I say, "that's your topic . . . what's your purpose?" Then it becomes clear what I mean. Yes, the information is what you're there to talk about. But it definitely isn't what you're there to accomplish. Audiences hope to be better for the experience of listening to you—and that's exactly what you must try to make happen. Being clear on your purpose will help you gather exactly the right information to accomplish it.

  4. Use Your Body. Your body is a powerful communication tool. You're not a brain in a bell jar communicating telepathically. Audiences need you to give physical expression to your message. That, of course, means understanding how to use body language as a speaker. Suggestions: Stand rather than sit if you have a choice (so you don't eliminate 50% of your physical presence). Come out from behind the lectern if possible. Make your gestures few in number and well-defined. And discover an actor's secrets for commanding a stage.  

  5. Color Your Vocal. DeliveryYour voice is the most flexible speaking tool you own apart from the brain itself. It's capable of a wide range of coloration and effects, from astonishment and incredulity to mockery and seduction, and a hundred other intentions. To speak without vocal variation means using a "mono" or single tone, from which we derive the word monotonous. If you're limited vocally, work with a speech coach to learn the vocal dynamics that will, quite simply, make you a more exciting speaker. If you are neurodiverse, it is okay to be monotonous, just warn the listeners before you start. 

  6. Boost Your Skills at Q & A. I call Q & A "the forgotten avenue of audience persuasion." Virtually anyone can give a reasonable presentation if they prepare and practice enough. But what happens when the questions, challenges, and push-back begin? The speaker who can handle that situation with style, knowledge, and a bit of self-deprecating humor, is the person who embodies presentation leadership. And while you're at it, brush up on my 7 "danger zones" of Q & A.

  7. You can give us your impression as a speaker of this workshop as a Feeback.

Active Listening

We draw our inspiration for public speaking from the Ancient Mesopotamian Goddess Inanna

"The one opening her ears is Inanna, the Great Goddess of Heaven and Earth (~3500 – 1500 BCE, Sumeria/Mesopotamia). Her story is the oldest written goddess myth, and what a goddess she is: Erotic, wise, powerful, conniving, loving, fierce, courageous, and ruthless.

In the Sumerian language, the word for ear also means wisdom. Inanna is called to listen to the Great Below, the realm of dream, death, depression, and the unconscious because she seeks wisdom. Without knowledge of loss and mortality, she is not whole."

These Guidelines are Copied from Zendoway

By following these Guidelines you will practice one of

Leadership Skill - Active Listening.

​The case for active listening is clear. Leaders who practice active listening will be able to enjoy the benefits of improved relationships, less stress and frustration, more compassion, and a broader understanding of others. Being empathetic, paying attention, avoiding judgment, being responsive, and being aware of their own inner responses will all help make leaders active and effective listeners. 

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1. Be Empathetic. Active listening begins with empathy. A person who is empathetic can see things from another person’s point of view; they are not limited to their own viewpoint. Empathetic listening helps improve understanding, respect, and trust. Being empathetic can require a great deal of patience and practice and can be especially difficult when personal issues, struggles, and problems cloud your listening. With practice, however, you will be (correctly) perceived as being more caring and understanding, and because of this, you will be able to help de-escalate tense discussions. 

2. Give Your Full Attention. Focusing on what a speaker is communicating through both words and body language is a central part of active listening. It may seem like a simple skill, but uninterrupted focus on another person requires discipline. Technology and other distractions can easily shift our focus off the speaker, and he or she will usually sense our wanderings. This usually interrupts the flow of communication. Listeners must put away their devices and refrain from watching the clock or moving around. Active listening is about being fully present—giving the speaker undivided attention and being mindful of what is being said.

3. Refrain from Making Judgments. Another essential part of active listening is suspending judgment. Speakers who feel judged by a listener’s counterpoints and disagreements may be reluctant to finish their points and might feel that such an environment is not a safe place in which to share. When leaders judge, they expose their lack of maturity and their difficulty in welcoming differences of opinions. Great leaders listen to understand and welcome different opinions and ideas. They listen without assumptions about why a speaker is saying certain things or using a certain tone, and they treat other people’s opinions with compassion and respect.

4. Respond to Show Understanding. Active listeners show that they understand what a speaker is communicating. This can take a more subtle form such as smiling and making eye contact or a more direct form such as asking questions and verifying understanding. Relevant questions show the speaker that the listener has been paying attention, and in turn, the speaker’s responses can help the listener learn more about the topic at hand and develop more interest in what is being said. Questions also help build rapport between the speaker and listener. Shared understanding is essential to a conversation and can grow when active listeners clarify points. Paraphrasing and summarizing what a speaker says can help halt miscommunication and conflict.

5. Be Aware of Your Own Inner Response. Active listening at its best involves listening not only to the person speaking but also to one’s own inner response. Your inner response shapes how you listen, so the greater your internal awareness, the more control you will have over your responses. For instance, a listener who is not aware that they are internally judging a speaker will not work to suspend their judgment. Or, a listener who is not aware that a speaker’s story has touched a chord in their own life may respond shortsightedly out of their own experiences rather than listening for the story’s unique impact on the speaker’s life. 

Conflict Resolution 

We draw our inspiration from The Fierce Onna-Bugeisha Japan's Badass Female Samurai. The link has been kindly suggested by Daniel Lee.  

"Known as onna bugeisha, these female samurai who fought beside and against male samurais are an important part of Japan's military history. To protect their homes and villages as well as assist in larger defensive campaigns against rival clans, they received an extensive amount of training. Unlike their Y-chromosome peers, they preferred a long pole with a blade on the end called a naginata which counterbalanced their smaller stature. They were also well-trained at ranged weapons such as bows and the traditional martial art Tantōjutsu."

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By following these Guidelines you will practice one of

Leadership Skill - Conflict Management Skills.

Leaders who use conflict management skills can provide guidance and direction toward conflict resolution. A common trait of leaders is they are able to build teams that work well together and help to set the tone for the organization.

When you find yourself in conflict, you can use the below manual. 


Public Conflict Resolution

Ronald J. Hustedde, College of Agriculture, University of Kentucky
Steve Smutko, Cooperative Extension, North Carolina State University
Jarad J. Kapsa, Sociology Department, University of Kentucky

This manual is a train-the-trainers tool. It is designed to be taught and used primarily by extension educators, community officials, and citizen leaders. The basic goal of the manual is to give workshop participants the applicable knowledge and skills to help teach others how to identify, understand, manage, and when possible and desirable, resolve conflicts within their own communities. The materials that follow and the training sessions themselves are resources and guides. It is not our intention for Lemonade to be taken as a map on how to educate people to deal with conflict. These are concepts and skills that training participants can adapt to meet the needs of their constituency. Just as every community faces unique conflicts, so must the precise manner in which we confront and deal with conflict be of its own design. We hope you leave this training with (at least) two things:

  1. different ways of understanding the sources and forms of conflict; and

  2. concrete skills for addressing it.

Below is a quick excerpt from their Handout "A Road Map To Identifying Five Types Of Conflict."

The main types of conflicts are below. Most common psychological trauma stems from Relationship-based conflicts:

  1. Data Conflicts

  2. Relationship Conflicts

  3. Value Conflicts

  4. Structural Conflicts

  5. Interest Conflicts

  1. A Road Map To Identifying Five Types of Conflict:

    1.  Data Conflicts

    2.  Relationship Conflicts

    3.  Value Conflicts

    4. Structural Conflicts

  2. Interest Conflicts Data Conflicts Caused By:

    1. Lack of information

    2. Misinformation

    3. Differing views on what’s relevant

    4. Different interpretations of data

    5. Different assessment procedures

  3. Ways To Address Data Conflicts:

    1. Reach agreement on what data are important

    2. Agree on the process to collect data

    3. Develop common criteria to assess data

    4. Use third-party experts to get an outside opinion or break the deadlock

  4. Relationship Conflicts Caused By:

    1. Strong emotions

    2. Misperceptions/stereotypes

    3. Poor communications

    4. Miscommunications

    5. Repetitive negative behavior

  5. Ways To Address Relationship Conflicts:

    1.  Control negative expressions through procedures and ground rules

    2. Promote a process that legitimizes feelings

    3. Clarify perceptions - build positive perceptions

    4. Improve quality and quantity of communication

    5. Block negative repetitive behavior by changing the structure

    6. Encourage positive problem-solving attitudes

  6. Value Conflicts Caused By:

    1. Different criteria for evaluating ideas or behavior

    2. Exclusive intrinsically valuable goals

    3. Different ways of life, ideology, and religion

  7. Ways To Address Value Conflicts:

    1. Avoid defining the problem in terms of values

    2. Allow parties to agree and disagree

    3. Create a sphere of influence in which one set of values dominates

    4. Search for a superordinate goal that all parties agree to

  8. Structural Conflicts Caused By:

    1. Destructive patterns of behavior or interaction

    2. Unequal control, ownership, distribution of resources

    3. Unequal power and authority

    4. Geographical, physical, or environmental factors that hinder cooperation

    5. Time constraints

  9. Ways To Address Structural Conflicts:

    1. Clearly define and change roles

    2. Replace destructive behavior patterns

    3. Reallocate ownership or control of resources

    4. Establish a fair and mutually acceptable decision-making process

    5. Change negotiations from positional to interest-based bargaining

    6. Modify means of parties (less coercion, more persuasion)

    7. Change physical and environmental relations

  10. Interest Conflicts Caused By:

    1. Perceived or actual competitive positions/interests

    2. Content

    3. Procedures

    4. Psychological interest

  11. Ways To Address Interest Conflicts:

    1. Focus on interests, not positions

    2. Look for objective criteria

    3. Look for solutions that meet the needs of all parties

    4. Search for ways to expand options/resources

    5. Develop trade-offs to satisfy the interests of different strength.


We draw our inspiration from Joan of Arc

"Joan Of Arc is a patron saint of France, honored as a defender of the French nation for her role in the siege of Orléans and her insistence on the coronation of Charles VII of France during the Hundred Years' War. Stating that she was acting under divine guidance, she became a military leader who transcended gender roles and gained recognition as a savior of France." Joan of Arc was also an object of adoration by Mark Twain. He wrote a book about her, which was not as popular as "Tom Sawyer" and "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"

By following these Guidelines you will practice one of

Leadership Skill - Leading by Influence.

Power of influence is one of the single most important qualities of a leader. 

These guidelines have been copied from Alexis Croswell. You can see guidance on different leadership skills on this website and download the ebook: "10 Leadership Styles You Should Know."

Leadership Influence and Self-Awareness

Nerves are abuzz as business students file into the lecture hall for one of the most famous classes at Stanford Graduate School of Business, Interpersonal Dynamics. It doesn’t teach financial modeling; instead, it focuses on soft skills, earning it the affectionate course moniker of Touchy Feely. This cohort of twelve heard rumors about what was in store. Today, they’ll be required to stack-rank themselves against their peers. Individually, they’ll receive direct feedback and have to face the realities of how much, or how little leadership influence they possess in the group. Tears will be shed. No one wants to be at the bottom of the stack, but someone will fill that slot.

Touchy Feely teaches communication, feedback, and other important soft skills to students preparing to lead organizations. One of the key exercises, The Influence Stack, imparts powerful lessons amidst rare and genuine vulnerability. As a facilitator, I’ve observed this forced, awkward, and often painful dance. Inevitably some people feel hurt, but they learn how to effectively increase their sphere of influence and impact.


Top Actions of Influential Leaders

The Influence Stack exercise involves students stack-ranking themselves from the most to least influential in the group. The process is repeated each class period until all 12 students have unanimously organized the stack.

After years of executive coaching and facilitating exercises like the Influence Stack, I’ve found six common actions that help leaders become, and remain influential:

  1. Engage in Conflict
  2. Have a Strong Voice
  3. Listen With Empathy
  4. Show Vulnerability
  5. Be Decisive
  6. Demonstrate Non-defensiveness

Power of influence is one of
the single most important
qualities of a leader.


Soft Skills Are the Key to Influential Leadership

Power of influence is the single most important quality of a leader. Without it, a leader isn’t going to inspire action or drive success. While “hard” or easily measured skills can contribute to a leader’s influence within an organization, soft skills are what separates good leaders from truly influential ones. Here’s a breakdown of those essential competencies:

1) Engage In Conflict

The ability to skillfully engage in conflict is crucial in a group setting. Leaders can’t shy away from conflict; in fact, they can use it to their advantage.  Healthy conflict in this context means the ability to disagree while managing against inappropriate anger,  hyperbolic speech, and accusation that normally characterize unhealthy conflict.  Avoidance of conflict does not win trust for a leader because people want to follow someone who can advocate with strength when the moment requires it.

2) Have A Strong Voice

In the Stanford Interpersonal Dynamics setting, the students who speak up receive higher ranks in the influence stack. It reasons that having a voice, and using it, is a primary way to influence others. In this case, a “strong voice” doesn’t always mean a loud voice.  Strength can be achieved by sheer volume but also with clarity, tone, cadence, and other qualities. Individuals who don’t communicate their points of view well, often struggle to shape a common narrative and affect group decision-making.

3) Listen With Empathy

The most influential people can seamlessly balance between inserting their voice and engaging with empathic ears. Knowing when to sit silent and actively listen to others allows leaders to successfully navigate conflict.

4) Show Vulnerability

The most influential students find a way to demonstrate vulnerability without oversharing. Vulnerability, when appropriately balanced, forges connections and builds trust. People who are unable to share in an open way struggle to build close relationships and win allies.

5) Be Direct

Students who don’t clearly articulate their needs or expectations in a direct manner typically fall to the bottom of the stack. An influential leader must be able to communicate their feelings without hiding too much behind nuance, jokes, or caveat-ed speech.

6) Demonstrate Non-defensiveness 

Non-defensive people are capable of hearing a contrary point of view without reacting.  The most influential leader can receive negative feedback and even judgment without losing their balance.  At the heart of non-defensiveness is the ability to respond rather than react. Non-defensive people may still get angry and advocate for their point of view, but they do it while maintaining an open mind.

Story Telling 

We draw our inspiration from Scheherazade.

"Against her father's wishes, Scheherazade volunteered to marry Monarch Shahryar, who on discovering that his first wife was unfaithful to him, resolved to marry a new virgin every day and to have her beheaded the next morning before she could dishonor him. on discovering that his first wife was unfaithful to him, resolved to marry a new virgin every day and to have her beheaded the next morning before she could dishonor him.

Scheherazade had perused the books, annals, and legends of preceding Kings, and the stories, examples, and instances of bygone men and things; indeed it was said that she had collected a thousand books of histories relating to antique races and departed rulers. She had perused the works of the poets and knew them by heart; she had studied philosophy and the sciences, arts, and accomplishments.

At night Scheherazade told stories to the king, who lay awake and listened with awe. She always stopped in the middle - just like Netflix TV Series. The king asked her to finish, but Scheherazade said there was no time, as dawn was breaking. So the king spared her life for one day so she could finish the story the next night. The following night Scheherazade finished the story and then began a second, more exciting tale, which she again stopped halfway through at dawn. Again, the king spared her life for one more day so that she could finish the second story.

Thus the king kept Scheherazade alive day by day, as he eagerly anticipated the conclusion of each previous night's story. At the end of 1,001 nights, and 1,000 stories, Scheherazade finally told the king that she had no more tales to tell him. During the preceding 1,001 nights, however, the king had fallen in love with Scheherazade. He wisely spared her life permanently and made her his queen." 

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By following these Guidelines you will practice one of

Leadership Skill - Story Telling.

Effective leadership is characterized by effective communication. Skilled storytellers are effective communicators. Therefore, the manager who is a skilled storyteller will, in all likelihood, also be an effective leader. For centuries, stories have been used to connect people, teach, train, bring people on board, enlighten people, and even boost morale, and encourage and motivate. These roles are all expected of effective leaders.


Challenging the Status Quo

By following these Guidelines you will practice one of

Leadership Skill - Challenging the Status Quo.

Challenging the status quo for leaders of a company means providing alternative ideas for ways the company operates. In some cases, you may notice a challenge in need of a solution. In other cases, you may detect an opportunity the company could take to improve its processes. 



We draw our inspiration from Vasilisa The Beautiful - The Ultimate Hardship Overcomer.


By following these Guidelines you will practice one of

Leadership Skill - Leading with Conviction.

According to a survey from Gartner®, 50 percent of business leaders lack confidence in their own ability to lead. Out of 2,800 people studied, only half said they were “well-equipped to lead their organization in the future.” In other words, self-limiting beliefs hinder entrepreneurs, executives, and managers from performing their jobs with complete conviction in their abilities. When you overcome self-limiting beliefs, you are able to lead with conviction. 


Dealing with Unfair Critisim

We draw our inspiration from Baba Yaga - The Ultimate Demonized SuperHero

By following these Guidelines you will practice one of

Leadership Skill - Handling Unfair Criticism.

This is why leadership is in crisis management mode. Authority is being over-leveraged as a personal benefit to advance hidden agendas, rather than as a privilege and a responsibility to wield influence over adverse circumstances and turn them into opportunities. But the latter takes hard work and strategic focus.


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Handling Uncertainty

We draw our inspiration from Eris - A Goddess of Chaos. Computer Scientists love her so much that they follow "Principia Discordia", the main peril of which is Kallisti - The Golden Apple - an apple of Discord. 


By following these Guidelines you will practice one of

Leadership Skill - Handling Uncertainty.

To lead teams in VUCA environments, you have to embrace uncertainty. 


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