This issue of Soulful Leadership has been raised a number of times in the last twenty years. Recently programs have been offered by universities. Here are a few thoughts for consideration:
First, what is Important – this is a very critical issue for leadership:
The Soul. We should make no amends for aiming at this. Without it, all the emphasis on things like ethics is like the hollow clanking of an empty barrel.
Second, the issue of Consciousness:
Many in the “spiritual” community continue to believe that all that is necessary is a shift in Consciousness if we are to change the world. Here they are only partially on target. If a shift in consciousness were all that was necessary, there would be no more smokers -- this consciousness was clear four decades ago, but even when people are conscious, they still do things that are harmful. Trying to impact the subconscious has its limits because thinking positive thoughts to neutralize the negative, or visualization without a real plan of action is naive and produces marginal results, at best. The subconscious is difficult to manipulate.
While there is no doubt that all constructive change first comes from Conscious Awareness, it is essential to understand that two other elements are necessary:
A clear Architecture (frameworks, practices, strategies, leadership, etc) that can define and frame a new belief system and thus a conscious design about how one will achieve the new vision. Without this design for the new result, the mind is left to some vague notions about the future, which, in essence, is simply “hope” .... the great opiate of the ineffective.
Powerful Action that will produce concrete, measurable, visible results that either confirm or contradict our Awareness and Architecture, and enable corrective action. To understand the power of action on the brain, the rehabilitation of stroke victims is illustrative of how the brain can cut a new pathway by engaging in actual motion. A person suffering a stroke will fail to walk again if they think: “I will only walk again if and when my brain heals. Instead one must start the walking process for the mind to heal. Action produces new realities and experiences that are the evidence the mind needs to change the beliefs and thinking about what’s real and what’s possible. That’s the origin of the expression: “Success breeds success.” Professional athletes use both visualization and physical practice to achieve excellence.
What’s missing in the minds of many spiritual advocates is the connection between Awareness and Action -- which is Architecture, specifically about Synergy and Trust.
Third, the relationship between Soul and Ego:
Those who have taken the Buddhist view that the ego is “bad” create terrible incongruity within individuals.
It just cannot be the case that the ego is inherently bad.
God would never put something in us that was inherently evil.
The ego goes awry only when it loses its guiding force: the Soul.
When one enables the Soul to be the Guiding Force, and enables the Ego to be the Driving Force that aligns with the Soul, then massive energy occurs because the Soul and Ego become Synergistic.
Fourth, the power of Synergistic Co-Creation:
In Paul Lawrence’s book, Driven he speaks of the Four Driving Forces in humans:
- Creation, and
When Bonding (the essence of the Soul Drive) and Creation are linked in unison, Synergy is the result.
It’s essential to understand that Synergy is the deepest yearning of the human Soul (not peace).
We must focus more on Co-Creation as the avenue to Synergy.[
Fifth, the essence of Leadership:
In my analysis of Great Leaders, they all do 3 things really well:
- 1. Strategic Vision:
Set a powerful/noble vision that inspires,, and chart an innovative strategy that generates a significant advantage over the ordinary.
- 2. Trust Culture:
Create a system of trust that channels human energy and unleashes co-creativity, which is focused towards the strategic vision.
- 3. Operations:
Establish coherent organizational processes, measures, and rewards systems that reinforce #1 & #2.
All these require a soul and a creative intellect that are in tune with each other and tuned into a what service they must provide to their constituent stakeholders.
These ideas are missing most current “spiritual” thinking.
Strategy: Most spiritual thinking focuses on shared vision. While shared vision is a critical component, vision without strategy is like eating dinner with a knife, but without a fork. The problem with so many visionary leaders is that they have great visions without either a strategy to bring the vision to reality. This lack of understanding about Cooperative Strategy is totally a major fallibility, and one key reason why most of the spiritual alliances don’t work.
There is also a glossing over the issue of Trust is why there is so much betrayal in behind the scenes in their own organizations.
How to become a Champion is a Leadership concept that Phil Zimbardo emphasizes so powerfully in the Lucifer Effect. Championing through the Soul is the essence of Synergistic Leadership.
Lastly, without a good idea of operational execution to ensure vision is transformed into concrete results.
Sixth, the nature of Synergy:
Many in the spiritual community are deep believers in the value of Peace. We should never dispute its value, but the nature of peace is far too placid for the leader to engender fully.
The world has aimed for peace for thousands of years, but we aren’t any closer to it now than before.
Why? Because we are aiming too low!
We need to acknowledge that what we really yearn for is Synergy, and that requires a new framework for thinking and acting that first honors, then synergizes differentials in humans.
Without this, nothing permanent happens.
Leaders are much more attracted to Synergy than Peace.