The Forgotten Leadership
Most leadership development programs do one or both of the following: they generate and work from a comprehensive list of desirable competencies such as “ability to negotiate persuasively” or “ability to think strategically” that a leader is measured against, or else they seek to inspire by benchmarking the qualities of well-known leaders in the past and present, such as the leadership secrets of Peter the Great or Jack Welch. The business sections of most book stores are full of the latter.
Both approaches share a serious flaw: someone besides the leader herself is defining the qualities to develop. These qualities are “out there” in the world where leadership research is done or else they are embodied in the great hero and are to be emulated.
The process of using these models contradicts the very nature of leadership itself. They encourage leaders to look outside themselves for answers, direction, and inspiration. If we want to look back at historical figures we need to ask a more fundamental question: who was Alexander the Great, for instance, emulating? How about Julius Caesar? The answer is: nobody.
Their daring, vision, persistence, incredible energy levels, ability to inspire loyalty in the face of outrageous odds and their wisdom all came from one place and one place only: deep within themselves.
Business schools and leadership development programs rarely go beyond the rational mind when discussing the inner dimension of leadership. For instance, leaders are challenged to understand and expand the mental models that may limit what they believe is possible, or constrain the ways they approach problems. In our experience it’s not that easy. Our work with business leaders over the past fifteen years has convinced us that exceptional leadership, whether the style is charismatic or low-key, ultimately originates from a person having made a powerful connection to his or her Inner Truth. This is a center of awareness that is located in a part of our Being, in our very essence, that is separate from the intellect or the rational mind as we know it. Simply changing one’s thinking patterns doesn’t engage this center.
This is not a new idea, in fact it is as old as the hills. The ancient Egyptians believed that the heart was more important than the brain — in fact, Pharaohs were mummified with the brain removed and the heart intact. Socrates knew this, as did Plato his student. But somewhere along the line, probably during the “Enlightenment” era in Europe, we lost sight of this profound truth about human nature. The consequences of “I think, therefore I am” took over instead.
Our Inner Truth is often an untapped leadership capacity that is the source of our wisdom, clearest intuition, energy, creativity, passion for our work and love of life. It is the root of all the other numerous desirable leadership competencies or skills, and the only source of a leader's uniqueness. It can be awakened and developed through simple practices that bring its full potential into our lives, our businesses, our organizations. But like anything worthwhile, it takes effort and persistence to make this happen, yet the rewards are great.
When business leaders strongly align with their Inner Truth, they discover the secret to shifting themselves, their team, department or entire organization to higher levels of productivity, prosperity, cooperation, creativity, and passion for the work. Improved decision-making processes, clearer perceptions of business challenges, higher-quality intuition, better customer and internal relationships, deeper levels of organizational trust and integrity, and fewer costly mistakes and stress-related illnesses are some of the results our clients have gained from using this approach.
We draw on techniques from both ancient spiritual traditions and current psychophysiological research to help leaders align with their Inner Truth. A profound shift in one’s internal operating center gradually occurs as the intellect’s analytic ability becomes one tool among many, rather than the guiding force behind the personality. This is not simply a matter of developing “emotional intelligence” or learning to still the mind through meditation. Rather it’s getting grounded in a level of our Being that is deeper than the mind/ego and then bringing the fruits of that into every aspect of business, no matter how technically complicated. So it’s immensely practical.
Our clients tell us that suddenly people at work are seeking them out for consultation on business problems, or else co-workers spontaneously come up to them and say, “There’s something different about you. Whatever it is, I want some of it. What’s your secret?” Without even trying, the power of their presence to influence and transform those around them starts to occur.
Imagine what can happen if the leader is a CEO -- the Inner Truth of every individual in the company begins to constellate around the CEO’s Inner Truth. A loyalty born of love begins to flourish. A deep magnetic alignment to the company’s and CEO’s vision, mission, and goals takes place and then the impossible begins to happen. This is the secret of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Peter the Great and that stellar 5th grade teacher in your kid's school.
Joe DiSabatino founded Phoenix Consulting Associates in 1994. He teaches and coaches business and organizational leaders and teams to succeed through connecting to the source of their Inner Truth, wisdom and creativity. He can be reached at: 301-972-5094. His e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.phoenixleadership.com for additional information.
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