In almost every situation someone is called upon to lead. Taking up the call involves a conscious choice, and yet for many leaders, even those who are very experienced, not much consciousness is applied. If you ask a roomful of CEOs how they got where they are today -I’ve done this dozens of times when teaching a course on leadership for business people – the top answer is always “I was lucky.” Looking back, CEOs and other top executives mainly recognize that they wound up in the right place at the right time.
There are courses in leadership everywhere, and most of them, so far as I can tell, use case studies. The performance of successful leaders is analyzed, with comparisons to less successful leaders. These courses no doubt produce a set of skills, but the tendency is for these skills to be technical and managerial – human skills are far harder to teach and pass on. Yet they are the key to persuading other people to follow you.
I’ve taken a different tack, arguing that leadership is all about consciousness. It has to be, since the response that a great leader inspires (loyalty, respect, emulation, love) is life-changing. Such responses are not evoked by well-trained managers. Skills can be developed in consciousness. This isn’t a mystical area, although we must go beyond practical psychology. A successful leader isn’t a psychological manipulator, power grabber, bully, or public relations hack. Success, as it is practiced consciously, brings a better life, inner and outer, to both the leader and the group he leads.
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We’ll focus on seven skills that fit a conscious leader, organized into the acronymsLEADERS. Below is a thumbnail sketch of these skills, which will be discussed one by one in the next seven posts.
L = Look and listen. Do this with your senses, being an unbiased observer who has not judged anything in advance. Do this with your heart, obeying your truest feelings. Finally, do this with your soul, responding with vision and deep purpose.
E = Emotional bonding. Leading from the soul means going beyond melodrama and crisis mode, getting rid of emotional toxicity to understand the specific needs of your followers.
A = Awareness. This means being aware of the following questions that underlie every challenge: Who am I? What do I want? What does the situation demand? A leader must ask these questions of himself and inspire his team to ask for themselves.
D = Doing. A leader must be action-oriented. In whatever he does he must serve as a role model, held responsible for the promises he has made. This requires persistence but also the ability to view any situation with flexibility and humor.
E = Empowerment. The soul’s power comes from self-awareness, which is responsive to feedback but independent of the good or bad opinion of others. Empowerment isn’t selfish. It raises the status of leader and follower together.
R = Responsibility. This means showing initiative, taking mature risks rather than reckless ones, walking the talk, having integrity, and living up to your inner values. Seen from the level of the soul, a leader’s greatest responsibility is to lead the group on the path of higher consciousness.
S = Synchronicity. This is a mysterious ingredient from the unconscious that all great leaders harness. Synchronicity is the ability to create good luck and find invisible support that carries a leader beyond predicted outcomes to a higher plane. In spiritual terms, synchronicity is the ultimate ability to connect any need with an answer from the soul.
Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 70 books with twenty-one New York Times bestsellers and co-author with Rudolph Tanzi of Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-being. (Harmony) and serves as Adjunct Professor at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Adjunct Professor at Columbia Business School, Columbia University.