Leaders Should be the Symbolic Soul of a Community — Deepak Chopra
You don’t have to be religious to think you have a soul. Scientists are starting to understand more and more about how are brains functions via imaging the functioning brain during activities. These studies have shown that emotions may explain inconsistencies in human behavior that are deemed to be irrational. Irrational responses are those that deviate from what would be optimal for survival. These emotional responses are unique to each and every one of us and evolve over time.
Sure, it may just be a bunch of random neurons firing that makes us, well us, but for simplicity, we will name these emotional overrides our soul and explore how it influences our leadership style.
Your Different Personas
Sometimes people have different personas depending on their environment. In one situation, they may be a supporter or a dad or a mom or or a leader or a boss or even just a bystander.
Even though your personas may change, all of them rely on your underlying soul. Your soul is always at the ready to guide you beyond your primal instincts and into the realm of compassion, justice, commitment, morality and sense of purpose.
This is an important concept to understand. It’s the underlying soul that every leader wants to develop and nurture to serve them and their supporters well.
Developing and Nurturing Your Soul
A soulful leader understands that it’s about the cause, supporters, mission or task and not about themselves. From a survival perspective, this is completely counterintuitive but does have some grounding in our tribal nature where we had to cooperate to survive.
Developing and nurturing the leaders soul requires a tremendous amount of patience, practice and an understanding of the true nature of leadership. Without such an understanding, you end up being a mediocre leader.
The True Nature of Leadership
Leadership is first and foremost about collecting supporters and resources to accomplish a common goal that could not be accomplished individually. The leaders main objective is to marshal enough supporters and other resources to achieve the groups objectives in a timely manner.
These objectives are beyond the leader. They are even beyond the group of supporters that choose to follow the leader. In reality, the leader is the focal point for the effort — nothing more, nothing less.
This may seem simplistic but it’s not. The focal point of any effort is the point of maximum intensity. It’s the point that moves the collective in the direction it needs to go. It’s this focal point that the leader needs to be comfortable with and also guide by digging deep in their soul for guidance and inspiration.
Ways to Be a More Soulful Leader
Great leaders are constantly trying to develop their skills — be it organizational, oral or operational. These skills give the leader the means to achievement but never the meaning behind achievement. That’s where the soul comes in.
Our souls are what guide our actions. It’s the soul that makes those emotional decisions that deflect our behavior away from the primitive into the cognitive. It’s our soul that catches us when we are about to make decisions that have far reaching consequences.
To help you develop and strengthen your leadership soul, ponder these simple techniques:
Be mindful of your impact: Leaders have a tremendous amount of power. Even the most mundane comment or action has repercussions. Tread lightly on off-handed comments and always be optimistic.
Think like a novice: The curse of knowledge makes it sometimes hard to connect. Thinking like a novice gives you the perspective that not everyone can or will understand the effort as well as you do. Keep it simple but don’t make it stupid.
Work in the trenches: There is nothing like seeing an operation from the ground level. Always embrace the chance to get out there and be with the people doing the work. It will give you perspectives that you can can’t get anywhere else.
Embrace the mundane: The leader who endures, is the leader who will ultimately be successful. The ultimate test of a leaders endurance is the mundane tasks that no one likes or wants to do. Embrace those tasks by actually doing those tasks. It will demonstrate that you are not above any job.
Think beyond yourself: Don’t confuse your ego with your soul — they are linked but are usually in conflict. Instead, think about how your role amplifies your supporters not how your supporters amplify you. By doing this, you will always make the proper priority calls.
Listen to detractors, challenge supporters: All detractors speak some truth. Listen to them but don’t be consumed by them. Supporters will give you the benefit of the doubt and will also not question you as much. Make sure you challenge them and be the internal detractor. By doing this, you strengthen your ability to understand and rise above the conflicts that will naturally arise.
Stay focused yet broaden your horizon: A leader who is distracted on too many things will dilute their influence and the influence of their group. Focus is the key to maintaining that drive to accomplishment but it can’t be all about the end result. A soulful leader looks beyond the current goals and sees what’s next be it the next conflict, opportunity, movement, project or obstacle.
The central theme behind a soulful leader is that they have an inner calm and strength that transcends the situation they find themselves in. By developing this inner calm and strength, the leaders soul guides them down the right path.
Soulful Leadership is Not Wimpy Leadership
Most of the time, the soul is thought of as the softer side of our personalities. Kinda the “touchy/feely” part of our personalities.
That’s not all true.
Soulful leadership is more about being in tune with yourself so you can be in turn with your supporters. Without this alignment, the effort will soon drift off course. The reason for this is simple — if the leader does not know where to go and is not guided by solid principles, then they will drift aimlessly. Once adrift, the effort will soon lose focus, momentum and quickly disband.
The soulful leader has no such problems since they are driven by an internal calm that guides them even through the most turbulent circumstances. This calm is derived from the knowledge that the leaders actions and intent are purely for the good of the cause and their supporters.
Listen to Your Soul
Some leaders call their soul their gut. Others call it their experience or intuition. Still others call it their consensus. Whatever you call it, it’s the most important tool in your leadership arsenal since it defines you, strengthens you, frustrates you and inspires you to lead.
Without listening to your soul, a leader cannot fully realize their potential nor the potential of their organization or supporters.
It’s the soulful leader that truly understands it’s always about the movement and supporters and never about themselves.