Google the term, and there’s a lot written. So far as I can see (not exclusively — I stopped after the first few pages), it’s focused on bringing a Judeo-Christian approach to the leadership paradigm.
And that’s fine. No really, but it’s not my focus, nor the theme of this post.
Let’s back up a bit:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.” ― Gandhi
What exactly do you believe when it comes to leadership?
(You might want to reflect on that question before you read the next passage…)
I’ll tell you what I believe.
Foundationally — i.e. all body, mind, spirit — we, in work or otherwise, are all connected.
Even allowing for the faux job titles, the parking spaces and the work attire (let’s leave the BS out of it for now), there’s nothing to choose between any of us.
I realise that that’s way out there, particularly or more especially when, in the United Kingdom at least, we’re still riven by class division — i.e. the have and have nots; but from that place, which for the purposes of this first post on the subject I’ve called Spiritual Leadership, leadership should be viewed through a new prism.
Now, I’m quite sure you’ve read your fair share of leadership books or watched a few videos and will have a view on good/bad leadership but it’s fundamentally flawed.
It has to be.
Think about my point, again.
We’re all connected.
Even saying it makes me question the need for leaders. I know what we’re told and sometimes it’s good to follow someone wiser and more experienced, but are we so supine in work, life and emotional resilience to need a prop or totem?
I don’t think so.
If we really thought about it, we’d quickly realise that leadership is a false dawn. In most cases, leadership is offered up as a way to maintain the status quo. It’s based on a hierarchical definition that expects others to follow. That suggests (not always) that someone is better than you.
I don’t think so.
You’re already perfect…even though in work you’re not made to feel that way.
Even if you don’t by my connection point, which then negates in a simplistic and not well-articulated fashion the need for a leader-follower relationship, how many leaders operate from a place of love?
“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image.” ― Thomas Merton, The Way of Chuang Tzu
Of course, they don’t.
Instead, they’ve a well-worn script, mostly based on a set of anodyne rules that militates against them showing up as true self, let alone allowing you to be fully human.
Let me put it another way. Leaders, or at least some of them, will say that they’re enacting the company’s vision:
We think and act like owners of our business, make tough choices and treat every dollar as if it is our own. We keep it simple, focus on the work that matters, and have a culture of meritocracy that recognizes and rewards exceptional performance at every level.” – KraftHeinz
“Our culture and values
Our core values are patient focus, integrity, respect for people and transparency. We expect our employees to share our values, to act transparently and with integrity at all times.” — GSK
“We pull together
We value our colleagues as people and treat each other fairly, with kindness and respect.
We collaborate across Wellcome and beyond to achieve our aims, generously sharing our time, information and expertise.
We take action to include a diverse mix of people and draw on one another’s perspectives, backgrounds and experience.” – Wellcome Trust
Perhaps I’m being too selective, but how does any of this qua an ethereal entity, namely a company (variously described as “We” in the above examples), give any direction or insight as to how one human being should operate with another?
And never will do.
That’s not to say that you don’t get the eponymous company man/woman/person but in my book, they deserve pity not respect for the fact that they no longer know who they are and instead default to a script that’s usually a product of consummate brainwashing:
“Number Six: I will not make any deals with you. I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered! My life is my own!” — The Prisoner
In sharing these few words, you might ask what I’m trying to achieve.
Yes, great gobs of it; but I know that’s not going to happen not now, not ever.
To start a conversation?
Yes please — and one that I’d love others to lead. But then again, who in an organisational setting is brave enough to stand up and say we need fundamental change? No one that I’ve ever worked with.
To make you think?
Oh, god, I hope so.
To operate from a different place in or out of work?
Yes. I’d love us all to be less judgmental, not to live through our dualistic minds and to find connection with our real work so that we’re not wedded to leadership as some secret elixir of success. But then again, I know Resistance will always beat you.
In the end, I suppose all I can do, is all I can do and if that means writing and sharing these few words then so be it. Like I’ve always said about my writing, I’ve no grand vision for what I’m trying to achieve save perhaps to invite a more beautiful question into your heart:
“As soon as you look at the world through an ideology you are finished. No reality fits an ideology. Life is beyond that. … That is why people are always searching for a meaning to life… Meaning is only found when you go beyond meaning. Life only makes sense when you perceive it as mystery, and it makes no sense to the conceptualizing mind.” ― Anthony de Mello
If of course you’d like to share your thoughts on this subject, please feel free to leave a comment below. Alternatively, I’d be very happy to continue the conversation via Zoom or a podcast.
If you’d like to know more about my work and how I can help, please feel free to check out the archive and my services page. At the moment, I’m able to take on a few more coaching clients, and if you’re interested all you need do is email me or telephone using the details on my contact page.
Photo by Drew Murphy on Unsplash