Neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor in her new book Whole Brain Living says that most of humanity who live urban lives are stuck in the left brain. This results in linear, mechanistic thinking in the past and future tense, structured, certain, analytical, detail oriented, seeks differences, happy to separate, critical and judgmental, fear based and righteous.i
This is a result of people being conditioned from a young age to think the world is a scary place, with scarce resources. This gives rise to the competitive mindset, to fight for space, to be cunning and even deceitful to win at any cost.
Psychologist and Conflict Mediator, Marshsall Rosenberg observed:
“Most of us have been educated from birth to compete, judge, demand, diagnose, – to think and communicate in terms of what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ with people. At best this way of thinking and speaking hinders communication, creating misunderstanding and frustration, at its worst – it leads to violence”.ii
Being spiritually grounded can be an antidote to all this. Spiritual grounding can arise from a mindfulness meditation practice to become self-reflective and self-aware. This is a way to become more grounded to be a Purposeful Leader.
What is Purposeful Leadership?
It is a moral choice that principled leaders make to achieve something greater than themselves and the companies they lead. That is how Purposeful Leadership finds common ground with spirituality.
Spirituality is a broad concept. We could identify a spiritually intelligent person as one who has a sense of connection to something bigger than themselves, yet loves self, cares about all sentient beings, the planet, and strives to be a kind person.
Dr. Ronald Heifetz, founding director of the Center of Public Leadership at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government said to a group of business leaders at a Harvard Business School session to discuss how their spirituality helps them be powerful leaders – “There are so many pressures on you as a leader to lose your compassion and develop a thick skin, to lose your capacity for doubt and curiosity.”iii They all agreed with him.
Luis Fry of Tarleton State University, Texas focusses on spirituality as an antidote to “the current malaise in corporate ethics and social responsibility.”
The behaviour of being rational, logical and specialized is reinforced through education and social conditioning. Institutions designed in the old industrial age hierarchy operate in silos and the notion of interdependence is alien.
The term spirituality in such a formal structure evokes resistance because it is too vague, religious and mysterious.
In his 2004 paper, Toward a theory of ethical and spiritual well-being, and corporate social responsibility through spiritual leadership, Louis W. Fry states;iv
Spiritual well-being is a result of satisfying the spiritual survival needs for: (1) transcendence or calling manifested in the desire to strive for those purposes and values that express whatever a person feels is ultimately meaningful to him or her and (2) membership which is the desire for people, especially at work, to feel understood, and appreciated resulting in a sense of belonging and partnership.
A Purposeful Leader brings people together through a foundation of values that guides them in the way they behave with self, others and the world around them.
A spiritual grounding provides a foundation for a Purposeful Leader. It facilitates a dialogue between reason and emotion through the mind-body connection that happens through the mindfulness practice. Spirituality helps grow and transform from the ego-centered material self to an active, unifying, meaning-giving centre.
A Purposeful Leader is mindfully aware of words and actions that can afflict self and others. That spiritual intelligence can transform organizations to be more responsible.
As corporations impact the sustainability of this planet, there is a need for Purposeful Leaders with spiritual intelligence to balance with IQ and emotional intelligence. An enlightened leadership may drive corporations to be more responsible and to minimize harm to this earth and its beings.
That is Purposeful Leadership in action.