Leading With Soul

Advice / Leadership


Leading With Soul
Al Loma , CxO / Board, United States

Once the sweat, control, tricks, and gimmicks fail to work in one’s leadership style where do you turn? Eventually, leadership if it is to continue in its maturity must look internally.


My current leadership journey has found its course in the book “Leading with Soul.” At first, I thought, what does this book have to do with leadership? More like a fictional novel than any type of academic exercise, I was skeptical of its usefulness. Is leading with soul important to a leader. Bolman and Terrance Deal, (2001), wrote that terms like heart and spirit seem exotic (p. 9). I understand what they are saying but to me the terms heart and spirit are why I exist. Leading with soul has deep spiritual meaning to me.

Soul and spirit are so interconnected that the two words are often interchangeable (p. 9). Ancient writers confirm the distinction of soul and spirit when the Hebrew writer penned, for the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Heb 4:12-13, NIV). The Hebrew writer understood the distinction between soul and spirit. As do I.
When the Gimmicks stop working

Once the sweat, control, tricks, and gimmicks fail to work in one’s leadership style where do you turn? Eventually, leadership if it is to continue in its maturity must look internally. Bolman et al. wrote that the heart of leadership is in the hearts of leaders. You have to lead from something deep in your heart (p. 23). The difficulty is each of us must traverse the path of the inner man alone. Bolman illustrates that for anyone to describe the leader you believe resides in your heart would be equal to me offering you some fruit after I first chewed it.

I now ask myself if the 5 stages of decline described by Jim Collins (2009), “How the Mighty have Fallen” are an end result of a leader or leaders who fail to journey inward. The 5 stages are as follows (p. 20):

* Hubris-Born to Success
* Undisciplined Pursuit of More
* Denial of risk and Peril
* Grasping for Salvation
* Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death

One can easily see how a leader with internal blindness could fall victim to hubris. Hubris defined is the excessive pride and ambition that usually leads to the downfall of a hero in classical tragedy. Hubristic people engage in very proud talk that offends people.

In many growing organizations, some believe success is virtually an entitlement. Collins wrote that they lose sight of the true underlying factors that created success in the first place (p. 21). Fundamentally, they assume success is based on how they do things rather than accepting that someone laid the groundwork for success because of penetrating understanding and insight.

Another item Collins addresses is luck. Luck and chance play a role in many successful outcomes, and those who fail to acknowledge the role luck may have played in their success-and thereby overestimate their own merit and capabilities-have succumbed to hubris (p. 21). In another vernacular, one could say to this proud person, “you ain’t all that or a bag of chips”

My journey continues…

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