In the past, leadership was about expertise and execution. An unacknowledged but frequently present third ‘E’ was ego. Today, empathy has become the third leg of the effective leadership platform. Why? Because the qualities we seek in a modern workforce, resilience, autonomy, and creativity cannot be mandated by a boss.
An enlightened leader (another ‘E’ word) is someone who can blend expertise, execution (results focus) and empathy in an impactful way. They are comfortable harnessing the wisdom of both head and heart.
Their ability to inspire is grounded in recognising the dignity of the individual irrespective of title. If old forms of leadership were about getting and wielding power, for enlightened leaders it’s about empowerment, achieving with other people and rather than bruising the self-esteem of others, they seek to enhance it.
The qualities of enlightened leadership
Integrity & Authenticity
Every organisation has a value statement that includes the word integrity. The most common definition is being honest and having strong moral principles. The second definition of integrity is the state of being whole and undivided. In other words, we are aligned within ourselves. An enlightened leader has done the personal development work to reach a point where they are comfortable in their own skin. They don’t have to be educated on authentic leadership because it is simply who they are.
With curiosity and creativity, the enlightened leader uses the reasoning mind, as well as their intuition to see, hear and acknowledge all perspectives. It’s that sense of connection with intuition, harnessing the wisdom of the heart and gut, not just the head, that separates them from rational corporate man.
They are adept at finding a third way, it’s not either or, but perhaps both, or new, or different. They view challenges through a more loving and inclusive lens because they’ve learned to see with unblinkered eyes.
Enlightened leaders are connected with their own sources of inspiration and of course, are inspiring to others. The word ‘inspire’ comes from the Latin root ‘to breathe’, and ‘spirit,’ so when you inspire others, you bring them into the spirit of your vision.
When you think of leaders you admire, perhaps people you’ve worked with, it’s not just that they’ve been a wonderful mentor or a source of inspiration, you probably formed lasting bonds to the point where they hold a special place in your heart.
Dignity of the individual
As a bi-product of integrity and authenticity, an enlightened leader is cognisant of the dignity of the individual. They give porters the same respect as presidents. They don’t have to be educated on diversity. When we think of leaders we admire, the Obamas, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, it’s their humanity and their respect for people that resonates with us. We view them as our potential in action.
Purpose of Work
Traditionally, companies exist to make a profit. Whilst enlightened leaders are comfortable in the world of business and finance, for them work is more than shareholder value and providing for material needs. The work environment is a space to build community and a sense of belonging. Work itself is a vehicle for self-discovery and lifelong learning. Whilst not everyone can turn their passion into their profession, an enlightened leader views this as a noble pursuit.
Enlightened leaders embody another ‘E’ word, enthusiasm, and the root of the word enthusiasm in Greek ‘en theos’ meaning ‘in God.’ With a spiritual dimension in their lives, enlightened leaders draw on the universal field of consciousness, the unlimited wisdom of the soul. They are leaders without needing to seek followers, but followers will gravitate to them anyway because their light is shining bright.
If you are interested in this topic then I would encourage you to listen to episode 113 of my podcast where I cover this in more detail and ask the question are you a corporate mystic?
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