How To Lead From The Inside Out With Heart and Soul – Centered Leadership


Sisyphus rolling the boulder back up the hill.

It is Sunday 4:30 a.m. This the most creative period of the day for me. I am often awake at this hour. So, here are my thoughts on leadership. Yes, I am disturbed with all the books and talks on leadership while few actually do it.

During my master’s studies I recall lengthy conversations on leadership. There were as one can imagine myriad concepts. It occurred to me that perhaps that is the problem. Leadership is deemed subjective. A static response to a stimuli or situation. Situational leadership if you will. 

However, I have worked with some of the world’s leading firms who to my dismay even those who literally wrote the books on leadership, appear to falter. I have never known a leader to lead authentically. Is it impossible? No! Doing so requires integrity if the heart. My view is that leadership is wholly objective. Whether in placid or complex times authentic leaders raise the bar by behaving ethically. Is it possible to achieve shareholder results by doing so? Yes. You build a trust environment. Then why don’t more leaders actually walk the talk?

Pride. They are in conflict with whom they are and what they want to do. The “what  they want to do” is temporary. The “be” is lasting. It is where the real change or personal and organizational culture develops. What employees see and mimic.

The “be” meaning it is better to be than to do for real change occurs from the inside out, is what builds real organizations made of people fit for people. At some point the coveted corner office will proceed to another. As difficult as it is to believe our task at XYZ Company will be forgotten. What will echo is the excellence we contributed without losing our integrity. Indeed. it will be our integrity that created our excellence. And … in the end .. those at home who we really work for will know they always mattered. 

Below are ideas from Kevin Kruse:  

1. Authentic leaders are self-aware and genuine. Authentic leaders are self-actualized individuals who are aware of their strengths, their limitations, and their emotions. They also show their real selves to their followers. They do not act one way in private and another in public; they don’t hide their mistakes or weaknesses out of fear of looking weak. They also realize that being self-actualized is an endless journey, never complete.

2. Authentic leaders are mission driven and focused on results. They are able to put the mission and the goals of the organization ahead of their own self-interest. They do the job in pursuit of results, not for their own power, money or ego.

3. Authentic leaders lead with their heart, not just their minds. They are not afraid to show their emotions, their vulnerability and to connect with their employees. This does not mean authentic leaders are “soft.” In fact communicating in a direct manner is critical to successful outcomes, but it’s done with empathy; directness without empathy is cruel.

4. Authentic leaders focus on the long-term. A key tenet in Bill George’s model is the company leaders are focused on long-term shareholder value, not in just beating quarterly estimates. Just as George did as CEO of Medtronic MDT +0.21%, and as Bezos has done for years at Amazon, leaders realize that to nurture individuals and to nurture a company requires hard work and patience, but the approach pays large dividends over time.[…]


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Jim Woods is president of The Jim Woods Group. A management consulting firm. Go here to see his work He advises and speaks to organizations large and small on how to increase top line growth in times of uncertainty and complexity. Some of his speaking and consulting clients include: U.S. Army, MITRE Corporation, Pitney Bowes, Whirlpool, and 3M. See more at his website

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