Spiritual Leadership: The Servant Leader by Jim Grant

 

I’m willing to bet some people in leadership positions who begin to read this post even this far will roll their eyes, mutter ‘ya right,’ ‘bullshit’ and surf on to something else. “How do I know,” sadly I still meet them daily? They continue to poison organizations and people who work in them. I also know because I’ve worked for some myself. I’m willing to bet if your reading this you have too. So for those who continue to read on, I’d like to offer a few thoughts and insights around what I mean and know as Spiritual Leadership from my career as an executive and in today’s world of coaching executives.

One CEO bellowed, ‘bullshit’ when we began talking about this kind of leadership. He was surprised to learn that Lao-Tzu, founder of Taoism in the 6th century B.C., was a champion a selfless and non-directive leadership around selfless service. He sucked in his breath when I explained how the ancient Tao Te Ching held three universal values. The first was “Precious Attributes” (guide a Taoist life), then “Love” (showing compassion, kindness), next, “Moderation” (simplicity, restraint, frugality) and finally, “Humility” (not competing or putting oneself ahead of others”).

In ‘salt’ and ‘pepper’ fashion, I seasoned our chat and ending up with asking if he’d heard of Abraham Maslow and his needs hierarchy? He admitted he had, but once again thought is was ‘psycho-babbly-gook-speak’ for ‘weak-kneed’ people who wouldn’t or couldn’t commit to a days work. We talked about how Maslow was offering insights into ‘other’ world-views. I shared how Maslow described humans having an inherent capacity and need to grow once their basic needs are met. Asking him further about his climb to a CEO, he admitted the personal cost was high, outlining he could see some of what we were talking about making sense. When challenged again, he agreed to own some of those self-same needs missing on his journey.

As I probed deeper about his management team, he confided how very few measure up and how he’s not confident in others to deliver when he’s away from the office. I asked if he had one that was capable and he agreed, one showed promise and was getting to be just like him. What would happen if you had six executives working together for you”? “Is having one like you more important than having the other five capable of doing amazing work for you without being like you”? A thoughtful frown blanketed his face as I continued to explain, “Maslow said, when people who lower level needs are met move into the psychological growth realms, they feel free to meet not only their growth needs, but also the needs of others.”

My biggest surprise came when his guarded gruff exterior dropped; a sincere but tentative question asked: “Jim, I’m at my wit’s end, it’s why I called you. Do you think this is possible in my company, God knows we need it”! “When do we start, the sooner, the better…”.

 

Jim Grant is an Executive Leadership Coach living in Helsinki Finland. If you’re interested in new ways of leading and developing yourself and your company, give him a call at +358 040 178 1030 or e-mail him at jim.grant@diversitas.fi

Spiritual Leadership: Above The Line? Below The Line? / by Jim Grant

 

This post isn’t about God. It’s about how the fiasco’s of post-modern business come to be true. It’s chasing a hazy idea based on market dominance, a bottom line, an extra 10% of something. An increasing number of executives eventually come to a place where their current reality doesn’t make sense. Corporate take-overs and chasing a dollar end up being your prison or being thrown into one. It’s a shock-point of waking to a reality of people and an organization following you down the rabbit hole.

Unrealistic visions, goals or greed seduce people into corporate suicide. They can quickly destroy an organization, colleagues or in some cases end up disemboweling the environment. Spiritual leadership asks that you stop, question and check in with your ‘Inner Wisdom’ before committing to personal or organizational visions, objectives, and goals. Spiritual Leadership is not about religion or touchy-feely ‘woo-woo’ stuff. It’s deciding and choosing above the line thinking and behavior.

How does “My dream …” become a ‘leg-trap’ of, “it’s not enough,” “I’ll work harder,” “longer hours,” “early retirement,” ”when I have enough money”? These are all dead-end pathways to failing health, stress burn-out, and addictions of every kind. In the quest for personal or organizational gain, an illusory more than we care to admit feels like chasing butterflies with eyes closed only to realize we’re stepping off the corporate cliff grabbing hand full’s of fresh air.

Beginning with an illusion created by a lack of clarity about what’s important, personal values and unquestioned living become how we see our work and various life roles. Is reality only about establishing a goal, putting it on a flip-chart, showing it to others and getting to work? When reality collides with expectations, we forget to adjust the target and try to warp reality. Is aiming for a million Euros profit when our market yields nine hundred thousand what matters? So we get creative about cutting costs, people and processes to realize an elusive ten percent.

It’s not being able to step back and questioning if the ten percent is a walk through our mind (mine)-field of expectations. Galvanized to a magic number of an extra hundred thousand Euros, perverted thinking and believing something that creates a mine (mind)-set of the nine hundred thousand of the one million as true. Now ‘fudging the figures,’ ‘cooking the books,’ ‘outright lies,’ and a ‘pornography of illegal transactions’ become the slippery slope of “new values and belief systems.”

What do you need in your life to restore balance? What would you like to have happened?

 

Jim Grant is a Leadership and Executive Coach living in Helsinki, Finland. Are you looking to make an authentic difference? Call +358 040 1781030 or e-mail him at jim.grant@diversitas.oy

Listening in Knowing / by Jim Grant

 

Words lack sufficient clarity about a person’s life experiences. A face-to-face talk is a beginning. Yet how often in our understanding do we stumble over our unwillingness to accept the elephant in the room? When we do, earnest communication follows.

The space you and another person share is alive when rooted in mutual trust. Ask almost any senior leader of people, “How do you know what is the right thing to say or do?” My experience is that if you’re sincere, they’ll often tell you.

When I’ve posed the same question time and again to senior executives, most reply in a matter-of-fact way along the following theme:

“It’s a gut feeling. Often it helps by taking a step or two back (zoom out) and taking in the whole person or situation to truly appreciate what’s actually there … then zooming in again for a closer more detailed perspective”.

One Deputy Minster coaching client (wheel-chair bound) offered when I asked that question, “When I look down at my legs, I see I can’t physically take a step back, I literally bump up against my inner knowing when I admit to myself, yes I can…”

He continued… “As I do, I invite more of both of us into the human space. It can be as simple as realizing we see each other and listen as a real person. I can lean on them and catch my breath. I don’t need to say anything about how I got here and ended up this way. I know in that moment that someone is there to support me, they’re listening and they have my back … and for me, it matters most”.

Jim Grant is an executive and leadership coach living and working in Helsinki. Curious about exploring ‘the human space’ call him +358 040 178 1030 or send an e-mail to jim.grant@diversitas.fi