There are many courses on leadership, just as there are countless theories on effective leadership. I recently encountered one that resonated with me, and I wanted to share it with you. The book I read is entitled, Building The Bridge As You Walk On It: A Guide For Leading Change by Robert E. Quinn.
The leadership style that Quinn writes about is not one in which you can emulate or teach as much as you inspire and model. It is not based on telling or forcing someone to do something, nor is it about managing or directing. It is instead about being who you are and coming from a place of personal integrity where you make decisions based on the highest good of the organization rather than your own personal good. It requires the greatest honesty and authenticity and a surrendering of ego. It requires a trust in one's own higher Self to guide and direct.
Leo Tolstoy once wrote, "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." In this form of leadership, the leader must agree to be changed at depth. It requires an authenticity and honesty--being able to admit when one doesn't know the answers, which goes against some leadership philosophies which say that one should move ahead confidently and never admit to not knowing what to do. In other words, "fake it til you make it."
In this form of leadership, one must get to know oneself. Quinn talks about the hypocrisy that we all share. We all talk about being a certain way and acting from the highest place within us, but we don't always do that. It is easier to take the easy road and stay in our comfort zone. To really live from that highest place within us at all times takes an enormous amount of courage and energy. It is something that we aspire to, but not something that comes naturally to us. The key is to come from that highest place more and more often, making it our intention to do so and monitoring ourselves on a daily basis.
In his book, Quinn does not mention spirituality, but I found the book to be very spiritual, and very New Thought. He writes on page 36 about "Becoming What You Behold and Beholding What You Become" and quotes poet and artist William Blake: "They became what they beheld." In other words, as Quinn goes on to say, "When we accept the world as it is" (or as we would see it when not seeing through the eyes of our higher Self), "we deny our innate ability to see something better, and hence our ability to be something better. We become what we behold...." The chains that bind us are 'mind-forg'd manacles," according to Blake. In New Thought, we would say that we get what we focus on or that our thoughts create our reality.
Quinn's first book on this topic was entitled, Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within. That is the next book on my reading list. What I appreciated about Building The Bridge As You Walk On It was that it had case studies and personal stories of how other individuals and organizations came to enter into this transformational state of leadership.
I highly recommend Quinn's book, even if you do not see yourself in a leadership role. It may inspire you to make the deep changes that will then place you into a leadership role. In this day and age, this world needs more people who are transformational leaders--who will lead from a place of integrity and authenticity.