Leading With Heart

Soul-Centered LeadershipR. Michael Anderson’s book, Soul-Centered Leadership, offers a unique take on leadership congruent with organizational self-management. His chapter on Self-Leadership talks about the illusion of control—the futility of trying to control others. It’s very possible to control oneself. Trying to control others, especially at work, represents wasted energy. Influence through action, not control, is a core leadership principle. A corollary is the concept of taking ownership by focusing on things that are actually within one’s control in order to develop leadership muscles.

Positive language is a core cultural artifact of effective organizational self-management and soul-centered leadership. Anderson reinforces this idea by illustrating the power of language to differentiate victim and owner mindsets. Collaborative language is positive, affirming, responsible (i.e. “I’ll find out; I’ll figure it out”). Victimhood language is defensive, blaming, negative (i.e., “I can’t; I don’t know how”). One might also reasonably expect a collaborative self-managed team environment to prefer pronouns like we, us, and ours to I, me and mine.

The author really hits the mark in his discussion of commitments. He says “a commitment means you are 100% in. That means if you are 99% or less, and you aren’t absolutely sure you will do something, don’t commit to it.” Commitment-keeping represents exactly one-half of the foundation of organizational self-management. According to language expert Fernando Flores, commitments are affirmative speech acts, with structure, specific language and a lifecycle. The author’s take on commitment is both perfectly challenging and perfectly accurate. His observation that “disappointment is often a result of vague, or the absence of, agreed-upon agreements” describes what could be the majority of ill-formed “commitments” made every day in corporate America.

Anderson shares a number of useful observations about mindfulness, courage, vulnerability, self-limiting beliefs and other dimensions that speak to personal effectiveness—the essence of soul-centered leadership.

An interesting book on a timely topic.

Soul-Centered Leadership, R. Michael Anderson, MA, MBA, Executive Joy! Press, 2017