Leadership is one of the most discussed subjects today. Research carried out by top B Schools and validated by business leaders has led to a new way that is different from that of traditional leaders who believed in ‘knowing what to tell others to do’. Well-timed is also neurological research, revealing that great potential exists untapped in a wide spectrum of human dimensions such as cognitive, emotional, intuitive, creative, and spiritual. During the early 20 century, Abraham Maslow presented his ‘humanistic psychology’, that stated that all humankind is ultimately aimed at Self-actualisation.
At that time, Stanislov Grof from Czechoslovakia influenced this work to evolve what is known as transpersonal vision, causing a major shift in our thinking about leadership as merely an immense ability to solve problems, acquire knowledge or cope with technology. Leadership is a systematic development of ‘temperament’ and ‘a way of being’ that the person creates. This opened up new possibilities: an integrated mode of thinking and delivery, the compelling need to cultivate personal and professional abilities to care about a new expanding constituency – that is, that of ‘others’.
Building on these, UK entrepreneur John Knights founded LeaderShape to train such leaders. He calls it Transpersonal Leadership, that can be cultivated and institutionalised. This idea emerges from eastern and western wisdom in a synchronous way on a belief platform that it is all about leading beyond the ego. A transpersonal leader knows to genuinely care about himself, and so is able to go beyond supporting and providing clarity on possible risks, opportunities and innovations for the ‘other’.
Interestingly, in order to co-create lasting value, the transpersonal leader helps create a high-trust environment where people first co-exist without much suspicion. This also minimises avoidable competitiveness. All these ‘virtues’ can be identified and supported in an individual.
Furthermore, this belief system lives the saying: ‘None of us is as smart as all of us,’ So, everything happens on consensus and unanimity. It is a given that everyone is responsible for what one perceives and the feelings one experiences. Achievement is also shared-value by the team, and the individual’s contribution is not the same as what one gets in a traditional award-function! Edmund Hillary said: ‘It is not the mountain I conquered, but myself’.
‘Leading beyond the ego’ is ultimately an exercise in self-mastery. The underlying faith is in the dictum: ‘Change begins with me’. It is not about being a saviour, because one is just a source of inspiration for those whose dignity and self-interest are really cared for. Nor is one a servant because people need empowerment and self-worth rather than being ‘served’. Just coach them into empowerment!
So, we neither work ‘at’ people or ‘for’ them. We convince ourselves and our co-workers to work with others. Many centuries ago Lao Tsu culled out a relevant verse from the Tao Te Ching, Book of Tao which has been stated in slightly different words by many. It says: ‘The wicked leader is the one who they despise. The good leader is the one they revere. A great leader is one who, when the work is done, people say they did it’!
Transpersonal leadership is a scientific process of several stages, competencies and techniques centered on philosophies to see how enlightened leaders can be supported and evolved — with the argument that emotional and other facets of leaders can help them lead people by their strengths rather than weaknesses.