When we think about good leadership, we often associate it with getting the job done while staying true to oneself and one’s team. It could also mean showing empathy and compassion for your team. It could imply the art of going beyond yourself and extending yourself for the greater good. It could mean understanding your employees by putting yourself in their shoes and thinking about their perspectives before taking a tough decision. For many leaders, compassion serves as the driving force for their teams to bond, for others, it is a more pragmatic process.
“I didn’t consider my coworkers as colleagues at my workplace. I considered them to be my friends. Hence, all the work I did was with them in my mind, and I was empathetic about their needs. I would get work done quickly if they were dependent on me and I would work to the best of my ability during team projects. I think empathy is the key driving force for teams as it helps you work better selflessly purely for the benefit of others,” said a team leader at a marketing agency in Chennai.
Senior team leadership development can depend on being soul-driven or mind driven, but balance is important. Good leadership also means keeping going beyond your limited needs to make a difference to the world and the people around you. It is keeping your head on your shoulder and objectively resolving problems quickly to progress to new avenues. It is the art of training your mind and disciplining your body to work in tandem with your soul. Such forms of leadership can make your workspace meaningful, aligning with the values of the team.
Why is soulful leadership integral?
Soulful leadership creates a culture in the company where the senior leadership team goes beyond his own individual goals to objectively take decisions that make a difference to society and his organisation. It is the art of finding a larger purpose and then infusing your own goals to align with that greater purpose. Soulful leadership encourages team members to innovate and work with purpose. Empathy and humanity are essential gears in this kind of leadership and infusing a larger meaning and purpose often helps the organization to progress and grow.
At a microcosmic level, it is encouraging your team to put their heart and soul into the tasks they do, and building a culture of trust, meaningful actions and purpose in the company. This kind of leadership creates greater team spirit and loyalty because everyone works with a mindset and desire to contribute to the larger good with everyone growing together.
Building a community
Rakesh*, a team lead at a reputed marketing agency in Bangalore, mentioned that soulful leadership is all about building a community rather than just a team. He learned this the hard way as his rigid beliefs were broken down by his teammates over time.
When he joined the company, he was focused more on growing himself and taking credit for bringing success or change to the company. It later dawned on him that his coworkers strongly opposed this mindset. He was trained to help others and to celebrate success as a team, not as an individual.
Rakesh had brought in lakhs of revenue for his company and expected an incentive or salary hike for his efforts. Instead, his manager took the whole team out for lunch to celebrate the success. They perceived it as a win for the whole company and not just for Rakesh’s goals. It was a matter of trust and unity — not just proving oneself and emerging as the best in the team.
The team found it hard to work with Rakesh as he failed to work with purpose. His goal was to get the task done and bring profits for himself and the company. He wasn’t working with his soul — he wasn’t focused on helping the team learn something new and making his work meaningful.
After months of hard truths and facing reality, Rakesh began to view things from a different lens. He began to be soul-driven instead of just being logic-driven. He turned from an “I” mindset to a “We” mindset. It made him keep the team in mind while making decisions and taught him how to celebrate others’ victories.
This helped him soon emerge as the team leader for the same company and keep the legacy going for future employees to come. Teams that perform better under stressful situations have trust, innovation, and loyalty at their core. This can be established naturally only if every member chooses to work with his or her soul, not mind.
Moving to a soul-driven leadership style
Soul-driven leadership can make a senior leadership team take more meaningful steps when it comes to the organisation. Here are a few ways in which you can take baby steps towards leveraging your mind, body, and soul for the accomplishing your organisational goals.
Change your perspective
When you work with your soul, you are always in “the zone”. This means you use your body and the hormones it has to offer to work with the flow. You are excited and stay motivated by leveraging the adrenaline your body is pumping. You avoid getting scared, anxious, or overwhelmed by letting the cortisol hormone take charge. Most importantly, you keep your oxytocin hormone at a high point to bond better with the team!
Senior team leadership coaching often focuses on shifting your perspective of situations and people to bring a positive change in your leadership style. Your posture and voice exude confidence as your self-esteem and resilience strengthen. Your stamina will increase too as your body and mind are connected – mental fatigue will lead to physical tiredness as well.
On the whole, changing your perspective will help you control your stress and fear and align your soul and mind to strike a balance between taking a rational and soul-driven approach.
Celebrate small team victories
Like Rakesh, we all need to learn to celebrate small victories. Even when they are not our own. It is the joy of celebrating as a team and not just as an individual. Practically, it is also a great way of making your team feel inclusive and building a great rapport with the members.
“I feel it is a two-way road. If you are a person who won something, you should think with your soul and consider it a team victory. If you are a part of the team, you should also work with your soul and be happy for the individual who brought victory to the team. This way, the individual, as well as the team, exhibit soul-driven mindsets,” said a chartered accountant from a banking firm in Hyderabad.
Work towards the senior leadership team’s future vision
Our spirit is reflected in how much we motivate ourselves and others during times of need. How far can we inspire others and think beyond the immediate goals? It is the art of swapping your myopic goals for ones that are long-term. This is where soul-driven mindsets have to align with rational thinking to come up with innovative ideas.
Communicate your goals to the team and engage in meaningful conversation. Allow new ideas of different perspectives to emerge through meaningful thoughts, genuine enthusiasm, and engagement. Keep the roadmap of your leadership development while focusing on team goals to stay on your toes. It is always a good idea to blend self-awareness with pragmatism to review how you are contributing to those goals.
Be intentional in everything you do
Soul-driven leaders work with concrete intentions in place. They don’t just work to get things done or to consciously help people. They work selflessly and without dwelling too much to overthink things. It is the art of letting go while still staying in charge of the situation. In the words of Sripriyaa Venkataraman, a Leadership and Executive Coach at Global Coaching Lab,
“Between your soul and your actions and your mind and your actions, there is a lot of connection. When you do some actions with your soul, you do it without thinking and you are all for ensuring that a few people benefit from that message. But when your mind comes into the picture, you start looking for justifications and options. You start thinking too much before getting into doing something good.”
She goes on to say that there is an intuitive space between you and your soul. It can help you practice some forms of empathy such as compassion. Soul-driven leaders need to start thinking about how they can tap into this intuitive space to build high-performing teams. Working with one’s soul can help leaders turn selfless and work without thinking too much about the outcomes of their actions.
Keep the next generation in mind
As a leader, it is important to remember that you are always setting a precedent. Your balanced approach of investing compassion and empathy along with sound timely judgements can set a strong example.
While managing the team, it is also essential to engage well with the younger generation to keep the workspace thriving. If you wish to begin leveraging your soul to drive your leadership style, you have already taken the first step! Yes, choosing to take this path out of all the options you have is in itself a stepping stone.
Click here to know more about senior team leadership coaching and to begin leveraging the power of your mind, body, and soul working in harmony.