I have chosen to write my business coaching report on the book, Leading with Soul by Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal, for 3 distinct reasons. First, this is how I choose to coach, from my soul and from my heart and it supports so much of what we have learned in this program. Second, leaders with soul bring spirit to their organizations and nourish the environments they are leading. Third, without soul, in any area of life, there is a deep sense of disconnect and emptiness that cannot be filled or replaced with anything. “What does it profit us if we gain the world but lose our soul.”1
In the book, Leading with Soul, Steve Camden, is a high powered corporate executive that has lost sight of his soul and his spirit through an endless need to prove his worth through monetary gains, endless work hours and promotions. He meets a spiritual guide named Maria who helps him see through his cloak of confusion in-order to reconnect with his soul and to find his spirit. As a result, he changes the way he leads his team, while discovering the true meaning of being a powerful leader.
How are soul and spirit different and what is life/business without them? Soul is oneness with self and spirit is oneness with the universe. They are fluid and cannot be separated as they fertilize and support each other. In-order-to capture the spirit of the universe, one must discover one’s soul, which is at the deepest core of their being and the heart of powerful leadership.
When Steve meets Maria every fiber of his being screams for him to run from this crazy woman who does not understand anything about the corporate world. How could she – she lives in a cabin in the mountains, alone. She strikes a chord when she asks, ‘do you like where you are at in life?’, and in that instant, he realizes how miserable and adrift he is. Throughout the next year, Steve visits Maria once a month and learns lessons around commitment, love, power, patience, courage and humor. Through these lessons he sets a new course for his life and on the journey, discovers both his soul and his spirit. “In the end, it’s not our techniques, our talents or our knowledge that matter, it is our being.”2
Effective leadership stems from influence, not control, and it empowers others to turn their collective vision into reality. A wise leader understands that, to give power creates power, and to hoard power dampens the spirit and suffocates the soul. The two pieces of leadership necessary for a fertile business environment and a healthy life. If every leader led their team by shining a spotlight on their strengths, effectively empowering their voice and nourishing their creative ideas, it would create a culture of limitless possibilities and an environment of joy, excitement and passion.
In the end, Maria helps Steve find his soul and challenges him to lead from his heart and in so doing, bring spirit to his company. He learns how individual efforts can accumulate into a shared historical legacy. His journey required him to confront both his beliefs, as well as the universe, and his place in it and this created the space for hope – the missing ingredient in so many facets of life.
To be a powerful leader is to be fully acquainted with your soul in-order-to lead with integrity – always.