The spirituality of leadership

Countless authors, entrepreneurs, and gurus have explored the subject of leadership. Their essays contain a wide range of perspectives, insights, and advice. The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership tackles the concept at length from the perspective of responsibility, empathy, and spirituality.

If you’ve read even a little non-fiction on the topic of leadership, a lot of the content in this book will be familiar. Yes, you need a growth mindset. Yes, you need to empathize with and listen to colleagues. Yes, you need to take responsibility. All of this is old hat and has been treaded and retreaded ad nauseam. With that caveat, The 15 Commitments does have some fresh ideas as well.

One of these is the authors’ concept of “commitment” itself. They argue that while commitments are generally a future-centric idea, they actually have meaning in how they impact the present. What you commit to in the future directs your actions right now. It’s an interesting mindset. What then are the commitments of conscious leaders?

Most of the commitments are focused around taking responsibility and having empathy. Focus on adapting and taking things in stride, as opposed to being reactionary and defensive. Don’t indulge your need to be right constantly. This tends to create a hostile work environment and strain relationships. Don’t look for someone to blame when things go wrong, but rather genuinely listen.

Again, it’s not groundbreaking but the commitments fit together nicely and make for a complete package. There are some hidden gems too. One whole chapter is dedicated to avoiding gossip. Most people have a negative view of gossip, but it is not something that is frequently discussed, especially at such length, in the context of leadership.

Clearly, the book has some real strengths. But it does have it’s weaknesses as well. Most critically, the commitments can be misunderstood and abused. While it is good to be more empathetic and personal, professional boundaries exist for a reason. It is quite conceivable that someone could take all the principles in the book, and instead of becoming conscious and charismatic, they become lax and emotionally intemperate.

The book is also suffused with New Age spirituality which, despite the authors’ best efforts, can be a major turn-off for some readers. It isn’t superfluous either, but essential to the books arguments and vision. You can still glean various insights from the book without buying its blend of Eastern spirituality, Stoicism, and social science, but the overall presentation may be off-putting.

The 15 Commitments of Leadership is available for purchase here.

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