Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

How to Lead with Soul

How do you lead? I just read the best suggestion for leadership I’ve seen in a long time in Deepak Chopra’s new book, The Soul of Leadership. He suggests we try to lead with “creativity, intelligence, organizing power and love.” I have never articulated leadership in quite that way, but those six words absolutely nail what I hope to bring to work each day.

Sometimes I pick up one of Chopra’s countless books and all I think is “Duh, Deepak,” but this particular book has me underlining and dog earing pages as I go. He urges would-be leaders to “lead with the soul,” meaning that we must tune in to the quiet wisdom within. “With our minds we may see chaos,” he writes, “but the soul knows there is an underlying order, and seeks to find it.” He stresses that when he says the word soul, he’s not referring to something defined by any specific religion but “an expression of the underlying universal field of consciousness…At the soul level you are seamlessly connected with everything in the universe, to the silent domain from which all matter and energy spring.”

To my mind, leadership goes hand-in-hand with vision. Chopra says, “A successful visionary makes his or her vision manifest in the world. Invisible seeds planted in the silence of your deepest awareness become tangible, visible realities.” I don’t usually talk about it, just to keep clients and colleagues from thinking I’m a complete crackpot, but I’ve used visualization my entire career, ever since I did a thesis on mental imagery back in the early 80s. What Chopra is saying dovetails with my experience of visualizing future outcomes and having them almost magically unfold before me.

Best of all, Chopra promises that by leading in this manner, you promote visionary leadership in others. “As you unfold your own potential for greatness, you unfold the same potential in others. They will naturally turn to you for guidance and leadership in the way forward, and one day they themselves will be able to provide enlightened leadership to others.” And that perhaps is the most important thing any of us can accomplish as leaders — to help create visionary leaders for the future.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

What Do You Get When You Google the Words “Good Boss?”

You might think you know what makes a good boss, and a new study by Google affirms everything you’re probably thinking. Nobody digs through a sea of information better than Google, so it’s not surprising that the company recently analyzed performance reviews, feedback surveys and management award nominations to correlate phrases and words that would give them prescriptives for becoming a better manager.

What did they find? Even the folks at Google seemed to think their findings were fairly obvious. Spend time one on one with your employees. Offer constructive feedback that balances the negative with the positive. Be a good communicator and listen to your team. Roll up your sleeves and help out, when needed.

In short, the sort of things you’d do to support just about any human relationship. Maybe Google’s employee population tends to be a little heavier on introverted engineers than natural people persons, and for their company, it may well have been necessary to quantify those behaviors in order to get managers’ attention. Left brain people tend to trust statistics when they wouldn’t give a gut feeling the time of day.

What’s striking is that they uncovered no big secret to being a good manager. In many, many ways, being a kinder person can help anyone become a better manager.

For more about Google’s study, see Adam Bryant’s article in yesterday’s New York Times: “The Quest to Build a Better Boss.”