Bhalla (The Curse and the Cup, 2014, etc.), delivers a multilayered guide to “soulful leadership.”
The author, a self-described “globally recognized thinker-doer” who works as a consultant, speaker, and leadership coach, believes that people are living in a “VUCA” world: “Volatile,” “Uncertain,” “Complex,” and “Ambiguous.” The only way to navigate this new world is through soulful leadership, he says, which he defines as “a conscious desire to use power and resources to increase the well-being and prosperity of the greater many, not just the privileged few.” A soulful leader is the opposite of an egotistical leader, he notes, as the latter is identifiable by a tendency to disrupt and distract, an insistent need for rewards and recognition, poor listening skills, impatience, and an intolerance of dissent. In contrast, soulful leaders have substance, are authentic, and have a clear vision. “Soulful leaders are neither timid nor squeamish,” Bhalla says. They don’t exist in a bubble, however; they must extend their “orbit” to employees, customers, and to the planet. Bhalla illustrates the parameters of soulful leadership through fictional scenarios and real-life situations faced by leaders like Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela. Each essay also includes “Think About It,” “Talk About It,” and “Act on It” suggestions to put esoteric ideas into practice. Although Bhalla’s prose is precise, it can be textbook-dry; when discussing psychotherapist Alfred Adler’s theory on success, for example, he writes, “For him, success is a purely competitive concept, a fixation that robs moment-to-moment living of all joy, since living is deferred to some uncertain time in the future after the individual feels fulfilled by success.” The author’s approach to the theories’ applications, however, is more playful. For instance, the author intersperses poems among the essays, he says, because poetry taps into the soul “in a way that can’t be accomplished by merely appealing to the mind.” Regarding the Emily Dickinson poem “I’m Nobody! Who Are You?” he writes about establishing an “ ‘I am a nobody’ culture in your own organization and workplace.” Forward-thinking organizations will find these concepts to be timely and useful.
An inspirational perspective on an unusual leadership style.