PALM SPRINGS, CALIF.—When author Deepak Chopra talks about leaders that inspire him, he talks about monumental figures, such as Lincoln or Gandhi. What interests him most about these heroes? No less than their very souls. The Soul of Leadership is the title of his 2010 book published by Harmony as well as his Oct. 5 presentation here at the closing general session of the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2012 Strategy Conference.
Chopra first coined the phrase when he taught a leadership course with the same name at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
To reveal your soul and “unlock your potential for greatness,” Chopra said that you must emulate great leaders in telling personal stories fraught with meaning, insight, symbolism and power.
“Great leaders have the power to tell great stories,” he said, explaining that such leaders “authentically tell stories that inspire trust, stability, compassion and hope. Then they go on to say how they are going to accomplish their goals—what are the action steps they’re going to take.”
Ingredients of good stories include plot, obstacles to be overcome and ways to “vanquish demons.”
Stories draw on employees’ collective imagination when leaders ask them: “How can I help you and how can I help you manifest your dreams?
“Great leaders reflect on the most important questions in life,” he said.
“What kind of world do I want to live in? What kind of organization do I want to be part of?
They ask: “Who am I? What do I want for myself and for the world or for my business or organization? Who are my heroes and heroines? What kinds of relationships do I want to cultivate?”
In his research, Chopra found that “Great leaders do not seek answers. They only ask questions. They live the questions. If you live the questions … your soul spirit will move you into the answers.”
Nancy Davis is editor of HR Magazine.
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Quick Links:SHRM Online Business Leadership page