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Leadership, Tribal Spiritual Wisdom, And the Leadership Talk

Layne McDonald. Ph.D.

A leader. . .is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind. - Nelson Mandela


You can boost your leadership skills and career by understanding this one thing most leaders miss: significant leadership incorporates a spiritual dimension. 

When we talk about the spiritual in leadership, we must, primarily, talk about results -- the results leaders achieve - concrete results. Hard, measured effects. Plus, we must talk about getting more of them, getting them faster, and getting "more, faster" continually. Otherwise, there is no sense in delving into the spiritual aspect of leadership. 

Results are the stuff that leaders are made of. They will not be leaders for long if they are not getting results. Results come in countless forms and functions. But one thing they all share: they are material consequences of actions.

You cannot see spirit; you cannot hear it, you cannot smell it, you cannot taste it, you cannot feel it; however, if you ignore the non-material that the spiritual encompasses, you will give short shrift to your leadership. 

Just as the root word for spirit comes from Latin "to breathe, " spiritual dimensions of leadership are its very life-breath; through it, the most outstanding results for you have been applied to different things in different fields: stealth bombers, corporations, rock bands, comic book characters, etc. In religion, the spirit is the concept of an innate essence of the heart. All religions embrace the heart in ways. But when applied to leadership, nature manifests differently than organized religions. I am administration out the spiritual aspect of administration must be exerted universally in the global marketplace, across cultures, nations, ethnic groups, etc. No religion has a corner on the spirit of leadership. 

Fortunately, there is a universal ground for the kind of spirit needed in today's leadership: the spiritual wisdom of tribal standards. Anthropologists have found standard features in the diversity of tribal cultures worldwide. First, they are earth-based. The relationship between the earth and the people is one of mystical interdependence. Second, the powers of nature, the acts of daily life, birth-death, nature, and the cosmos are all invested with deep meaning through ritual and dance. Third, most tribal cultures view all individual things that make up our universe -- rocks, stars, mountains, rivers, people, animals, fish, and others - as interdependent.

This interdependence is not just a physical dynamic. Yes, we live on the same earth, breathe the same air, and are all mortal. But tribal cultures understand it as a spiritual dynamic as well. Unlike the concept of human souls, which are believed to be eternal and preexisting, one's spirit, according to tribal wisdom, develops and grows as an integral aspect of a person living interdependently with the community and its environment. 

Today, these interdependent features of tribal spiritual wisdom can be applied with dramatic consequences to global leadership. Just as tribe members saw themselves as interdependent with their tribe and their spiritual deities and dictums, today's leaders must see themselves in similar interdependent terms to be tremendously successful on a global stage. However, the difference today is that interdependence is not with a tribe but with people the world over and with the world environment. That is a profound, spiritual leadership lesson, hard but necessary to actualize, from which great leadership results flow. 

How do we actualize this spiritual imperative? Enter the Leadership Talk. It works on the premise that excellent results happen primarily when leaders build a deep, human, emotional connection with people. When I first began developing and teaching it, I saw it as a powerful results generator. It is that. The Leadership Talk is the most powerful leadership results generator of all. But I had not understood why until recently. Now, I see each one of those descriptors, "deep, human, emotional," which grew organically out of my having to collaborate with leaders challenged to get impressive results, are fundamentally spiritual. That is because they are predicated on the spiritual wisdom of interdependence. The Leadership Talk has helped leaders get great, material results for 25 years because its driving methodologies are fundamentally spiritual.

Globalization is forcing broad and profound changes in human relationships as organizations are being challenged to achieve more meaningful results than ever before. When you understand that the best results come from experimental processes bolstered with spiritual dynamics connected to tribal wisdom, you will have an opportunity to achieve an unmatched competitive advantage in the world marketplace.

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