When we read the papers these days or watch television, or consult social media we can easily be filled with sadness and even despair.
We seem to have “leaders” who have no boundaries to the hurt they impose on others.
On Leadership Failures
If we made a list of the hundred worst leaders who do more harm than good, the list would be a horrible summary of humanity’s disgrace. The list would include men and women from all over the world; some from under-developed countries and some from so-called developed countries.
When we confront the evil lives of those who start wars, displace millions of people, abuse and oppress the needy, destroy jobs and families for a better bottom line, use others with no respect for their dignity, we cannot but be overwhelmed by leadership failures.
Certainly, we need leaders who can heal others instead of harming them, but first and foremost it is increasingly obvious that leaders must heal themselves.
On Regretful Leadership
History and contemporary experiences show us leaders who have led followers to atrocities, violence, hatred, division, and polarization.
But even locally many leaders diminish and become less than they could be because of their own leadership styles.
Some leaders are immersed in denial, arrogance, and deceit, and their leadership makes them inhuman. Domineering, arrogant, greedy leaders create victims everywhere. In many organizations, the boss who is responsible for vision, values, and standards cause regretful leadership.
- No sense of responsibility
- No vision
- No values
- No standards
Much contemporary organizational disease that cries out for healing results from leaders’ inauthentic, that is, sick ways of thinking and desiring. Other leaders, at least become aware of a gnawing sense of regret for their leadership failures.
Leaders must heal themselves of their own failures and bring harmony into their own lives.
On Healing Leadership
The primary focus of healing leadership is the self-healing of the leader, who like everyone else yearns for wholeness. So much pseudo-leadership today is a festering wound that must be cleansed and disinfected before it will ever heal.
An individual leader must always appreciate that he or she needs healing in order to effectively serve others and the organization.
Perhaps, leaders should take an oath similar to the physicians; first do no harm.
Some so-called leaders could only have a healing influence on the organization by resigning. There are situations that cannot be healed, such as those that arise from deliberate evil and unethical decisions of a controlling boss.
Moreover, individuals who have been absolute jerks for years and years need psychological counseling before change is possible. Healing self from greed, ambition, and controlling attitudes need:
- A focus on others
- A new view of self
- A new commitment to integrity
On Appreciative Leadership
A leader who wishes to heal others needs self-care, a healthy lifestyle, and behavioral changes where appropriate. He or she also needs to appreciate the meaning of life, have some personal understanding of suffering and sickness, appreciate the benefits of personal healing, and be open to the healing effects of others.
Once a person understands his or her own need of healing, he or she can then appreciate the advantages of healing for others.
A leader then hopes for his or her own change and for others’ too.
The Hopeful Leader
A leader of hope must also deal with the negativity and pain that come with leading others. At times, leaders work with awkward and difficult employees, suffer the stress and even agony of decision-making, and face the anguish of attempting to resolve gut-wrenching situations.
They must cope with the personally felt consequences of job stress, burnout, accidents, others’ harassment, terminations, losses to the organization when workers retire, and even the pressures of success.
Leaders frequently need to deal with their own pain and with the pain of others and find that leadership can impact one’s health, relationships, sense of purpose, and fulfillment. They can be dedicated to the community and feel lonely. Of course, a sick organization makes good leaders of hope sick too, unless they can steel themselves against it.
Healing self in these situations is part of the ongoing conversion of a leader. It means overcoming personal sin, even the small tendencies to selfishness that tend to weaken one’s wholehearted commitment. A leader’s journey is away from self-centeredness to self-transcendence and to a focusing on the importance of others.
- Removing prejudice
- Being open to others
- Listening more
- Talking less
- Being more attentive
- Less distracted
- Valuing others more
- Judging others less
- Centering on the legacy of others
Healing of Self
It will also include working for trust and never presuming it, telling the truth and living the truth in love, communicating well and clarifying positions and values, guaranteeing others their own space, maintaining a vision of high hopes amid the mini despairs.
The training of leaders to self-healing includes integrity, honesty, breaking down barriers, releasing others’ potential, being magnanimous in dealing with others.
Healing of self is a redirection of one’s mind and heart and is an integral component of successful spiritual leadership.
So how are you doing at taking an honest look at your personal leadership flaws and identifying where you are broken? How can you work to find remedies to replace areas of trouble. With whom can you seek advise and coaching to improve your personal leadership effectiveness? I would love to hear your thought!
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Dr. Leonard Doohan is an Author and Workshop Presenter
He focuses on issues of spiritual leadership
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This is a fine, insightful article.
In my book, “The Leadership Dance”, I tell the story of my own healing and share the amazing results that were achieved when I became a much more effective leader. I learned to work with the people rather than on them. I spent 5 hours a day walking my Plant, listening, talking with the people and learning together. We had an amazing journey together. http://www.RNKnowlesAssociates.com for more information.