Business | Analysis

Vision is never an afterthought for a leader

Need of the time is for societies to be led by ‘conscious leaders’

  • By Deepak Chopra, Special to Gulf News
  • Published: 06:18 September 10, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Dana A.Shams/©Gulf News

Dubai: Visionary leaders don’t need wealth and status as a means of success, they need inner wisdom and they need to be the hero of their own story.

Compassion, vision, love, and focused attention are some of the qualities of inspired leadership, contrary to what the media and many historical examples may tell us.

Nowhere on that list, for example, are money, force, or material status. A truly great leader operates from the soul level, inspired by vision and inner wisdom as opposed to greed. Do you have what it takes to be a great leader?

A good story is the story of the hero’s quest, and a hero’s quest begins with a dream. This is why all great leaders are visionaries. They ask themselves mythical questions: Who am I? What do I want? Who are the heroes and mentors our society can learn from?

History traffics in myth-making, which is based on personal charisma and uses spin to evoke an aura of destiny. But it is alarming to witness how often leaders come to power through the force of arms and money.

When the strong and ruthless rise on the world stage, we find ourselves led by generals, autocrats and dictators, power-hungry premiers and presidents. Leadership of this sort is flawed. Power and prestige do nothing to ensure leaders like this will actually improve the lives of those who follow them.

A truly successful leader learns to cultivate power as the result of being tuned in to an inner voice and guided by intuition. The inspired leader walks a path laid out by the own soul, characterised by love, creativity, and intelligence. The leader strives for alignment with the greater, collective society.

In this way, listening comes first, followed by comprehension, empathy, and, finally, action.

In the midst of chaos, certain individuals step out of the shadows in order to lead society in new directions necessary for further evolution. Only a truly great leader will find wisdom in the face of mythic-proportion challenges. And only a leader who operates from the soul level, with vision, creativity and love will be remembered as such.

In a world were democracy is cultivated through the leaders of the nation, Arab world leaders are no different to leaders around the globe, they too face challenges leading a nation full of multinationals – but they know how they want their country to be led now and how to sustain that leadership.

Similarly, young and developing countries where maintaining economic sustainability is a challenge, leadership is equally as difficult. Leadership in developing countries needs to be strong and mirror the needs of the people; if the country’s economy is to be a success the leadership needs to a stringent partnership between those in power and the people they aim to lead.

Leaders need to be transparent and have an open relationship with countrymen. The bottom-line is leaders need to use the power they have to help develop not only themselves but the country they lead – this is the recipe for successful leadership.

It’s inevitable that power gets wielded to benefit some and disappoint others. To keep rivals at bay, some leaders create an atmosphere of intimidation, hoping to instill enough fear to keep power within their grasp.

Even so, the Shakespearean maxim of “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown” extends to power in general, which brings anxiety and fretfulness at every level of success, along with various temptations for the ego to run wild. To alter this situation requires a different learning curve, one that begins early in anyone’s career.

This learning curve isn’t about management skills but about self-awareness.

The choice really falls to you, so I’ll point out that in a smaller world with limited resources and a looming sense of planetary peril, the conscious leaders are going to be more and more valuable. Ruthless plunder and swaggering disregard for nature’s balance aren’t things we can afford much longer.

Human ingenuity guarantees that there will always be new avenues for success. Choosing to be a conscious leader doesn’t imply that your rise to the top will be thwarted. It’s really a matter of the road less traveled.

We aren’t used to living with conscious capitalism, and yet our survival depends on it. Similarly, we desperately need conscious government and a conscious military. A new power base that can deliver sustainability is the key to success from now on.

The only question is how long it will take for society to create leaders with enough vision to see it.

 

A bestselling author, Deepak Chopra will helm ‘The Future of Wellbeing’ event in Dubai on September 17.

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