Deepak Chopra on the Soul of Leadership
“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” — Deepak Chopra
I was listening to Deepak Chopra the other day, on how to be a more effective leader. Deepak always makes me think, but what I especially liked about this talk was the way he breathed new life into an old topic. In this case, he took leadership to a new level by talking about the “soul” of leadership and providing a rich framework for flexing and testing your leadership skills.
How To Define a Leader
Deepak described a leader as “the symbolic soul of a group of consciousness.” He said that group consciousness could be a family, an organization, a community, a country or the whole world. He went on to say that the leader represents the longings, the aspirations, the deepest desires of the group, so in a sense, “the soul.”
A 7 Step Framework for Leaders
If you can spell “Leaders”, that’s the key to remembering Deepak’s leadership framework. Each letter represents a different aspect of being an effective leader:
- L – LOOK and LISTEN. Look and listen with your flesh – eyes and ears. Look and listen with your mind – so you analyze the facts. Look and listen with your heart — how do you feel about things? Paint a vision. The vision has to be compelling. It has to be inspiring. It has to be a story. Deepak says we can get all the facts, but what gives soul to facts is story. The story has to authentic and it has to make a difference in our lives. Without the story, facts remain clinical. People are actually buying into a story, not the facts.
- E – EMOTIONAL BONDING. Be comfortable with your own emotions. Understand the emotions of others. Use emotional intelligence. Manage relationship in a way that fosters that bonding. Deepak says that when people are emotionally bonded they are much more effective.
- A – AWARENESS. Be aware of needs and know what’s needed here. Deepak reminded us there are 7 levels of need from safety to survival to belonging to self-esteem to creative expression to hired consciousness to success.
- D – DOING. Be action-oriented. If you’re not taking action, then it’s just a dream. Be a role model for action. As a tip, Deepak suggests asking your colleagues, “Am I doing what I said i was doing?” Ask for feedback. Take calculated risks. If you’re not going to task risks, then the story remains the same. According to Deepak, the story only changes when you take calculated risks.
- E – EMPOWER YOURSELF. Empower others. One of the best ways you can empower others is by noticing their strengths. Deepak pointed out that according to Gallup research, if you don’t notice their strength, they disengage. If you criticize them, their disengagement goes up by 20%. If you ignore them, it goes up by 45%. If you notice a single strength, disengagement falls to less than 1%.
- R – RESPONSIBILITY. Take initiative. Take risks. Above all maintain good health. Deepak says that .leaders who are really effective are emotionally and physically grounded and stable. That means getting good sleep, exercising, watching their diet, and they now how to manage stress.
- S – SYNCHRONICITY.
How To Inspire Others
Deepak shared a simple recipe for inspiring others:
- Adversity, uncertainty, chaos that actually drives the creative impulse.
- Welcome periods of adversity.
- Welcome periods of crisis.
- If you don’t have a crisis, create one.
- Once you create a crisis, you will see there is opportunity there.
- People’s behavior is determined and their impulse to create and their impulse to move into the future and their productivity is actually created by how they perceive a situation.
Deepak also said he prefers “inspire” over “motivate” because to him, motivation is just mental and doesn’t last, whereas inspiration is about inspiring the spirit.
Always Look for the Opportunity
What separates the “lucky” from the “unlucky”? According to Deepak, the difference that makes the difference is looking for opportunity. Deepak shares the following strategies to find more opportunities:
- Always look for the opportunity in the situation.
- Always look for what’s happening.
- Don’t follow the culture, you have to lead the culture.
- Set the gold standard.
- Welcome adversity.
- Welcome the unknown.
- Welcome uncertainty.
- Look for the future.
Lucky ones see opportunities where other people see problems. We’re surrounded by opportunities all the time.
Instill Hope in Others
When the chips are down, one of the things that keeps everybody going is hope. Deepak is a fan of instilling hope in other. Here’s a pragmatic way he shared to rekindle the hope in others:
- Ask the people on your team to give a three minute speech about what’s good about what we’re doing.
- Ask everybody else to say what they learned from that person about what’s good about what we’re doing.
- Reframe the problems as challenges and opportunities.
Deepak says that if you have 10 people say what’s good about what we’re doing, and then each person gets to express that, you feel hopeful and inspired. In my experience, this is both a simple and effective exercise for bootstrapping hope and opportunity.
Ask yourself How To Co-Create the Future
Rather than be a victim of circumstance or play the blame game, you can shape your path forward by asking yourself some resourceful questions. Deepak shared the following questions as a way to own your future:
- Ask yourself what kind of world do I want to live in?
- What kind of organization do I want to create?
- What kind of team do I want to be in?
- What’s my role in creating this?
With the insight, perspective, and framing that Deepak shared, this was more than just a talk – it was an experience.
Photo by Joi.