Leadership is a very elusive concept. Are leaders born or are they made? Does Leadership always promote good causes and outcomes or does it traffic in the immoral or evil, at times? What caused Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam Hussein and countless others throughout history to use their leadership gifts and abilities towards such evil ends? Deepak Chopra, the renowned author, and lecturer maintains that every leader, regardless of the goodness of the cause they are initially promoting, has a ‘shadow energy’ that portends the dark side of their personalities. According to Chopra, there are seven types of Leaders: Protector, Entrepreneur/Politician, Team Builder, Nurturer, Innovator, Visionary and Saint. Chopra maintains that each of these, including the Saint, has a shadow energy. To illustrate, let us take a look at the shadow energy of the Entrepreneur/Politician type of leader, as described by Chopra.
Chopra states that the Entrepreneur/Politician, for instance, has an insatiable need for achievement, with a leadership response that is driven by ego. Their frame of reference is self-image, and they are object referred. In other words, Chopra submits, their “thinking and behavior are always in anticipation of a response. It is, therefore, fear-based.” He goes on to say that in object referral, “we always feel an intense need to control things. We feel an intense need for eternal power. The need for approval, the need to control things, and the need for external power are needs based on fear.” And, their ‘shadow energy’ is made up of behaviors based on “ruthlessness, perfectionism, intimidation, stubbornness, manipulation, control, selfishness, greed, influence peddling, power mongering, cronyism, and corruption.” This definition does not include all corporate and political leaders. However, the potential for the manifestation of their ‘shadow energy’ is always present–given the right circumstances. Every leader, regardless of the type, should always be vigilant about keeping their ‘shadow energy‘ in check.
One way to keep this ‘shadow energy’ in check is to practice what I am calling Moral Leadership. My definition of Moral Leadership is a sacred covenant between the leader and followers characterized by the leader being ethical, humble, intentional, directional and supportive. Moral leadership, when consciously and consistently practiced, will release the creative energies of the followers. By being ethical on a day to day, minute to minute basis, the moral leader sets the bar high for his/her organization. Regarding humility, a humble leader, first and foremost, listens and does not hog the credit for all the accomplishments of the group. He or she sits down and gives credit to the team when things go well and will stand up to take responsibility when things don’t go so well. Being intentional means explicitly stating why we are doing what we’re doing. As Warren Bennis pointed out, directional leadership requires the leader to “do the right thing” versus the manager’s obligation to “do things right.” How many times have we observed a group being very efficient and effective at doing the WRONG thing? Finally, the enlightened leader is supportive regarding his/her time, coaching, feedback and allocation of resources needed to accomplish the stated goal(s). Remember that a realistic and well-executed goal is always more impactful than the unrealistic, yet, well-written one.
In closing, based on my years of observing leaders, good and bad, I have come up with seven qualities that effective leaders both possess and use.
- Initiative: readiness and ability in initiating action, enterprise
- Intuition: a keen and quick insight
- Insight: penetrating mental vision or discernment
- Integrity: adherence to moral and ethical principles
- Intellect: the capacity for thinking and acquiring knowledge
- Instinct: an innate impulse, inclination towards action
- Introspection: the act or process of looking into oneself.
Note that each of the qualities starts with the letter “I.” As Michael Jordan once said, “There is no ‘I’ in Team, but there is in WIN!”