Monday, July 11, 2011

Leading With Soul by Lee G. Bolman & Terrence E. Deal

Leading With Soul: An Uncommon Journey of Spirit (Jossey-Bass Management)Leading With Soul: An Uncommon Journey of Spirit by Lee G. Bolman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Leading With Soul
Authors: Lee G. Bolman & Terrence E. Deal
Publisher: Jossey-Bass

In the book, Leading With Soul: An Uncommon Journey of Spirit, Bolman and Deal use a contemporary parable of a business leader named Steve, a conflicted executive who seeks counsel from Maria, a spiritual director. Maria assists Steve in a journey of awakening to his own inner world of soul and feelings. As Steve begins to get deeper into the personal aspects of himself he begins to change and so does his style of leadership. As he brings feelings into the workplace it is difficult at first but as time goes by the results are positive not only for Steve, but for his employees and company.

This story of Steve and Maria is told during the course of several meetings. With each of these visits Maria helps Steve recognize the importance of his own spirit that he has ignored. Between each of his visits with Maria, Steve struggles with himself and tests the ideas he's learned from Maria. With each meeting he describes the outcomes of his previous experiments. These outcomes are not always successful. But Maria assures him that change doesn’t come easy.

Maria knows that she must help Steve understand that the spirit is in everything around us. She uses nature to begin the transformation of Steve within himself. Throughout the book Maria explains the four gifts she believes are the answer for working with others effectively. These four gifts are love, authorship, power, and significance. Between visits with Maria, Steve tackles giving the gifts on his employees to get a deeper understanding of them. Steve learns is that timing is critical when learning about and using these gifts with others if you want them accepted. With love he found that it combines caring and compassion and must be shown in both good times and bad. Steve realizes that with authorship he must give his employees the ability to take on responsibility so there can be a sense of accomplishment that is so important for job satisfaction. He also comes to realize that he needs to empower his employees so they feel some autonomy in getting things done. Now he sees how power is one of the important gifts that Maria has talked about in their meetings. The fourth gift of significance, Steve discovered on his own when an anniversary celebration went awry. He realized after talking with Maria that significance blends ritual, spontaneity, and celebration and it is an importance aspect of creativity sharing on the job.

What appeared to be Steve's hardest lesson, however, is that of passing the torch. By story's end, Maria has become gravely ill and has died. Now, Steve must continue on his journey of self-exploration and growth by himself. Even more importantly, he must carry on the work of sharing the four gifts and showing others the importance of leading with soul.

Through out the book Maria is telling Steve that we must all make our own way and not put someone else in charge of our spiritual journey. We must recognize and trust the power within ourselves, and be ready for the new growth. I have not been to any management or leadership programs but according to the authors most of these programs ignore or demean spirit. The authors talk about infusing the leadership programs with spirit filled forms of such things as poetry, literature, art, music, history, philosophy, and dance. If this was done individuals would be able to reclaim their hearts, soul, and spirits. Then they could share their gifts from the heart.

Now for my response to the book. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. The sole reason this one got chosen over the other two is simply because I found this one on eBay for one dollar. I have since bought the other two and will read them next. I really enjoyed this book. It was in an easy to read format and very easy to understand. I really enjoyed being taken through Steve’s journey and his meetings with Maria. It made the whole learning experience feel almost like I was there with Steve learning at the same time. I am not in a leadership position but intend to use the gifts with my students this next school year because I believe it will work just as well for them as it will for adults in the workplace. I will give them love, authorship, power, and significance as I attempt to do it in the same fashion as Maria by allowing them to make their own way through the journey.

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