Leadership : The Art of Enlightened Leadership

‘If you want to learn how to govern… Show people the way back to their own true nature.’

In addition to The Way of Harmony, Jim Dreaver is the author of The Ultimate Cure, a book about transformation, and Somatic Technique, a guide to mind/body integration. He has been teaching in the fields of healing, stress-management, personal mastery, and leadership development for twenty years.

E-Mail: jdreaver@aol.com

If you are a student of the art of leadership, the subject of enlightenment will probably be of interest to you. It may be that you are a leader in your industry, your community, your field or area of expertise. You find yourself inspired by stories of great leadership. You are moved by the example of individuals who embody such qualities as vision, courage, compassion, creative thinking, bold decision-making, and selfless service to humanity.

You want to be the best leader you can possibly be. It makes you feel good to be a positive force in helping influence, shape, or direct the creative energy of others. You want to be of service. You like being part of a group, team, or organization that has good chemistry, one where every member or player feels a sense of kinship with each other, and is united around a common goal. You know from experience what it takes to create such unity, and you are willing to take responsibility to help in making it happen.

You understand the power of multiplication, and what can be accomplished when a group of conscious, focused people come together in the pursuit of a shared vision. You want to use that power to not only produce great results, but to make your organization, your community--and ultimately, our world--a better place.

If this is the kind of leader you are, or want to be, then whether you think of it in these terms or not, you are on a journey to enlightenment. The greatest leaders in history, after all, have been the enlightened ones. This has always been the case. The ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, spoke about this thousands of years ago, in the Tao Te Ching his classic guide to enlightened living:

‘If you want to learn how to govern… Show people the way back to their own true nature.’

If, as a leader, you want to be able to bring out the highest and best in others, you must have achieved a certain level of mastery within yourself, a true meeting of wisdom and love. You don’t have to be a saint, you don’t have to be completely without ego. But your mind must be clear, your heart open, and you must know how to be present without any personal agenda, which is one of the signs of enlightenment.

Anyone can be present with an agenda--a self-centered motive--but it takes a very conscious and inwardly free, or awakened person, to be present without one. Only then can you be truly open and available to the untapped creative potential that exists in each moment. Only from that place of clear, loving presence can you build, create, and nurture an enlightened team or organization.

Nagarjuna, a philosopher-sage who lived in India about five hundred years after the Buddha, understood how critical enlightenment was in the art of leadership. He went so far as to say this:

‘If a ruler cannot implement a politics of enlightenment, then he or she must abandon the throne to pursue enlightenment first.’

Now, to me, this does not mean that if you are struggling, say, with fostering an enlightened and harmonious work environment, you need to necessarily resign your position or office and go off on a long spiritual retreat in a mountaintop monastery somewhere. But it does mean that you must take some time out from your busy schedule to do some inner work.

Make enlightenment, your own inner peace and clarity, more of a priority in your life. Draw upon the resources that will feed your soul, nourish your heart, and enlighten your mind. Read the books, take the trainings, and get the coaching that will support you in this process and that will allow you to return to your leadership responsibilities with renewed clarity, vision, and passion.

Above all, take your own counsel. Spend time alone in meditation and contemplation. Listen to the voice of truth that comes from deep within you. Develop a trusting relationship with your own intuition and inner guidance. The more you do this, the more you will be able to empower others to do it. You will model conscious, enlightened behavior for them. You will inspire them to dive more deeply within themselves. This is how you become a great leader.

© Jim Dreaver, 2003

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