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InfoQ Homepage Articles Q&A on the Book Soul-Centered Leadership

Q&A on the Book Soul-Centered Leadership

Key Takeaways

  • Learn how to unlock the natural leader within you; the one that leads from your heart, not the ego
  • Gain true inner confidence and inspire loyalty
  • Practice self-compassion as you realize your true self-worth
  • Connect to your true nature as a creator
  • Actually enjoy work and the value you bring to the world

The book Soul-Centered Leadership by Michael Anderson provides ideas and exercises for developing skills to lead people while being in touch with your soul. It explores a leadership approach based on emotional intelligence, psychology, and spirituality.

InfoQ readers can download an extract of soul-centered leadership.

InfoQ interviewed Michael Anderson about how soul-centered leadership differs from other leadership approaches, what a leader can do if she or he feels like being a fraud, advice for leading self-organizing teams and how courage matters when leading teams, how you can shift towards a service mindset, and how you can develop leadership skills based on a soul-centered approach.

InfoQ: What made you decide to write this book?

Michael Anderson: After years of being a corporate executive then starting and running my own companies, I found I wasn’t fulfilled. I had a low-point that consisted of divorce, lawsuits, drugs, and alcohol. Figuring (and hoping!) there was a better way to go through life, I earned a Master’s Degree in Spiritual Psychology. My whole life transformed, and my businesses and career took off. Not only that, I found that inner peace, joy, and fulfillment.

InfoQ: For whom is it intended?

Anderson: There’s two groups. It’s for leaders who are already successful yet want to find a better way to go about leading, creating, and finding fulfillment; It also teaches people looking to move upwards in their career who want to learn how to unlock the natural leader within them.

InfoQ: What is soul-centered leadership?

Anderson: It’s a way to have people transform their business life – and personal life – through the application of Spiritual Psychology. It’s one-third emotional intelligence, one-third psychology, and one-third spirituality.

InfoQ: How does it differ when compared to other leadership approaches?

Anderson: Soul-Centered Leadership teaches people how to connect to their most powerful, pure aspect; their soul. The exercises provided inside show how to overcome ego-based patterns and subconscious self-limiting beliefs in service to bringing forward their true nature as a creator. We’re meant to create, and we’re meant to do that from a loving, compassionate state of mind. We just need to get rid of everything blocking us from doing just that.

InfoQ: What if a leader feels that she or he is a fraud, what can they learn from soul-centered leadership?

Anderson: It’s great to hear you bring that up. When I really get to know a leader, every single one of them have this fear that others will find out that they view themselves as a fraud. Not just people at work, but also, and especially their partner / spouse / kids. Personally, when I found out that I wasn’t the only one that was experiencing this “fraud guilt” or “imposter syndrome,” and that it was actually quite common, just knowing that was a big relief.

A simple exercise to gain more confidence and reduce anxiety, is every evening, replay the day in your head. Then, write down all the positive things that you’ve done. Make them specific, and list anything and everything, no matter how big or small. Made your spouse smile, gave a compliment to someone, closed a big deal, saved an employee from quitting. What you will find out is that you’re actually awesome! The world is a much better place with you in it. Keep adding to the list on the page, and in a few days you will have this amazing list. Knowing and reflecting all the positive changes that you are affecting is a strong way to improve your self-worth.

InfoQ: What's the difference between reacting and responding to a situation?

Anderson: A reaction is what naturally happens, and a response is what you mindfully choose to do. For example, if you lose a client, your reactions might be that your angry. I would be – I hate to lose customers! But after that brief period of anger, you can choose how you show up. You could call the customer to try and get them back. If you can’t do that, find out why you lost them, so you can put systems in place so it never happens again. Then you can have it as a rallying cry for your sales team to get back the lost revenue. At the end of the day, those responses would make your company a whole lot stronger than just getting pissed off.

InfoQ: What's your advice for leading a self-organizing team?

Anderson: I would make sure there is regular times and systems devoted to communication. Sometimes teams (just like families) are on autopilot so there is no time set aside for reflection and making sure things are on track relationship wise. Therefore a meeting maybe every month facilitated by an outside expert which teaches communication skills and allows for honest sharing is a must. We instituted this in the software companies that I founded and ran, I can say that it absolutely saved many talented people from quitting and vastly improved our effectiveness.

InfoQ: One of the values of Scrum is "courage". How does courage matter when leading a team?

Anderson: To be an effective leader in today’s world, you have to be vulnerable. And that absolutely takes courage. Maybe you make a decision that doesn’t work out. Instead of blaming others and playing a victim, you take ownership for it, and show your team a way out. That will earn you loyalty. No one expects you to be perfect; they do crave a leader that will be honest and straightforward.

InfoQ: What is a service mindset? And how can you shift towards it?

Anderson: A service mindset means that you are driven to do what you do because of the effect you have in the world. My companies used to be in the ERP world. You could think of this two ways; that we provide accounting software, or that we help companies run better. (That was our purpose, “To Help Companies Run Better.”) The people I hired just LOVED to solve companies problems. We would meet for dinner and talk about the ERP solutions we created for customers. We would read about it in our free time. While people cared about salary, it wasn’t what drove people. Everyone I hired (OK everyone that stayed longer than three months) had this overwhelming desire to eliminate efficiencies at our clients places of work. I know it sounds geeky, but that was us. And that, in our own way, was our competitive advantage.

InfoQ: What's your advice if people want to develop skills to lead using a soul-centered approach?

Anderson: In order to grow in anything, especially your Soul-Centered Leadership, you need a practice. No matter how many books you read, speakers you listen to, or YouTube videos you watch, then only way to change is to work on something regularly. That’s why in the book, I give both exercises as well as a community (that you are automatically given access to when you buy the book) that gives you the structure and support through a practice. I want to create change in people’s lives, and that’s how I’m doing it.

About the Book Author

R. Michael Anderson teaches leaders how to lead others - as well as themselves - from a Soul-Centered perspective, leaving the ego behind, and stepping into their true purpose. Michael has had success in business, starting, growing, and selling three software companies, some of which landed on the Inc. 500|5000 Fastest Growing Companies and winning Best Places to Work in San Diego, California. Successful but not fulfilled, hard drugs, divorce, depression, and lawsuits brought him to a low point. A quest for change included earning a master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica.

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