Transpersonal Leadership: Becoming the 21st Century leader

The 21st Century leaders should embody transpersonal leadership. They should go beyond their ego, be emotionally aware and caring, yet focused on performance enhancement and sustainability.

7 mins read

The world is full of people who can lead or are already leaders. Most of these people have already proven that they are determined, hardworking, and driven. However, what has been lacking is in the leadership spheres is transpersonal leadership. These are leaders who lead beyond their ego, putting first the stakeholders of their organizations, the community and care for the planet. They are radical, ethical, and authentic.

Transpersonal leadership can only be developed by those who are committed to change and delight in continuous improvement. They thrive from listening to and learning from themselves and others and are the 21st century best leaders, suited to tackle today’s organizational challenges.

Quoting from a McKinsey & Company article published late March 2020, “What leaders need during a crisis is not a predefined response plan but behaviors and mindsets that will prevent them from overreacting to yesterday’s developments and help them look ahead.”

McKinsey cites 5 practices or mindsets that will enable leaders to bring their organisations through any turbulent times. They are; organizing to respond to crises, elevating leaders during a crisis, making decisions amid uncertainty, demonstrating empathy, and communicating effectively. This article will show how those who develop as transpersonal leaders are those who are best prepared to do this.

1. The Right Mindset to Leadership

This approach self-evidently enables a mindset that offers a long-term perspective. Because, if leaders are balancing the needs of stakeholders in a values-conscious way, they will not cut corners or put short term gains at the forefront of decisions. This meets the need to slow down and not overreact.

It naturally gives them the tendency to look ahead at or beyond the immediate horizon. It also means that leaders whose ego is not in the driving seat will have the humility to appreciate that in a crisis (especially), they do not have all the answers and understand that leadership and decision-making needs to be distributed to those who have the best knowledge and information.

Those who are driven by their ego, for example, will take center stage and proclaim to have the answers, ignoring or side-lining the experts who could give a more realistic assessment of a situation, managing people’s expectations. The transpersonal leader will value the expertise of those around and enable that to be disseminated to achieve the best outcome.

“During a crisis, leaders must relinquish the belief that a top-down response will engender stability.” —McKinsey

2. Involve more people

The next area to consider is the crucial importance of distributed leadership, which follows naturally from the transpersonal perspective. To explain further, in a crisis, using diverse perspectives enables the unthinkable to be brought to the table, it avoids groupthink and enables more effective solutions.

One way towards devolving leadership in times of crisis is through the organisation of a network of teams. This can tackle discrete responsibilities and are empowered to communicate with each other to create a complete picture before coming to decisions. Decisions that they are authorized to take. That’s right, without a need for approval from the top.

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To achieve this requires not just the humility previously referred to but also transparency, trust, and effective communication. A transpersonal leader has traveled a road where these attributes have been developed, alongside a honed appreciation of how to improve judgment and decision making.

3. The decision-making process

The transpersonal leader learns that we have five-step decision-making processes, of which only one is conscious. Harnessing and bringing into greater awareness, the processes that lie below consciousness enables them to detach from their emotional reactions or unconscious biases. This allows them to take a pause, stand back, and allow the distributed responsibilities to be exercised by teams that they have assembled, using all these capacities.

This same approach can enable a group to be assembled to look at preparedness for the post-crisis recovery. The heightened awareness of the transpersonal leader means they can be freed up from the constraints of dealing with the details of the immediate challenges of the crisis itself.

Thus, the transpersonal leader can set the ‘future-focused’ group up with the autonomy to use their fully conscious decision-making processes to create a myriad of ‘what if’ options. From this diverse and open thinking comes agility to take the best actions, as areas of clarity emerge.

“Leaders with the right temperament and character are necessary during times of uncertainty. They stay curious and flexible but can still make the tough calls, even if that makes them unpopular. They gather different perspectives and then make the decisions, with the best interests of the organisation (not their careers) in mind, without needing a full consensus.” —McKinsey

Read Also: Strategic Organisational Alignment Drives Greater Results

The transpersonal touchstone explored

Each of us should have our list of core values that we can populate the touchstone with. Some of the values are integral to them while others represent the way the transpersonal leader brings their values into the world and guides their actions.

Checking thinking and decisions against one’s values and the transpersonal qualities is the foundation. This stepping back to gain clarity creates the sound mindset and behaviors that are indispensable in leading through and out the other side of any crisis. It allows boldness to be tempered with just enough prudence to maximize the upsides of the situation.

Anybody can travel the path to Transpersonal Leadership. The journey is ideally taken with the support of an accredited Transpersonal Leadership Coach. It is a path you can choose to follow to lead your organisation out of the depths of a crisis through to the sunny uplands of recovery.



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