Matthew Fox said: “ The crisis in work today is so deep and so deeply felt we must go to some of our finest thinkers, the mystics - the poets of the soul.”
What if we can think of work in the context of awe and wonder and not only in terms of analysis and utilitarianism? What if we could explore the human aspect of the leadership’s experience?
These are the guiding questions I have explored in The Poetry of Leadership, a collection of poems (from The Whisper) and practices that guide us to tap into the power of imagination and language a leader must access with integrity and awareness to lead effectively self, then others and subsequently change.
Why poetry? Poetry can re-affirm our humanity and re-awaken our inner wisdom. It can help us remember what makes us alive…Our art… Or as I call it heart. Poetry, with its paradoxes challenges the myths and practices of those organisations overly focussed only on outcome, profit and results neglecting the humanity behind those results.
If we look at re-defining business as a journey of humankind development and collective growth, business and leadership become a human experience of shaping ourselves in connection with the world.
We are so used to think of a leader or seeing ourselves as the one who are constantly out there trying to manage everything, and then feeling like we are a failure at doing it.
We have created a legend, a myth of leadership that isn’t human anymore. It’s a concept identified out there, far from being reached or reached only after enormous sacrifices.
I remember a younger me leading global teams and the feeling of being cut off from other people and shut away from my own life, so dependent on other people’s opinion, performance assessment and judgements.
In this super fast ever changing and demanding world we are constantly looking or trying to prevent something, always a little distracted because there is always something more important to be attended just ahead of us.
I remember the distinct desire of wanting to feel myself part of something instead I felt constantly cut off, at times even disconnected; in the words of Milner: "cut off, missing things, like being sent to bed early as a child, the blinds being drawn while the sun and cheerful voices came through the chink from the garden."
When I wrote The Whisper I began to discover that there were a multitude of ways of being and perceiving leadership. This self-awareness had a central point of interest in observing what being a leader and leading oneself meant. This being could not be explained but needed to be experienced and felt.
It drove me to think how I could make it accessible to others too. The words of the poet Mary Oliver came to my mind. In an interview to SoundsTrue Mary discussed the "spells" that keep us feeling separate from life as well as the remedies that bring us more fully into the energetic flow of existence. In my view this being into the flow of existence is true leadership.
Mary Oliver spoke of the need for curiosity and the role it plays in uniting our attention with our experience. Attention and presence are critical skills for a leader (we are all leaders) who desires to create a positive impact not only in their lives but also in the lives of the people they touch and in society.
The skills I had learnt to cultivate while writing The Whisper supported me to come into alignment with myself and life. These skills were, as described by Mary Oliver: curiosity, spaciousness and inquiry.
The Poetry of Leadership offers an opportunity and a practice to be curious, create space for development and growth and learn how to be in the question awaiting for the answers to unfold or surface from deep within us.
When we master these three skills together, we start to transform our leadership presence, we begin to see through the clouds of conditioning and come back to our humanity.
Each step we take, on this path of growing our leadership, is a step into our own becoming more human. Each step that is chosen, deliberately, makes wholeness out of inspiration and in dialogue with the world.
Each step opens our heart and our vision to whom and what we serve, how we serve, and how we express that which has no shape or form, the soul’s essence of our leadership.
The journey takes time, and space, and the willingness to commit to the being rather than only the doing; even when those choices seemingly make no strategic sense.
May this be the beginning of a deeper exploration into the human aspect of the leadership’s experience.
The Poetry of Leadership is part of a robust offering of talks, workshops and programs that use storytelling, poetry and heart in an innovative and yet practical methodology that has helped leaders and teams to reach their goals, tap into their creativity, broaden their awareness and improve trust within the organisations they lead. For more information on my work please visit www.rnewb.com and feel free to get in contact with me.