Being a leader is not just about a team reporting to you. A good leader must also inspire, and at the same time hold their ground in situations where their ideas are challenged. It is the leader’s persona and commitment that can keep a team together, and make them work towards a shared goal—that which benefits not just the individuals involved but the organization as a whole. In his book, Awakening A Leader’s Soul, global business educator Gaurav Bhalla uses famous poems—from Rudyard Kipling, Robert Frost and Walt Whitman to Confucius—to present a people-centric narrative focused on the purpose of leadership. Bhalla says it’s vital that leaders have traits like empathy and humility. From handling a team to implementing your vision for the company, Bhalla’s book lists simple steps to become a “soulful leader". We take a look at the four key takeaways from the book.

Be a nobody

A person’s ego is commonly equated with self-esteem. Many argue that a “healthy" self-esteem is required in leaders. But the author says that self-esteem and ego are two separate things. A healthy self-esteem is required in any leadership role, because it helps to cope with complex and conflicting demands that a leader will face. However, ego can affect the way leaders relate to people. Thus, a leader with an ego will have a disastrous impact on the organization.

Bhalla says a leader should increasingly look at being a “nobody". This does not mean being someone who has no power. A “nobody model" encourages leaders to operate away from the spotlight. It is a collaborative method that encourages new ideas and, thereby, restores trust in a leader.

Self-reliance is important

Many a times, team members will not see eye to eye with the leader. These contradictions and differences can get accentuated. Bhalla says in such situations, the leader should be self-reliant. The characteristics of a good leader include the ability to integrate, reconcile, and balance the demands of the moment with the needs of the others and remain confident in any situation. Also, as a leader, you can look at how others talk and behave, especially those who you view as self-reliant. Role-play an adversity from work, and see how your confidence can help you overcome that obstacle.

Be authentic

According to Bhalla, authentic leaders are people of substance who are also consistent. These leaders are reliable and have a continuous and clear comprehensible rationale that guides their decisions. An authentic leader is also original—one who develops his own path and signature. Bhalla suggests that if this style affects team work, leaders should discuss with their peers what aspect is causing harm and brainstorm for solutions.

Have a clear vision

A leader without a vision will never be able to guide an organization to its goal. If leaders are confused, it will reflect in their vision. If they have vested interest, that will also reflect. So will their values and priorities. Bhalla advises leaders to have a clear vision which incorporates three key elements: clarity, choice and commitment. Clarity of purpose is important because it will promote shared meaning and coordinated action. Choice is vital because a leader must take decisions to make the organization grow. Third, without commitment, a vision will remain merely an idea, an empty promise.

A good way to imbibe the 3Cs into any leader’s life will be to see what forums could and should exist to encourage people to discuss their dreams and visions for themselves, for their team and the entire organization. Identify an obstacle to your vision, then implement one initiative to overcome that obstacle.

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