by Deepak Chopra

In almost every situation someone is called upon to lead. Taking up the call involves a conscious choice, and yet for many leaders, even those who are very experienced, not much consciousness is applied. If you ask a roomful of CEOs how they got where they are today -I've done this dozens of times when teaching a course on leadership for business people - the top answer is always "I was lucky." Looking back, CEOs and other top executives mainly recognize that they wound up in the right place at the right time.

There are courses in leadership everywhere, and most of them, so far as I can tell, use case studies. The performance of successful leaders is analyzed, with comparisons to less successful leaders. These courses no doubt produce a set of skills, but the tendency is for these skills to be technical and managerial - human skills are far harder to teach and pass on. Yet they are the key to persuading other people to follow you.

I've taken a different tack, arguing that leadership is all about consciousness. It has to be, since the response that a great leader inspires (loyalty, respect, emulation, love) is life-changing. Such responses are not evoked by well-trained managers. Skills can be developed in consciousness. This isn't a mystical area, although we must go beyond practical psychology. A successful leader isn't a psychological manipulator, power grabber, bully, or public relations hack. Success, as it is practiced consciously, brings a better life, inner and outer, to both the leader and the group he leads.

3 Secrets of Charisma! Why Bill Clinton is a charismatic leader

Courtesy of The Chopra Foundation

We'll focus on seven skills that fit a conscious leader, organized into the acronymsLEADERS. Below is a thumbnail sketch of these skills, which will be discussed one by one in the next seven posts.

L = Look and listen. Do this with your senses, being an unbiased observer who has not judged anything in advance. Do this with your heart, obeying your truest feelings. Finally, do this with your soul, responding with vision and deep purpose.

E = Emotional bonding. Leading from the soul means going beyond melodrama and crisis mode, getting rid of emotional toxicity to understand the specific needs of your followers.

A = Awareness. This means being aware of the following questions that underlie every challenge: Who am I? What do I want? What does the situation demand? A leader must ask these questions of himself and inspire his team to ask for themselves.

D = Doing. A leader must be action-oriented. In whatever he does he must serve as a role model, held responsible for the promises he has made. This requires persistence but also the ability to view any situation with flexibility and humor.

E = Empowerment. The soul’s power comes from self-awareness, which is responsive to feedback but independent of the good or bad opinion of others. Empowerment isn’t selfish. It raises the status of leader and follower together.

R = Responsibility. This means showing initiative, taking mature risks rather than reckless ones, walking the talk, having integrity, and living up to your inner values. Seen from the level of the soul, a leader’s greatest responsibility is to lead the group on the path of higher consciousness.

S = Synchronicity. This is a mysterious ingredient from the unconscious that all great leaders harness. Synchronicity is the ability to create good luck and find invisible support that carries a leader beyond predicted outcomes to a higher plane. In spiritual terms, synchronicity is the ultimate ability to connect any need with an answer from the soul.

by Dennis Roberts

In the Renaissance, once again the World Soul was understood to animate and form nature according to divine proportions. And once again the garden of the world was enchanted with magical power and transcendent meaning that was implicit in every part of nature, and the wonderful relationship between the imagination and the creative principle in life flourished. 

It was an extraordinary flowering that really came from the divine feminine within the imagination, and within life, and it was celebrated. Once again the garden of the soul was here in this world. It wasn’t just after you died, in heaven, in paradise; it was here, in the art that the Renaissance masters created. And this is why for some of us, the renaissance touches the soul so deeply now and why there has been a revival of understanding of what happened in the Renaissance. Because it had to do with the divine feminine and the divine feminine within life and that really is an expression of the anima mundi. She once again expressed Herself in the West in that beautiful artistic flowering that touches us so much.

LVL (not Luis Vuitton)

by Dennis Roberts

Diversity programs serve to highlight differences. They are born against a backdrop of competition, differentiation and scarcity. And yet they stand or fall, not on how effective they are at highlighting our differences, but in how effective they are at highlighting that we are born of one cloth.

This (re)unification of the differences is crucial to creating transformational growth and evolution in consciousness. Many well intentioned diversity agendas fall short in their ability to close the very gaps they serve to highlight.

Women only groups are often effective in uniting the very constituents they serve but in doing so may polarise the other half unless they lead to a new unified perspective. This is the fundamental short coming of all dualistic perspectives.

The opportunity for transformational growth is in how effectively we integrate our non-dominant energetic polarity. For example, if you have a dominant masculine essence, the opportunity for transformational growth rests with how you integrate more of your feminine (yin) essence. If you have a dominant feminine essence, your opportunity for transformational growth rests with how you integrate more of your masculine (yang) essence.

Challenge and opportunity are two heads of the same coin. How do we bring into balance these dualistic polarities? When we transcend duality we come to a place of unity, which signals a return to heart based consciousness, or that place called home, from which we originated. This is our true life’s work.

If you run a business networking group exclusively for women ask yourself, “Are you bridging the gap or are you polarising it further?” and “How can you lead the way in not just bridging the gap but in creating a new way of being?”

Much has been written about leadership. At its core authentic leadership requires a visionary perspective of unchartered waters. And not just how the future may look but, more particularly, how to engage diverse perspectives in sharing a unified vision. Many stakeholders may not see what you can see and worse still people (and systems) resist change. Change efforts require a cause and a champion. Changing deeply ingrained beliefs doesn’t necessarily come with a long lead time if there is a compelling reason why.

Your opportunity to lead successful transformational change does require an understanding of the forces at play, including resistance, and your dexterity in communicating the compelling case for change. A compelling case is not restoration of the dualistic status quo but in creating a new reality born out of (re)unification. 

by Dennis Roberts


Why ask why? 


by Dennis Roberts

For quite some time in my client engagements I refrained from asking the WHY? questions. To me they seemed to trigger justification and judgement. For many us our basic emotional drive is to please others. In our pursuit of pleasing others, to win their favour, or our search to feel valued, accepted and even loved, we create a vacuous hole that we desperately seek to fill from the outside.

Often all it takes is a subtle inflection in your tone of voice to convert a sincere expression of interest into probing cross-examination. Why open yourself to justification and judgement?

These days I find wholesome value in asking the deeper question of WHY? Rather than being a Spanish Inquisition triggering justification and judgement I use it to explore the deeper pool of meaning which is the gateway to a purposeful life. WHY? questions lead to an exploration of values, raison d’etre, purpose and meaning.  

Whether it be an entrepreneur trying to convert a creative idea into steady cashflow, or a performing artist finding voice and an outlet for artistic self-expression, or a corporate employee searching for a job role to ignite their vocational passion. The WHY? question asked from a place of adventure, intrigue and wonderment engenders a very different response and, I hasten to add, a response that comes forth from the heart. The heart is the dominion of magic. Our search for purpose and meaning in our lives is answered by our connection to heart and spirit. The two realms being inextricably linked.

The more you FEEL your answer, or INTUIT your answer, the closer you are to source, your source. Often the path to discovering what you seek is triggered by posing a different, more compelling question – the exploration of WHY?

There has been much written about positive psychology, values based organisations and authentic leadership. In every instance the key to igniting the passion and creative juices of your staff and your enterprise start with this quest to explore the pool of deeper meaning and entrepreneurial spirit that rumbles within each of us.

It is a conversation just yearning to be had - if you dare.

by Dennis Roberts

by Dennis Roberts

I don’t know about you but I’ve been associated with over a dozen coaching and mentoring groups over the past ten years and they all have a different perspective and self-interest about the two modalities. What gets even more confusing is the fusion of different modalities from what I view as peripheral fields as they attempt to cash in on the hype that is coaching.

So, if I’m confused then I’m guessing it is not only confusing to you, the user, but also that this confusion may serve as a deterrent to you choosing the right coach or mentor for you.

Coaching, mentoring and consulting

Here is a quick distinction. A mentor is someone you learn FROM. A coach is someone you learn WITH, and a consultant well, for the most part a consultant’s gig is to deliver you the results that you might otherwise learn from either coach or mentor. The consultant is engaged to “do the do.”

“A mentor is someone you learn FROM.
A coach is someone you learn WITH.”

The mentor is often described as someone who has “been there, done that” whereas a coach’s main mission is to facilitate your own self-discovery. A coach will ask more than they answer.

The key to effective mentoring is the mentor’s ability to transfer his knowledge, wisdom and insight such that his lessons benefit the mentee. “I’ve been there, done that” is only useful to the extent that it relates to the mentee’s lesson of the day.

I’ll illustrate the differences in coaching, mentoring and consulting with a brief conversation/ case study.

Client asks “My sales are down, I’ve just lost a key account and the leads from my pipeline have slowed. What should I do?”

COACH answers: “What do you think you should do? What have you done previously in a similar situation?”

MENTOR answers: “Well, once my business took a hit when our industry was deregulated. What worked for me is that we compiled a database of past clients and began a campaign designed to reconnect with them offering an inducement to re-engage with us. Would something like that work for you?”

CONSULTANT answers: “Let’s do a quick diagnostic check of your current situation, identify where the gaps are and come up with a proposal to address your issues. If our proposal meets with your approval and your budget then we could start work within four weeks.”

There are basic three paths to implementing change:

·         Do It Yourself (DIY),

·         Done With You (DWY) like a coach or mentor, or

·         Done For You (DFY) by a consultant.

There is a fourth option, of course, and that is the Do Nothing option. Don’t ring me for that one!

At the outset of any engagement be sure to ask, “Who will do the work?”

When should I choose a coach v mentor?

There are some urban myths about mentoring that need to be dispelled. The major one is “You need to have grey hair to be a mentor.” Bollocks! The key to being a successful mentor is your ability to impart your knowledge, wisdom and experience to the mentee. My lesson is not your lesson. My story is just a metaphor, and as the mentee, you will find your own truth in my story. This is more an art than science.

“My lesson is not your lesson.”

Here are five situations where I recommend you seek a MENTOR rather than a coach.

1.       Starting a Business – are you searching for a map of territory trodden previously by another (Mentor) or is your journey into completely uncharted territory where a compass would serve you (Coach).
If your business/ leadership skills are lacking then by engaging a Mentor you can fast track your learning providing there are close parallels between your lesson and your Mentor’s knowledge, skills or experience.
80% of businesses fail in the first year. This is science. This is fact. There is a map of this territory and your Mentor may have it.

2.       Economic recession – this is an economic cycle, and cycles do what cycles do, ie they repeat.  A Mentor with past experience of economic cycles and how to ride them out, take corrective action, cut costs, lay off staff, down size, eliminate non-core activities, refinance your business, etc is invaluable. 
There are two big caveats to these comments and they are China and the internet. These two powerhouse influences may mean that we need a compass not a map. Keep that in mind. If you experienced difficulties during the tech wreck, global financial crisis (GFC), or the stock market crash of the 1980’s, there are wise heads who have navigated their way out of similar cycles. Until recently many young Australian entrepreneurs had not seen heavy rain let alone an economic recession.

3.       Crisis recovery – is the mantra “been there, done that” likely to give you comfort and afford you a solution to your challenge. If someone else’s lesson has parallels for you, and your lesson, then choose a Mentor. You may need to draw a long bow to find the parallels but it’s not the facts that are relevant but more the mental attitude, resilience, temperament or even simply an objective opinion. I used to love listening to my Grandfather’s stories of a bygone era. It tapped my creative mind, let lose my imagination and opened my heart to empathy.

4.       Merger & Acquisition – there are two ways to grow a business, either organically or by acquisition. M&A is such a highly technical field that calling upon specialist help is highly desirable. There is a fair chance you will have a team of professional advisors working on the deal but a Mentor can offer you comfort in ways that professional advisors may not.

5.       The After Life – when you exit a long term business, career or relationship your whole world gets turned upside down. Some of life events are best shared with someone that doesn’t just have empathy but shares that special bond, that kinship, you won’t find in other relationships. A Mentor is not a hard arse but will, where occasion warrants, both support and challenge you. The art is finding the delicate balance between the two roles and reading what you need at any given moment.

Here are five situations where I recommend you seek a COACH rather than a mentor.

1.       Greenfields territory – The analogy of the map and the compass I used earlier is a great distinction. When you are entering completely unchartered territory the questions you ask may be more inductive than deductive. A Coach can facilitate your self-discovery, this exploration of the brave new world.

2.       The deeper question of WHY? – Many people get stuck with HOW TO questions. Yet if you explore your raison d‘etre much of the detail becomes evident. A Coach may draw you into a deeper dialogue with self. Once you answer the question, “WHY do you do what you do?” you have a context to answer all other questions. You are no longer operating in a vacuum but in a larger hologram where everything is inter-connected. It is an extremely powerful to place from which to play life.

3.       Use of diagnostic tools – Coaches have access to a wide range of diagnostic tools from personality profiles, leadership inventory, behavioural type indicators, entrepreneurial profiles, communication style and many Business Coaches have access to a wide array of business diagnostic tools and indicators also. Make sure you know the scope of your coach. Many coaches are trained from schools of psychology with little or no business acumen.

4.       Business Acumen – if you are looking for a Business Coach then know this - the quality of your/their questions will determine the quality of your (business) life. Assess the level of business acumen your coach/ mentor possesses regardless of whether they have “been there, done that.” Business is a game. It has its rules, language, success measures, strategies, formulas, structures and whether Coach or Mentor your guide must know the game, how it is played and how you can win.

5.       Accountability – in a world of procrastinators the principal benefit of a Coach is accountability. You can have the best laid plans, greatest intent, all of the wisdom of Solomon but if you don’t implement then it amounts to nought.

There you have it. This is one man’s opinion and I am sure you will find many others. When you do get divergent opinion, do yourself a favour, and ask does the critic have a vested opinion, and if so, what is it?

I hope you enjoyed the article. Please check out other blogs/ articles I have written and feel free to post your comments and queries and if there is something I can help you with drop me a line. 

by Dennis Roberts

by Dennis Roberts

“… spiritually the female will now have her turn to lead mankind into the New Light. And eventually, this female spiritual light will permeate the entire range of human experience from female leaders in business and religion to female leaders of state ... this female light will become so strong as to become obvious to all who live on this dear planet and will continue to grow for thousands of years.”

“The Serpent of Light” by Drunvalo Melchizedek

Is this uprising, women as a gender, or femininity as energy? If the former, then those women who have won positions of power by amplifying their masculine will continue the masculine archetypal game. If, on the other hand, the essence of this is the rise of the feminine energy then that has the potential to change how the game of business is played, and to change the very game itself. And that is what I am exploring.

The ancient Chinese viewed things in relationship with nature and the environment, everything studied formed part of a holistic perspective. No single element existed in isolation. There was perfect symmetry in the dualistic nature of night and day, water and fire, active and passive, masculine and feminine.

Taoist theory of yin and yang helped explain all things and their inter-relationships. All things had yin and yang properties. Yang is associated with outward movement, active, projection, brightness, excitement. Yin is associated with inward, rest, darkness, passive, nourishment.


How is business played under the masculine archetype of leadership?

Masculine (Yang) energy plays out in business as a bias for action, making things happen, setting goals, measuring results, hitting targets. Metaphors of war abound in both business and sport. Competition is fierce, targets are hit, takeovers are hostile, companies are taken over, market share is won/lost, customers are targeted, plans are executed, patches are carved up, products are launched, staff are boned, people are fired.

Sun Tzu’s classic, “The Art of War”, widely linked competitive theory with ancient Chinese military strategy. Some suggest such military, authoritarian styles of leadership have a time and a place, especially during times of crisis and war. Perhaps so.

The natural state of play is for masculine and feminine energies to co-exist in equilibrium. What Drunvalo was alluding to was the rising up of feminine energy to restore the equilibrium from hundreds of years of dominant masculine energy.

Leading business mind, Warren Bennis writes, “We are facing unprecedented times of growing complexity, globalisation and rapid change, the likes of which we have not seen before ... what is needed is not a map, but a compass for this is unchartered territory.”

Furthermore, Heifetz suggests that amid such flux and uncertainty one of the qualities needed in leadership is an ability to “live in the disequilibrium.” If masculine (Yang) energy is about DOing then feminine (Yin) energy is about BEing. Our leaders need to embrace more of this Yin energy, remaining present in the disequilibrium, and seeking out and listening intently to the diverse opinion in our ranks. The key is to resist trying to solve the problem and allow creative tension to bring resolution of its own accord. It may appear counter intuitive but as Einstein said, “You can’t solve a problem with the same level of thinking that created it” and most definitely we need different ways of operating to deal with these new challenges.

The Rise of the Feminine – what it means for business and leadership

If “The Art of War” was the masculine archetypal guide to strategy then “Blue Ocean Strategy” now illustrates how The Rise of the Feminine has permeated business schools. Rather than using metaphors of war, the discussion centres around charting fresh territory, creating uncluttered niche markets, inventing and reinventing brands, strategies and ideas, collaborating rather than competing, seeking synergies, delivering superior customer value, and engaging and empowering employees in meaningful work in which their creative minds find stimulation.

The liberation of creative right brain thinking is much needed, even in a legal and regulatory environment where compliance is more the order of the day than creativity. Compliance activities are prime fodder for automation and/or outsourcing. The real value add of a professional services firm is around creative thinking.

Technological advances and the increased globalisation it facilitates means that decisions need to be made in real time. Heifetz draws a distinction between authority and leadership stating that leadership is an improvisational art. It is a verb, not a noun. Warren Bennis chimes in to suggest “many CEO’s are bosses not leaders.” The act of leadership can and does occur at grass roots levels.

A major challenge in the professional services environment is how effectively you encourage risk taking and mistake making. Is it something you discourage, merely tolerate or actively encourage. Businesses are de-risked but employees must take calculated risks and have supporting organisational frameworks that encourage then to do so.

Traditional patriarchal models of leadership serve to reinforce the power base of the authority figures that created them. Leadership is not something that can be delegated. Authority is delegated but leadership is demonstrated by anyone with a heartfelt conviction in a cause. What the model needs is less authority and more people empowered to lead. It is not about delegation, it is about empowerment.

The game is changing, how to get with the program?

Here’s a quick snapshot of how you can change your firm to embrace The Rise of the Feminine:

What got you here, won’t get you there 

Marshall Goldsmith suggests that the higher up the corporate ladder you rise the more performance issues and developmental opportunities are behavioural. And for the ever busy professional it’s not simply a question of choosing what to do but moreso a question of what to STOP doing. The Rise of Feminine evokes a different more expansive way of thinking creatively. It is less about efficiency and more about effectiveness. It requires a different level of thinking to flourish in the new game. Stop, pause and reflect about behaviours such as winning too much, replaying past victories (over and over), not listening, seeing the glass half empty, finding the objection first, withholding information or opinion.
Permission to fail 

In a professional services environment we are not used to failure, and certainly not used to it being encouraged let alone condoned. Like them or not, issues around approval seeking are common within professionals services. There is no stigma, we are all human and we all feel pain. It is just that our business and leaders seldom acknowledge our humaness. Create little risk taking experiments where staff can take managed risks. It is common in the creative powerhouses of Apple and Google but rare in professional services. If you operate with a compliance mindset then technology and outsourcing will pass you by.

Resistance to change 

People don’t resist change per se, they resist loss. When change involves real or perceived loss, people will hold onto what they have and resist change. The key to leadership is to assess what kinds of loss are at stake from life and loved ones to jobs, wealth, status, relevance, community, loyalty, identity and competence. Assess, manage and provide a context for any loss and help move your people through the losses to a new place.

I have briefly touched on some of the ways The Rise of the Feminine affects business and leadership today. This feminine energy is pulling people together, being comfortable not having all the answers, not rushing to closure, listening empathetically to many and varied diverse opinions, generating creative ideas, and nurturing the capacity to take collective responsibility to solve problems and not operate in silos.

In this article we explored how The Rise of the Feminine has changed how business is being led. In our next instalment we take a quantum leap forward and explore how The Rise of the Feminine is changing the very game of business itself in The Legacy of the Feminine

by Dennis Roberts