Demystifying Leadership of Being Vs. Doing

Abut the Author: Vinit runs Tresonance Consulting and helps organizations in culture transformation; leadership development and vision & strategy deployment

During my stint as the Head of Strategic HR at Airtel, I dived deeper into the world of leadership behavioural competencies with definitions and behavioural traits that anchor these competencies. One such competency was empowering and developing people and one of the behavioural traits was that the leader ‘facilitates development plans of his team members and guides to fulfilment’. I also trained many people in ‘empowering, developing and valuing people’ and how to be an effective coach to one’s team members. I was always surprised that, despite the best knowledge and tools being provided, the adherence to guidelines like building situational evidence diaries to assess competencies using data or to have meaningful and timely developmental dialogues was fairly pathetic.

After pursuing a vision of developing consciousness centred leadership and diving deeper into this subject, a different model began to take shape. Some of the facilitators had formed a community called Chittasangha at around that time and we spent over 6 months diving deeper into a model of leadership that gave us the clues. We decided to aptly call it the deep dive model of leadership. The model focuses on the aspects of being that are the subject of many a conversation today and describes the HOW of developing this being as distinct from developing the doing ‘skills’ and ‘knowledge’.

In its essence, the model said that, at the deepest level of our being, we have a consciousness, a oneness or simply pure presence. From this deepest level arise states of being which is what we access and build certain capacities in ourselves.

Deep Dive Leadership Model

To clarify, state of being is what the leader is. They represent universal domains of energy that human beings can access and operate from. The capacities represent what the leader has. These may best be described as elements of our character or Swabhav, created out of a bundle of our values and beliefs and our potentiality for action. Capacities can be developed and enhanced but states of being are universal and merely represent different doorways of access to the universal consciousness or oneness or pure presence. By the same definition, competencies represent what a leader does. These are observable behaviors that manifest in action and can be corrected or improved.

Competencies simply represent above the iceberg behaviors and actions that manifest in the outer world. Manipulating competencies has a limited benefit and rarely creates a sustainable change unless work on them has suddenly triggered a deeper access to some states of being and has given the individual that ‘extra charge’ for his ‘capacitor’ or capacity.

To take the above example ahead, the competency of empowering and developing others requires the ‘capacity’ of Empathy which is developed in an individual if he has routine access to the ‘state of being’ of Love.

We defined 7 such combinations of states of being and capacities and have been experimenting with this model in our work but I will go into that detail here.

I wish to focus on the work needed to access states of being and develop capacities that is central to the work of developing sustainable competencies. I call this the work of developing inner leadership.

So, for example, a practice of gratitude develops the capacity of empathy. Multiple practices like tithing, serving without seeking and gratitude together help access the state of being of love. When this happens, coupled with practices of centering that clean and develop of our channels of access, THEN Empathy and Compassion truly develop and the individual will automatically become a raving fan of the development of his team members. In such a situation skills like how to have appreciatve performance dialogues or how to build robust development plans would truly raise the bar of the individual’s competency. Till this happens, it will remain at best a short term stimulus and mostly a wasted effort on the part of HR and organizations.

Of late, more and more focus is being given to this field under different names. I recently read ‘Search Inside Yourself’ by Chade-Men-Tang, a senior Google excutive which was brilliant because it encapsulated the practices of developing capacity and accessing states of being without giving this label. See his TED video or a slightly longer but compelling 54 min video  where he discusses the contents of his book in greater detail.

I am truly delighted that, with such beautifully packaged material coming from the stable of a reputed company like Google, there is a higher chance of adoption by the wider world.

You will be served well by diving deeper into this subject for yourself and your organization.

Vinit Taneja

Tresonance Consulting

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