Introduction to Leadership Nirvana

Introduction to Leadership Nirvana

For most of my life I assumed that nirvana was a state of ultimate enlightenment and maybe even ecstasy in some form. This, I guessed, was reached through long-term, dedicated mediation, and probably a lot of “clean living.” Only in the past few years did I discover I was mainly wrong. (I readily admit that I am not a scholar of Eastern anything—and the interpretations here are my own.)

Nirvana is actually about letting go of suffering. Reaching nirvana is sometimes described as “extinguishing the fire;” the fire of suffering. Elements of suffering include greed (attachment), sensuality (desire), aversion, hate, ignorance, delusion and more. Basically, anything that is coveted or desired, including wanting to be other than your true Self.

I submit that successful leadership and nirvana have a lot in common. The suffering of leaders includes a lot of “fires.” Fear, desire, doubt, uncertainty, second-guessing, and plenty of ignorance and delusion. Suffering to be “better” or “different” than they are. I can report from my own experience that leaders spend a lot of time with the fire of worry (and occasional mild bouts of insanity) about what will be lost if they are exposed as having such flaws.

Imagine the enormous positive energy that could be unlocked if leaders could move toward letting go of their suffering. What if negative actions and the negative emotions that motivate them—could be destroyed or at least minimized?

We may have reached a time when tending to and revealing a leader’s Self can be viewed and felt as a positive; for the leader, the team members, the investors and other constituents. The rising chorus of “we want greater humanity in leadership” has led to trending valuable leadership traits such as empathy, transparency, authenticity, equanimity and collaboration.

What does a leader have to do to make this happen?

It’s about extinguishing the flames that hide their humanness. It is about letting go of the suffering that was the centerpiece of old-school leadership: protecting the leader’s (almost always false) persona at all costs. Be stern, stoic, directive, remote, emotionless, and treat team members like fungible assets.

The leader suffered, the team members suffered, and performance suffered.

This is a brief introduction to a subject deep and wide but let me leave you with these questions to consider.

What if a leader could find the unique Self inside them that has no need to posture, or accept fear, or want to be someone else?

What if a leader could choose to stop suffering?

~William Keiper, co-author with Steve Chandler of The Leader and The Coach: The Art of Humanity in Leadership

#leadership #leadershipcoaching #businesscoach #coachingleaders #leadershipdevelopment #executivecoaching #leaderascoach


The Leader & The Coach by Steve Chandler & Will Keiper
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