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What Kind of Leadership Will Bridge the Divide?

There are many books on leadership and the gurudom of leadership is full of pundits, and yet, we find ourselves in probably the most divided and polarized nation here in the United States and in many places in the world. As we go to into the election year in 2020, what kind of a leader can help bridge the divide we find ourselves in at home and around the globe?
Who are your favorite leaders? What are your favorite books on leadership? Here are some of my favorite books and media on the topic:
The Understanding and Practice of Servant Leadership by Larry C. Spearsof the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, wherein he writes:
“Servant-leadership deals with the reality of power in everyday life—its legitimacy, the ethical restraints upon it and the beneficial results that can be attained through the appropriate use of power.”
This book also adheres to a set of 10 characteristics of the servant-leader that I view as being of critical importance. The following characteristics are central to the development of servant-leaders: Listening, Empathy, Healing, Awareness, Persuasion, Conceptualization, Foresight, Stewardship, Commitment and Building Community.
I also love the seminal work done by Angela Lee Duckworth where she researched a plethora of students and professionals to see what attributes will help them succeed. Angela Lee Duckworth is a renowned psychologist and studied students, teachers, military, corporate leaders, and others to determine what qualities predict successful leaders. See her TEDtalk here.
Interesting that in none of the cases was the defining factor IQ – even though most institutions of higher learning use this measure as a predictor of success. “Grit” which she describes as the power of passion and perseverance was at the top of the list. She explains that those that succeed possess a growth mindset and look to the long term. Each failure is a stepping stool to the next step and that success is not a sprint but a marathon. With passion, perseverance, and a growth mindset, leaders often achieve the worthy goals they set for themselves.
Another one of my favorites is the internationally best-known book Good to Great by James C. Collins. He attributes and discusses leaders that are:
a) Humble but driven to do what’s best for the company;
b) Have the ability to get the right people on the team;
(c) Confront the brutal truth of the situation, yet at the same time, never give up hope;
(d) Three overlapping circles: What lights your fire (“passion”)? What could you be best in the world at (“best at”)? What makes you money? (“driving resource”);
(e) Culture of Discipline and;
(f) The additive effect of many small initiatives; they act on each other like compound interest.
 Another great read is Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis & Annie McKee. This is the book that established “emotional intelligence” in the business lexicon—and made it a necessary skill for leaders. Managers and professionals across the globe have embraced Primal Leadership, affirming the importance of emotionally intelligent leadership. Its influence has also reached well beyond the business world: the book and its ideas are now used routinely in universities, business and medical schools, and professional training programs, and by a growing legion of professional coaches.
 A new and timely book (that I helped with) by my dear friend Boris Diekmannwill become available on Amazon on the 9th of September: “Chief Energy Officer – Universal Principles to Nurture a Spirit of Performance.” I find it more than a book; it truly is an experience. It asks an essential question: How would you lead if you considered yourself to be the Chief Energy Officer of your organization or
As Chief Energy Officer our guiding question becomes: How else could I nurture positive human energy, transform negative energy, and then direct that human energy towards a shared purpose? This, I believe, is the very heart of leadership. It is less a question we need to find a definite answer to, yet one to be guided by – every day, one conversation at a time. It is a stance.” Unsurprisingly, Boris also points to forgiveness (a concept dear to my heart) as an essential catalyst to restoring healthy energy, and hence a core capacity of authentic Chief Energy Officers.
Boris (Connect with and follow his linked in here) says, “human energy goes straight to the bottom line.” I agree. And I would add that it goes to the bottom line of our companies and that of our families, our societies, and our planet.
Last but not the least – I have just completed the manuscript of my 5th book Leadership for the Greater Good – A Guide for Truth to Power Champions –stay tuned as the book goes through the arduous process of publishing.  I have dedicated this book to my Mum who passed in April 2017. She was a strong spiritual leader, an awesome mother and indeed I attribute to her the kind of person I am today. She was a monumental influence in my life, and I miss her sorely. My rock!
All the above books are a good read as we challenge our perception about the kind of leaders we need today on all levels. The leaders of tomorrow will need to shift us from the poisonous separation of different tribes into an inclusive society that respects all cultures, religions, races, nationalities, gender and all the other isms. My sense is that the new leaders will be able to bridge the divide and polarization we find ourselves caught in will also possess super competency in creating effective, viable and affordable solutions to the many malaises that exist in our communities.
In addition, they will also need to be stalwart examples in espousing and role modeling strong moral, ethical and spiritual values. The practice of the quintessential spiritual values of accountability, empathy, compassion, forgiveness, and love will be the essentials attributes to heal the divide and create a world that works for everyone.
Peace and many blessings,
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Azim Khamisa

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