Article: Five pillars of inspired leadership to overcome challenges


Five pillars of inspired leadership to overcome challenges

Mindfulness, compassion, ethics, diversity and sustainability are the five pillars that form the fundations for inspired leadership

Given the current quality of leaders with power in different spheres of life, we must act with speed and purpose


The planet is in grave danger. Ecological disasters, economic crises, terrorism, the increasing gap between the rich and the poor - are all signs of this man made catastrophe. We cannot solve these complex problems by the existing ways of doing and managing. We have to take responsibility by leading in ‘whole systems’ ways. We cannot make dangerous tradeoffs by stimulating greater consumption to solve economic recession; by engaging in wars to bring about peace; by creating new cities to improve living standards of the rural poor; by reducing ‘emissions’ to impact global warming etc. We need to dig deep into the reservoirs of ancient wisdom to look at ow our ancestors lived in harmony with Mother Nature and ask new questions that make us behave like one global family which raises our ‘consciousness’.

Mindfulness to raise ‘self awareness’ is the first step. Compassion for those who are suffering is the next. Ethics which make us arrive at the ‘right’ choices will give us the questions that we need to address. Leveraging our uniqueness and gifts - Diversity will enable us to find the right answers. Using means that balance the needs of ‘today’ with
‘tomorrow’ will ensure that we do not rob our future generations of an eco-system that is in balance - Sustainability.

These five pillars of ‘Inspired’ leadership have the power to overcome the unprecedented challenges of our times. Given the current quality of leaders with power in different spheres of life, we must act with speed and purpose. There is no other alternative. Our future generations will not forgive us unless we act ‘now’.

It is with this context that the School of Inspired Leadership - SOIL has been founded. It is a Business School that is a bold new experiment in higher education. Its entire curriculum is designed to build a new generation of leaders that have the character inspired by the five pillars of inspired leadership, the competence of ‘whole systems’ thinking and the ‘enthusiasm’ to make a difference.

It gives us great joy to announce our first conference on Inspired Leadership. This will bring together a microcosm of the planet’s leaders in business, government, ‘Not for Profit’, Education, performing arts etc. It will begin on 29th January 2010 and end on Martyr’s day - the 30th of January - the day Gandhi sacrificed his life in service of the ideals of inspired leadership. We have a carefully designed process that will enable us to introspect deeply, convene in ways that builds synergy and move us to take responsibility.

We inaugurate the conference through an opening circle where we offer a prayer. The circle will be followed by a plenary gathering that will feature Leaders with a difference. The group will then break into two concurrent Sessions – Open Spaces facilitated by Anne Stadler and the workshop by Peter Block.

The Open Space process of conversations is a powerful technique to engage the hearts and minds of all present. All participants meet in a circle to start the process and share one by one what attracted them to the event. They write a topic or a question that matters most to them on a flip chart, share it within the circle and post it on the wall designated for this purpose. After all those who wish to share their themes stop speaking, all participants go and stand next to the wall and discuss topics which can be combined.

Once the topics are narrowed down, people sign up for these groups and each group then starts its discussion on the topics at the designated space. People (except the convener of each topic) are free to go from one group to the other. At the end of each day, there is a closing circle in which each group shares the insights that they generated through their deliberations.

Each group also posts the essence of their conversations on the Conference Bulletin Board and in cyberspace with others who are interested. There are no speeches and people are not divided into speakers and participants; ‘Conveners’ simply facilitate dialogue. Anne will facilitate a round of ‘Open Space’ on each day, to raise our ‘Consciousness’ and inspire us to take responsibility. Anne Stadler works with people and groups who seek to open space for the emergence of spirited leadership and appropriate forms for their collective activity. She is one of the Founders’ of Spirited Work, a learning community of practice which meets seasonally on Whidbey Island, Washington (, and the Open Space Institute of the United States. She is a fluent practitioner of OST and Appreciative Inquiry, as well as other forms which open space for practical co-creative activity.

Peter Block is an author, consultant and citizen of Cincinnati, Ohio. His work is about empowerment, stewardship, chosen accountability, and the reconciliation of community. He received a Masters Degree in Industrial Administration from Yale University in 1963; he performed his undergraduate work at the University of Kansas. Peter’s work has progressively gone deeper and further. The first part of his life helped the consulting industry to develop competence in ‘flawless consulting’- a way of adding value as a change agent. The next part of his life ushered new thought on ‘empowerment’ and ‘stewardship’- models of leadership that taught ‘revolution to the ruling class’ to make organizations full of meaning. In the last decade, Peter’s attention has gone to understanding the deeper meaning of ‘community’ in service of the planet.

Peter has been coming to India at regular intervals to learn from our traditions and wisdom and help us to connect to our own greatness in unique ways. His provocative and yet loving style has made many leaders ask new questions that have made a big difference to the lives of many leaders and organizations.

He will focus on:
• What are the new conversations that we need to have to build in ourselves the character, competence and the enthusiasm of inspired leadership?
• How can we channel our own gifts to build organizations of
• What can be done to take responsibility now?

This is a unique experience with a master facilitator that is meant for those who truly wish to make a difference and take this work to the next level.


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Topics: Leadership, #Culture, Learning & Development, #BestPractices

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