True freedom to act is crucial to authentic leadership, and yet it depends on a personal clarity about our beliefs and values, and how we relate to those aspects of life that can never be known or seen.
In a previous blog (Minor Questions of Life: Leadership coaching and existential psychology), I posted quite a lengthy item about existentialism and why it is so important in the process of leadership development.
Of all the modern philosophical approaches, existentialists most clearly emphasize action, freedom, and decision as being fundamental to human behaviour. They look at where people find meaning and argue that we actually make decisions based on what has meaning to us rather than what is rational. This is a theme that I find myself returning to time-and-time again with my clients as we explore their ability to draw ‘legitimately’ on their intuition in their business decisions rather than the common tendency to fit post-decision rationalisations unconsciously. Only when they can distinguish between the two, and have a clear sense of their own beliefs can they hope to be the authentic leader that we now believe is so important.
As I said in my ‘existential’ post, to many existentialists, the most fundamental question to address is our personal relationship to, or understanding of, God and God’s role in society.
Some of you may know that rather than give out copies of Powerpoint slides after talks, I prefer to provide people with a clearer ‘guide’. One of the talks in my portfolio is called; “Midlife: what crisis?” and you can find the guide based on it through my speaking page, or directly here.
In the talk (and guide), I make the point that one trigger to the midlife crisis is the death of a close friend or relative. This brush with death makes us aware of our own mortality, our limitations, and inability to control the world around us. It is a critical time to explore our beliefs and values as, done sensitively, we can emerge better focused and better able than we were before.
All this explanation is aimed at preparing the ground for a viewing recommendation. The internet is a wonderfully rich resource although you do sometimes have to sift through a lot of rubbish to find the true gems. Well I’ve found one for any of you who are interested in taking your exploration one step further. If you follow this link (http://www.teachers.tv/video/23961/dodownload/wmv/500k/A2446001.wmv), you’ll find a roughly 60 minute long documentary, narrated by Dawn French, entitled “Chasing God“. It isn’t ‘heavy’, nor is it all theory. The imagery is very good, and the interviews with scientists, spiritual leaders, atheists and agnostics are excellent. Pull up a chair, pick up a cup of tea, and do some mind-expanding watching. It looks at these questions, and offers some very creative ways of addressing them.
PLUG: As ever, if there’s anything in here that interests you, do remember that this is bread and butter to my leadership development work – you’re welcome to get in touch and arrange a meeting!