Mini Review of The Soul of a Leader by Margaret Benefiel
Unfortunately, there are few others who have made this niche their own. That is of course until you've stumbled onto the work of Margaret Benefiel.
Benefiel's first book, Soul at Work: Spiritual Leadership In Organizations, was an insightful look at the qualities that make organizations about more than just the bottom line. In the follow up, The Soul of a Leader: Finding Your Path to Success and Fulfillment, (Crossroad Publishing, 2008) Benefiel captures a similar spirit but hones in on the role of the persons who move the organization forward.
The author's point is crucial before one can even look at the mechanics, for lack of a better word, of soulful leadership. "The past decade has witnessed scandal after scandal: in business, in nonprofits, in religious institutions. This world of scandals desperately needs leaders with soul." To the degree that a leader can activate the spiritual component of his/her leadership, the results will be dramatically positive.
Benefiel articulates several key leanings for the soulful leader to be attentive to, including Following the Heart, Finding Partners, Daring to Dream, and Keeping Mission at the Fore. I found her final chapter, "Finding Spiritual Guidance" to be particularly on target as she deals with the ancient benefit of spiritual direction.
I think that one of the most enduring themes of the book is the primacy of keeping work human in whatever organization one finds himself. When we just see our labor as a means to an end, we can lose sight of those with whom we serve. As Benefiel states, "Every human being feels overworked and underappreciated at times. Likewise, everyone, in the press of busyness and stress, forgets to thank those whose work makes theirs possible."
I recommend that you pick up a copy of Margaret Benefiel's newest book and while you're at it, check out the many helpful articles available on her website. Here's to soulful leadership in your life as well...