Leading The Whole Person

A former neighbor had a PhD in engineering. He was fond of saying, "my degree makes me an expert of a small thing that is a part of a much bigger thing." To fully understand the nuance of complex issues we often will break it into smaller pieces. The concept is, if we understand the parts, we can eventually understand the whole.

There is much wisdom in this approach and some deception because the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. Human beings are far more than the assembly of flesh, bone and blood. In fact, the greater the complexity of an organism the more difficult it is to understand the whole by examining the parts. If this is true, why do many organizations function like their employees are machines?

Henry Ford once said, "Why do I have to hire the whole person when all I need are their hands?" Imagine a factory floor with nothing but disembodied hands. Yes, Mr. Ford you do need the whole body and the whole person.

Jim Loehr, author of the The Corporate Athlete is a thought leader in the arena of how we must lead the entire being. He wrote, "The problem with most approaches, we believe, is that they deal with people only from the neck up, connecting high performance primarily with cognitive capacity. In recent years there has been a growing focus on the relationship between emotional intelligence and high performance. A few theorists have addressed the spiritual dimension-how deeper values and a sense of purpose influence performance. Almost no one has paid any attention to the role played by physical capacities. A successful approach to sustained high performance, we have found, must pull together all of these elements and consider the person as a whole."

In our work with leaders we have found the highest level of success by helping them practice a higher level of self-leadership. Our five areas of discipline for self-leadership are designed to increase productivity and overall performance by addressing the whole person.

Controlling time is a very practical expression of balancing both pro-active and reactive nature of leadership. Time is the commodity where we assign the value of priorities and attempt to have our whole being at the right place at the right time doing the right thing.

Fueling energy recognizes that we come to the task of leadership as physical beings. Are we able to be engaged in the challenge at hand when we have made ourselves available? Fueling our energy is about rest, recovery, exercise and hydration.

Temper emotions is about balancing the requirement of passion with appropriate level of dispassion so we can be leaders of sound judgment.

Choosing words allows leaders to employ the most common tool in their arsenal in a way that advances your objectives and not create little landmines that can explode at inappropriate times.

Exercise power ensures that a leader is in fact leading. Nothing can create an organization holding pattern more than a leader that is reluctant to know where the power lies, and how to execute the power of tough decisions.