Dr. John Townsend’s new book Leadership Beyond Reason is the perfect take-along for a mini-retreat. If you are in the trenches of leadership, you may feel that you don’t have time to set aside a day or weekend for introspection. You may be more concerned about results than you are about relationships, more comfortable with strategizing than reflecting. Even if your mini-retreat consists of 15 minute bursts of quiet reading across two weeks, you will not regret the time spent with this book.
Townsend asserts that paying attention to the subjective world of values, emotions, and relationships can empower a leader, giving greater success and facilitating personal transformation. Logic, rationality, and fact-gathering are important but leaders often focus on these to the exclusion of the subjective world. Yet these areas “beyond reason” can have a profound effect on your leadership. On the other hand, ignoring these areas can be dangerous for you because they affect your ability to understand and communicate with people.
Each chapter in this book includes stories from Townsend’s experiences with leaders and organizations. As a clinical psychologist, he has a keen understanding of human behavior and motivation. His insightful observations are memorable and his suggestions for change are practical.
Here’s a sneak preview of issues you will consider as you read this book:
Values. “It is important to make sure your values are wholehearted — that is, from the core of who you are.” Values identification and clarification is crucial for both individuals and organizations. However, until you live out your values, they will not be useful to you. Many times, leaders give lip service to one set of values, while their actions display different ones.
Townsend encourages leaders to examine the internal and external sources of values. Does your behavior reflect your values? If not, what values are you operating under?
Thoughts. Although everyone has a unique way of processing thoughts, most tend toward linear or non-linear thinking. Both styles are useful to your organization. Developing the ability to think in different ways will add a new dimension to your leadership.
“Even if you enjoy pure thought, you need to consider your impact on people because you matter to them.” Leaders need to consider the effects of their thoughts on the people in their lives. Sharing your thoughts, ideas, visions, and solutions with others will engage them and create a vital connection.
Emotions. Townsend discusses both positive and negative emotions and their function as a signal to us to address issues in our lives. He calls emotions “the stepchild of leadership” because leaders often shun their emotions. Staying connected to emotions is important, though, because once we identify the source of these emotions, we can take action to resolve the situations that proceeded them.
Passion. “Passion develops when we are doing what we are designed to do.” Passion makes a leader’s direction clear. If you are unsure of your passion, this section will help you identify your area of passion and remove the obstacles that may be hindering you in following it.
Relationships. “The better you understand and use your relational world in leadership, the better your decisions, plans, and vision should operate.” Since leadership is about influencing people, understanding and improving your relational abilities will result in enhanced leadership skills. This chapter introduces the idea of relational images, mental pictures of significant people that can be an important tool for leaders. People who have developed healthy relational images also have the ability to build strong relationships with others. Townsend presents ways to use motivation and challenge in leading others to greater productivity. He also stresses the importance of empathy and the ability to see yourself as separate from the people you are leading.
Transformation. “Transformation is truly leadership beyond reason, for it requires much more than your thought process and your intelligence. It literally requires your entire being, energies, and life.” Lasting personal growth and change is not something that can be accomplished during a weekend retreat. It is a journey that takes takes time and, as Townsend notes, there is no microwave system to speed up the process.
Reading this book and applying it to your life could jump-start the process of growth in your life as a leader.
This post was originally published at Mountain State University Leadertalk and is republished here with permission.