Leading Beyond the Ego: A book review by Bob Morris

Leading Beyond the Ego: How to Become a Transpersonal Leader
John Knights, Danielle Grant, and Greg Young
Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group (2018)

A healthy ego combines pride, reason, passion, humility, and empathy in proper balance

Sigmund Freud is generally credited with developing a model for the human psyche that consists of three components: the id is the primitive and instinctual part of the mind that contains sexual and aggressive drives and hidden memories; the super-ego operates as a moral conscience; and the ego is the realistic part that mediates between the emotional desires of the id and the  rational constraints of the super-ego. Opinions about them differ — sometimes sharpy —  and disagreements are sometimes exacerbated by misunderstanding.

To serve their purposes, John Knights, Danielle Grant, and Greg Young like to define “ego” in the context of the Transcendental Leader is to refer to the negative part of one’s personality that must be overcome. That is, “the ego is that part of self that is based on our self-image and only interested in our personal benefit.”

With regard to the defining characteristics of a transcendental leader, they include these values: altruistic love, courage, fairness, humility, integrity, and resilience. The qualities of a transpersonal leader include authentic, caring, emotionally intelligent, ethical, performance enhancing, and radical (i.e. non-traditional). Robert Greenleaf had much of this in mind when developing his concept of servant leadership in an essay published in 1970.

“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.”

Knights, Grant, and Young make skillful use of 14 mini-case studies that illustrate the application key ideas in real-world experiences with which most readers can readily identify. For example,  international recruitment (Page 88), Chatham House Rules/Stakeholder priority (171), blended learning (254), leadership development goals (264), and collective leadership approach (266). One or more valuable business lessons can be learned from each.

These are among the passages of greatest interest to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Knights, Grant, and Young’s coverage:

o Developing successful leadership (Pages 1-11)
o Spiritual intelligence (8-10, 38-40, 138-139, and 152-162)
o Foundation journey (15-20)
o Robust, Emotionally Aware Leaders (25-16, 125-127, 135-136, and 211-212)
o Managing emotions (66-79)

o Coaching style of leadership (87-88, 94-105, 109-110, 127-129, and 257-258)
o How to become proficient in the Coaching style (98-103)
o Creation of a performance-enhancing culture (106-124)
o Advanced journey (133-134 and 163-173)
o 8ICOL® (139-151)

o Eight Integrated Competencies of Leaadership (143-151)
o Applying consciousness to leadership (152-162)
o Beyond ego (163-173)
o Self-determination (186-189)
o Ethics in leadership learning (187-188 and 126-267)

o Diversity (200-210)
o Extended capabilities of Transpersonal Leaders (218-221)
o Continuous personal development (231-241)
o Development of Transpersonal Leaders (241-270)
o Modern learning principles (243-259)

I agree with John Knights, Danielle Grant, and Greg Young that effective leaders have a healthy ego that combines pride, reason, passion, humility, and empathy in proper balance. That is true of George Washington, one of the wealthiest men throughout the thirteen colonies. That is also true of Abraham Lincoln who may be the poorest man who ever served as president of the United States.

Almost anyone an become a better leader but some people are born into socioeconomic circumstances that give them a substantial advantage over everyone else. An old farmer once attended Ralph Waldo Emerson’s lecture on transcendentalism and then observed, “You can’t transcend much on an empty stomach.”

If you aspire to become a Transpersonal Leader, you may already know the what and why of that process. Here is a book that thoroughly explains HOW.

Your journey awaits. Bon voyage!

Leading Beyond the Ego [colon] How to Become a Transpersonal Leader, John Knights, Danielle Grant, Greg Young, Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group

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