The field has grown larger and the game has gotten a lot tougher. Today’s competitors seeking to make the cut for the top slots are again drawing on every resource available.

Twenty years ago the tool of choice was the trim body. Business people rediscovered their physiques and saw the correlation between a fit frame and a more alert business approach. A decade ago fitness training gave way to job skills training. Minds were honed in soft skills, hard skills, and even tech skills.

Yet with body and mind sharpened to the utmost, executives now are finding the need for more spiritual resources to glean profit and personal satisfaction. Stephen Payne can help with that.

Payne, a leadership coach who seeks to infuse faith with work, leads a team called the New Equilibrium, and this team is hosting a two-day leadership and spirituality seminar on Sunday and Monday, April 11 and 12, at the Erdman Center for Continuing Education at Princeton Theological Seminary. Sunday’s seminar begins at 3:30 p.m., Monday’s at 7 a.m. Cost: $85. Visit www.ptsem.edu/ce/las.

Speakers will include Payne, founder of Leadership strategies, and James Wood, senior vice president for the Clemens Family Corporation.

Payne holds an appealing background for business leaders seeking no-nonsense, practical answers.

Growing up in Birmingham, England, the athletic Payne developed what the refers to as “the face and ears of an avid rugby player.” He obeyed that sport’s jesting command: “Give Blood, Play Rugby.”

Entering Aston University, he earned a bachelor’s in 1969, followed by a PH.D. in chemical engineering. It was this engineer’s background that taught him to experiment, scrutinize, then rework for optimal performance, every aspect in his business career — including the processes of his faith.

Payne began consulting work for London-based PA Consulting. After providing managerial guidance to firms in Paris, Payne was ordered across the pond. He landed in Huntington, West Virginia, to help guide that region’s CSS Railroad.

Undaunted by the culture shock, Payne rose to be CEO of PA Consulting, which has an office on Princeton-Hightstown Road.

In l994 things changed dramatically. According to a 2009 interview with blogger Bradley J. Moore, Payne fell into a deep despair when PA Consulting decided to get a new CEO.”They fired me,” Payne told Moore. “That event literally brought me to my knees.”

Payne goe on to say that he blamed God before having an epiphany. “Don’t you think it would be a good idea to do something for someone else sometimes?” he recalled. “My life started moving from taking-all to giving-all. That simple principle is now the core of my entire life.”

A lot of corporate C-level executives across the globe pay Payne handsomely for his counsel on team leadership and corporate dynamics.

He originally brought his concept of spirituality in leadership to a select and receptive few. “Now it’s just a standard part of my consulting,” he says. “It’s really such an inherent part of best business practices, you cannot justifiably leave it out of the training.”

In 2004 he wrote “The First Rule of Leadership,” a book outlining his principles of leading yourself first, then leading others.

“So many leaders hold a deeper sense of unease — a sense we are on the wrong way,” says Payne. “At the same time we yearn for a more balanced life and we truly believe it lies out there.”

Today’s leaders are under tremendous pressure to motivate their teams. The business community at large has come to view people, not hardware, as a company’s primary asset, and the individual’s capacity to blossom in the right soil is considered nearly infinite.

Unfortunately, while most managers can envision this idealized goal of a joyous, idea-swapping brotherhood where high morale feeds boundless creativity and success, they stand baffled by the initial steps.

In fact, most leaders are too embroiled in their personal career dissatisfaction to offer teammates any real direction. They see the flaws in their relations with coworkers, but feel helpless as the distrust only intensifies.

Many know their personal values certainly don’t jibe with the operating practices they see as inevitable in their firm. And however great the tangible success of self or company, legions of top executives wonder daily why they are doing all this? For individuals of faith, it is difficult to fit their daily life into some greater, perhaps divine plan.

“If you accept the existence of some universal force greater than yourself — call it God or what you will — a certain logic follows,” says Payne. This force that has laid out existence as it is, would probably hold a plan for you, as part of its creation. Further, tapping into that universal force would almost surely bring you a greater power in all aspects of your life, including your capacity for leadership.

As a long time executive coach, a major theme of Payne’s message has been that to lead a team well, you must first lead yourself. When a CEO complains that no one in his organization seems able to make decisions without coming to him, Payne shoots back, “Yes, and how much of that problem are you willing to own up to, Mr. Executive?”

Solutions reach far beyond amending destructive behaviors. Payne asks individuals to delve in and find the source of these behaviors, discover their own unease, then bring to light their own spirituality to get themselves back on track.

The process is personal and the road is seldom easy. To help, Payne guides the individual through a series of self calibrations and realizations. As the search for his personal spirituality builds, the executive begins to realize that he personally holds a creative force for good. This essence manifests itself, at least in one way, by a craving to build, to be in business. This creative force is not only some innate human trait, it is that spark of the divine within you. Nurturing it will stop time from spinning out of control and bring you onto a more focused, more satisfying pathway.

Once the executive has discovered his personal spiritual force, he may begin seeing it in his team. “The key to remember here,” says Payne, “is that each person will manage that divine force differently.” It then becomes the team leader’s job to help employees unlock their own spirituality and provide them the best possible playing field on which their spirit-guided skills may flourish.

“It’s not every day,” says Payne, “but when you have unleashed the spirituality in yourself and all your team, and they are all striving forward together, there comes those occasional moments of feeling that everything is meshing beautifully.” This is the true satisfaction that comes with the divine presence guiding the hands of daily business.

Usually after a few such moments, leaders begin to envision the full circle. The leader and his team all share a common fire. It becomes the leader’s task to keep igniting the fire by developing sensitivity to each team member’s requirements and tweaking the workplace environment as much as possible to suit each set of personal talents.

Payne insists that this seminar is not exclusive or specifically religious. Jews, Moslems, Christians and agnostics have already registered.

“The spirit is a force — a tool that will help you lead better,” says Payne. “You may shape it to your hand as you see fit, but the important thing is to realize its power and to employ it optimally in your leadership life.”

#b#Leadership Strategies#/b#, 140 Hunt Drive, Princeton 08540; 609-921-3399; fax, 609-921-6637. Stephen Payne, president. www.leaderx.com.

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