Who would define the infusion of deep spirituality into one’s business leadership role as an equilibrium? Perhaps only a chemical engineer such as Stephen Payne, CEO of Leadership Strategies and founder of A New Equilibrium — both focused on leadership consulting.
For those who love their work, and those who would like to, A New Equilibrium and the Princeton Theological Seminary’s Erdman Center are co-sponsoring a “Leadership and Spirituality Summit.” Designed to discuss “The Fully Present Leader,” this two-day event is on Sunday, May 6, at 3:30 p.m. through Monday, May 7, at 4:30 p.m. at the Seminary’s Erdman Center, 20 Library Place.
Speakers include Payne; Donald Deieso, operating partner at Arsenal Capital Partners; Terry Herring, president of Mission Pharmaceutical Company; and James Wood, senior vice president of the Clemson Family Corporation.
Payne shares a set of tools to enable the business person to labor more easily and effectively. The fact that they deal with cultivating one’s own spirituality makes no difference to Payne. It is as if he discovered a better wrench and is saying, “Here try this. You’ll get more done and feel less exhausted.”
Payne grew up in a family of gun makers and engineers in Birmingham, England (Payne’s great-grandfather sailed from Britain hoping to make guns for America’s Civil War). Taking himself out of the family armament trade, Payne entered Aston University, earning a bachelor’s in 1969, followed by a Ph.D. in chemical engineering.
Payne began consulting work for London-based PA Consulting, later becoming CEO of the firm.
In l994 Payne founded Leadership Strategies, 140 Hunt Drive, to provide management coaching to C-suite executives internationally. Seeing the need to bring spirituality into the workplace, Payne then founded A New Equilibrium and has written three books, including “Driving Growth Through Leadership” and “Manage Your World on One Page.”
Many fast-track folks have started to take an interest in spirituality as a personal business tool. The advantage of engaging one’s whole self is increasingly seen as making bottom line sense. It further offers the attraction of battering down age-old life boxes that relegate the mind and hands to “the company’s hours” and the rest of one’s assets to Sundays.
Need growth? Payne offers a quick quiz to those wondering if a spiritual journey might be for them:
• Do you feel that your time is not fully your own?
• Do you, as leader, feel that your team is not fully behind your vision?
• Do you yourself feel that your vision for your work meshes satisfactorily with all parts of your life?
• Do you find it hard to trust and be trusted?
• Would you feel inspired and comfortable following a leader who treats his team like you do?
It is a quiz that would offer wincing realizations for most of us choosing to answer honestly. “This summit aims at providing tools for Monday through Friday, not Sunday,” says Payne. “It works not on one’s creed, but delves into one’s inner spirit where the makeover must begin.”
Is the leader in? A leader is someone who achieves greater accomplishments by working through and with other people. After all, whatever the business challenge, people (not gadgets) create the solution, says Payne. The journey to find one’s own essential core — that inner self — enhances this leader-to-team connection in two primary ways.
First, leaders who are in touch with themselves have determined what they most truly seek and desire. This makes their actions and decisions ever plainer and more easily understood.
They are able to quell that distracting mind-chatter that takes our mind off task. “It’s no mystery what Jennifer really wants and where she wants to take this team.” Shouldn’t they be saying that about you?
Secondly, in the search for self, a compassionate sympathy is brought to light. We are all builders under the skin. Each of us holds an innate urge to create something and bring it forth.
Typically in the process of finding one’s own most basic essence, a human common factor becomes evident.
One instinctively feels sympathy toward individuals with this similar desire to produce. Leading then becomes a matter of answering each team member’s call to create.
Buoying each other. “One of the most advantageous methods of discerning ways to lead people comes from connecting with other people,” says Payne. It seems obvious, but this group mentoring connection is too often bypassed. We envision ourselves searching for our souls in a dark room, very much alone, staring at a candle or contemplating in utmost silence.
Payne reminds us, however, that this is a business challenge. Like any challenge, you gather the experts and experienced veterans together and scour them for input. You share your own ideas and feed off one another. The great thing about suggestions of others is that you never have to take them, and there are more people out there who want to help than hinder you.
As with any new discipline and life change, developing a spiritual center that you bring to bear on workplace problems is not easily donned like some new suit of armor. Centering oneself takes practice and individual techniques.
The daily grind of work blindsides you with stresses and unexpected traumas from all sides.
Yet when you can galvanize yourself and your team into that united crew, with everybody understanding the mission and pulling on the same rope, the achievements are surprising, and the satisfaction unequaled.