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  • Megan Jagger

Bringing a soulful approach to your leadership - Pod O'Sullivan

There are many ways to explore being soulful as a leader and they are all worthwhile! Sometimes having questions that act as prompters or guard rails are useful. Below are five starting points to begin with. Influenced by soul music as a genre, these questions encourage you to pause, delve deep, make time for what is important to you and have fun. Good soul music can make you feel something in your heart, in your body, and in your spirit. Soulful leadership can have the same impact on the people around you.

1. What is fundamental to your leadership impact and how do you make time to do that part really well?

Think about the leadership aspirations or outcomes you want to have with your current team, stakeholders and/or colleagues. What are the fundamentals that are pivotal to these outcomes and how do you ensure you are creating enough time to accomplish these? In music terms, this is the core rhythm of a song, the beat, the march. Without a regular defined and adhered to beat,

chaos emerges!

2. What adventures do you want to have and therefore how do you prioritise time for that?

Soul music builds on the very familiar 12 bar rhythm that is blues music and reaches out to embrace gospel, African, some jazz, call and responses and a whole lot more, which together makes up soul music. Leadership is more than just delivering on promises, hitting KPI’s, achieving targets. They are important clearly but not enough. Being soulful asks that you play on the edges, experiment with ideas, innovate through relationships and find an adventure to catalyse or join.

3. What physical activity do you do that feeds your body and therefore how do you prioritise time for that?

A musician will take time to practice scales, arpeggios, listening to other recordings on order to maintain their craft as a musician. It is fundamental to the energy they bring as a playing musician. One of the core fundamentals to leadership longevity is the energy you bring to the role and the people around you. Physical exercise is the practice that often enables this.

4. Who are the people that are important for you in the long term and how do you prioritise time for them?

Musicians look to great songwriters, singers and fellow musicians for inspiration, nourishment, and insight for the song they are trying to surface and write. Leaders who are consistently impactful recognise the importance of close relationships outside of their working environment. These can include immediate family, spouses, partners, children, and close friends. One leadership effectiveness study showed that the most impactful leaders prioritised regular time with a small number of close family members and friends, both as it was important for them personally, but also as it nourished them as leaders.

5. What brings you joy in life and therefore how do you prioritise time for that?

When you think of Motown music what do you immediately hear or feel? I bet joy is on your list! There are many definitions of the term being soulful. But one common understanding is being soulful has a sense of joy about it. Leaders that are observed to live authentically, with impact and even who are seen to inspire others regularly choose to spend time in spaces that create awe and wonder, which often brings them joy. This might be practising art, crafts, cooking or taking long walks in nature, bike riding in a national park, attending music gigs or a who knows what else!

Generally speaking, soulful leadership emerges from a space of awe, wonder and joy.

Listen to the Leadership Diet podcast with Padraig at:

A weekly podcast with leaders and experts where

we uncover all things that lead to great leadership.

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