Finding flow through compassionate leadership

Lions in flow

Have you ever asked yourself whether you are being the best version of yourself?

There is a wonderful state of being when we are in alignment or ‘in flow’.  When we are in this state of being, the best version of ourselves is so evident.  There are multitudes of self-help recipes to assist us in this task of self-alignment. Good REM sleep to heal the wounds of the day, healthy delicious food to stimulate our body, time in the elements of nature absorbing vitamin D or the feeling the rain on our face, regular exercise to stimulate serotonin, a daily prayer or meditation practice to connect with something greater than our self, warm, loving and chuckle-filled  relationships, mindfulness to stay calm and focused, and the list goes on.

We can find ourselves in flow, where, no matter the circumstance, we are simply on song. We feel connected to the world and to ourselves, and unperturbed, we glide through the turbulent ocean of life, happy and focussed. For some lucky folk this may be the norm, or so it may seem.  However, in reality, life is not so swimmingly easy.

As leaders we all want to be in this optimal state of being.  And we want our teams to find their flow. We want good thinking,  good communication, good planning and great implementation from our teams. We want enthusiasm, focus, and progress.

In reality, more than 70% of our work force is disengaged and disconnected.  The world is certainly not in alignment and too many of us, are out of flow.   How do we connect to ourselves and our communities?  How do we bring out our best and the best in each other?

I recently met an amazing elderly male lion. Well he was actually an amazing elderly human being with the energy of a lion. Initially it was the hunting energy he carried as he led and grew a number of large corporations in South Africa in the 80’s. He described his time there as playing power. As time passed his wisdom grew and he discovered pride energy. It was as if his dark, brown, kind eyes looked right into my soul. His kindness and warmth filled me with energy and hope of being part of the same pride.  He left in me, a hope that human togetherness will solve many of life’s challenges. I felt safe in the presence of this lion man. I felt him listen deeply as I openly shared my thoughts and feelings without reservation.  This connection immediately filled me with trust and I knew within the first few minutes of meeting him that we were of the same pride. I believe that, like a lion, his natural instinct is to genuinely care for his pride. He does not think about it, he just simply cares deeply for humanity. It is the state of being he has chosen.

70% is a deeply troubling number.  And it is a result of decades of autocracy, disconnected, selfish corporate management, driven by the bottom-line and shareholder satisfaction.  Would a pride of lion survive in the wild with this level of disconnect from their environment? It reminds me of the emaciated “SCAR” in Disney’s Lion King, with his whining hyena of the wastelands.

As leaders and emerging leaders we have to change this number. We need to build a culture of trust and a connection to humanity. We need to genuinely care for our pride with compassion and understanding, and support them in their professional and personal growth. Our pride members must feel free to have challenging conversations with our leaders, and they must feel confident to bring their best creative selves to work. This is the safe space that will enable our collective state of flow. Only then, can our organisations be truly effective, fueled by the energy of a passionate and committed pride.


By James Tooley