Great Leaders Got Soul

When I explore great leaders I always find they have a vast depth of thought, an intensity—a soul. Those who lead from the depths are genuine individuals who strive to make profound changes in the lives of many. Let’s explore two international leaders and how they might affect your leadership style.

Mahatma (Great Soul) Gandhi and Nelson Mandela both sought and enabled profound social justice improvements in their respective countries. At their core, their depth, they valued the principle of social equality and for it were willing to give their lives.

Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela

These leaders spent considerable time in reflection, whether in prison or voluntarily during their times of freedom. From these depths emerged the strong boughs, beautiful blossoms, and succulent fruits of their philosophy, providing the eloquence and fortitude to move ever onward.

Once these leaders came to power their drive continued as they worked to fulfill their mission. Others waiver and allow themselves to be corrupted by the power. Great leaders choose principle over power, maintaining a constant course using their moral compass.

I am reminded of the quote from Lord Acton, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority…” Following the Arab Spring we have several countries with fresh revolutions. My hope is that their elected leaders stay true to their moral compass and do not become drunk with power.

As I contrast great leaders with despots and politicians it is easy to see how the latter types operate from the surface. They only care about their own survival or promotion rather than a deep conviction for the greater good of the community.

Taking some time to reflect on the questions below may help you assess your leadership and find the convictions in the depths of your soul.


• How much time have you spent reflecting on your leadership role and what you might strive to accomplish?
• Which is more important to you: how you may be perceived as a leader or what profound changes you may be able to make in peoples’ lives?
• In what ways do you engage others in your mission and vision?
• Who are your role models and sources of inspiration?

Keywords: leadership, non-violence, soul, depth, power, principle, Arab Spring

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