The common misunderstanding of psyche is because the word gets translated most often as mind, thus terms like “mind-set” and “mindful” are often applied to leadership. Conventional wisdom is that leaders will be more successful if they think intelligently about solving problems, create innovative plans and programs, or new products and services, figure out how to be more efficient and effective, and improve the bottom line through being smart about revenue and expenses. Productive strategies are indeed desirable and welcome.
While all of those characteristics and behaviors are admirable traits in most leaders, in both the corporate and not for profit world of organizations and activities, there is a different meaning and value regarding the psyche of leadership. It has little to do with managing the outside issues that leaders must deal with on a daily basis or even on the more macro level of quarterly or annual performance.
When we consider the literal translation of the Greek word psyche, we discover that the word means “spirit” or “soul.” Consider the last time you had a conversation about the spirit of leadership or, the soul of the leader. Psyche does have something to do with attitudes and core values and beliefs as these components are closer to the internal landscape of the leader in contrast with externally acquired skills and experience. The psyche of leadership goes beyond the cognitive and mental abilities of the leader and has more to do with the emotional center and how the leader projects heart and soul.
Leadership that emanates from spirit can nourish and sustain the soul of the leader and provide a balance between the emotional and rational responses needed in almost every situation. Genuine and positive energy can be transmitted to every person in the organization through direct and indirect contact and communication. The psyche of the leader influences the environment as well as the quality of inter-personal relationships that help sustain a thriving organization.
It is important for leaders to be passionate about the pursuit of excellence. It is equally important that compassion and caring are heart-felt. That will make a significant contribution to a strong, healthy and energetic leader whose spirit is visible, palpable and durable. How’s your spirit?