A Manifesto on Mystical Leadership

When societies shift, so do the definitions and descriptions of leadership. The shift from agrarian societies to industrialized nations in the 19th century brought forth leaders that were valued for their rationale, logic, sensibility. They were venerated for their decisiveness, their ability to keep their emotions in check, for having a vision and executing on it. They were problem-solvers and people-movers. Spiritual matters were seen as irrelevant, unnecessary and/or in competition with reason. Spiritual matters were conveniently compartmentalized as religious beliefs and were sharply and distinctly different from leading - especially in business. These leaders did pay homage to luck, timing, providence, gut instincts - but only as unexplainable factors in their endeavor to build. 

These leaders of convention still permeate our business, social and political cultures. They are obsessed with data, productivity, ROI, scaling. They carry with them the same zealous “manifest destiny” as their forebearers - but are using it to build cap value and market share instead of railroads and ships. They are the new institutions whose names and businesses occupy almost every corner of our lives.

A new kind of leader is emerging. Or it may be more accurate to say, a new kind of leader is returning. These humans are practitioners of what I am referring to as mystical leadership

Mystical leadership is a philosophy that holds logic and faith as equally essential traits of a leader. It recognizes humility, compassion, moderation, intuition and wisdom as necessary leadership qualities. Mystical leadership embraces all the dichotomies and paradoxes of being a human - the divide between ego and soul. It acknowledges and accepts the natural volatility and uncertainty of life and leaves room for mystery and possibility. 

Mystical leaders are identified by the following twelve traits:

  1. Belief in the inherent goodness, value and worthiness of humans.

  2. Wherever possible, their mission and their business/career are in union and harmony with each other.

  3. Embrace that the unknown is as equally a part of reality as what is known.

  4. They are mirrors, not projectors. They don’t fix or give advice. They practice inquiry and prize having the right question over the right answer.

  5. Design strategies and plans that leave room for mystery and flexibility.

  6. Respect and admiration for both knowledge and wisdom; understand and respect the difference between instinct and intuition.

  7. Take ownership of their circumstances and conditions and adjust their plans, mindset and behaviors accordingly.

  8. Believe in alchemy - the impossible joining together of various materials to make something that never existed before.

  9. Constantly access imagination, child-like wonder and paying attention to create and innovate.

  10. Trust the arc of evolution always bends towards better. As such, they allow room for pain, timing, failure, iteration and even death.

  11. Believe souls matter more than roles in every situation, condition or decision.

  12. Understand learning is a super-power - as is teaching. So they are perpetually both a humble student and a compassionate mentor.

Mystical leaders are blended not binary. As both pragmatists and prophets, they represent the mystical and the material.  As such, they are each contributing to the evolution of consciousness. In their own ways, they are dismantling the obsolete and are creating new (or reminding us of ancient) systems, structures and models that are in alignment with higher consciousness. They reject both corporatism and socialism and instead present a third way of re-imagined capitalism that is focused on well-being, interconnectedness and creativity. 

Mystical leaders come from no specific hierarchy, ideology, theology or philosophy. They have no specific educational background; no specific behavior profile. They come from no tradition other than they have awakened within themselves the wisdom of the ancients. They are not messiahs or gurus. They bleed, make mistakes, experience anxiety, make poor decisions. Neither are they robots - they feel, they cry, they laugh, they crave, they yearn. But they are disciplined. Their days leave room for mystery and unexpectedness, but they also hold space for contemplativeness, mindfulness, movement, creativity. They manage energy more than time. They hold firm boundaries based on self-compassion and compassion for others.  

If you feel a calling to use your gifts and skills to contribute to humanity, you are a mystical leader. If you yearn to create, you are a mystical leader. If you have a voice in your soul that must be expressed, you are a mystical leader. If you believe in the potentiality of yourself and others, you are a mystical leader.   

If you’ve felt any or all of these, you are being called to do something great and important. Please let me know how I can support you.