The potential of ‘soul’ in business

‘Soul’ is not a word one hears much in the realm of business. 

In conversation with a remarkable fellow practitioner, Ellie Seilern (who helps leaders activate their soul’s potential) we talked about all the possibility that resides in a company’s soul. Ellie’s view is that the soul is the very epicentre of what a business can accomplish, which piqued my attention. I hadn’t thought about soul in this way before – I know intuitively that soul exists and that the soul plays some role in our lives, but I’d never thought about it in such concrete terms before. 

To engage with the soul requires a different kind of mode: more heart than head; intellectually open to new ways; pure; with a sense of wonderment. 

For CEOs, this can be a tough place to get to given the pressure that comes with the position, but it’s a requirement, in my view, if CEOs are to remain open to the rapid innovation that is taking place in our collective understanding of business performance.

So, even just through the remaining paragraphs of this article, try to remain open to what I’m writing about. Then reject it out of hand, if you must!!

Let’s assume that Ellie is right and that the total potential of a business lies in its soul. If that is the case, then we should pay attention because all the striving that CEOs do to build a successful business might be ignoring a crucial element in the performance mix: business soul.

Truthfully, I find it risky to put ideas like ‘business soul’ into the world on the widely-read platform that ‘CEO Mondays’ now is. I guess I fear being seen as a whack-job who is flouting concepts that don’t hold legitimate value. 

At the same time, I know one fundamental truth: what once drove business performance no longer drives business performance. And I must take whatever opportunity I can get to help steer CEOs toward a new and more viable way of building and running a business.

So, practically, how does soulfulness in business play out? In my view – and I’ll try to be as specific as I can be – I see the following ways:

  • Soul is sacred and when CEOs act sacredly, they are wiser and make smarter choices
  • Soul is nourishing and replenishes expended energy across a depleted business
  • Soul is profound and businesses are immediately more relevant when operating from a soulful perspective
  • Soul is a well-spring of new, fresh energy and creativity because it comes from such a deep, dense place
  • Soul is empathetic and encourages businesses to act with care and consideration (for staff, customers, and the planet)
  • Soul feels good: we all know when we are experiencing it (through music, through children, through the felt chemistry of a high-functioning team) and people who feel good work hard

I’m not advocating soft, inactive, touchy-feely businesses. Let me be clear about that: this is about performance but possibly a different take on performance from what you’d operated with in the past.

That is the learning that soulfulness offers us as business leaders: a nod toward a better way for businesses to be. And if you can open this ‘portal’ in your leadership development journey, you are opening up vital new ways to business success.

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