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Resonant Leaders Calm the Turbulent Sea

Jan. 2, 2015
What makes Resonant Leaders more effective than other leaders?

“Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep… Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.”

-- Mt 8:24-26

In order to teach a life lesson, Jesus often spoke in parables. On rare occasions His stories would shoot an unequivocal arrow directly to the heart of the issue. But more often they only hinted obliquely at the meaning, leaving us to ponder and puzzle the deeper substance of the message.

But in the story of the stormy sea we see a very clear and unambiguous example of an authentic leader deftly handling a specific chaotic situation. If we employ this story as allegory for conveying a lesson about leadership, what meaning do we find in the telling?

... Resonant Leaders inspire others. When you interact with them you leave feeling charged up, excited… inspired!”

— Dr. Richard E. Boyatzis, Professor, Organizational Behavior, Case Western Reserve Weatherhead School, Cleveland, Ohio

Most organizational managers will no doubt identify with the “violent storm” and the feeling of having their boat “swamped by waves.” We are all faced with turmoil, chaos and change coming at us from all directions.

A new acronym, VUCA, is quickly finding its way into contemporary Leadership literature. The letters stand for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity –- leadership challenges left largely unaddressed in even the most prestigious of graduate business schools.

The demands from up and down the supply chain pull and tug at us: bosses demand; associates malinger; customers complain and vendors delay. Our personal and professional lives intertwine and cross-contaminate, and our emotional stability waxes and wanes from day to day… sometimes hour to hour.

We either feel like we are being micro-managed, or left to drift aimlessly with hardly any direction at all. Our budgets are undersized; our goals and objectives are out-sized; our deadlines are unreasonable and our time is wasted and fiddled away by an endless parade of mind-numbing meetings.

In the parlance of Dr. Richard E. Boyatzis, renowned expert on Emotional Intelligence at Case Western Reserve Weatherhead School in Cleveland, Ohio, we are relentlessly bombarded with Negative Emotional Attractors (NEA) in our daily work life. Over several decades, his research has demonstrated conclusively that the most effective antidote for all this NEA is a mature, authentic “Resonant” leader. So what is a Resonant leader? According to Boyatzis:

“Resonant leaders are people of high Emotional Intelligence (EQ) who remind others of the vision or purpose of the organization, which arouses context, meaning and hope. They care about others; beyond empathy or understanding, they deeply care.

Resonant leaders are mindful; they are authentic, transparent, genuine and act with integrity. On the whole, resonant leaders inspire others. When you interact with them you leave feeling charged up, excited…inspired!”

In short, resonant leaders have the ability to restore order from chaos, create calm in the midst of storm and inspire purpose and direction where confusion and despair once reigned. Like Jesus in the boat, they restore our faith.

Through their lived example we find it possible to believe in the ability of the organization to grow, thrive and contribute to the advancement of people, planet and prosperity.

We call these exceptional leaders by many names: “Conscious,” “Mindful,” “Enlightened,” “Heartfelt.” But if we are fortunate enough to encounter them in our work life, the best name we will ever call them is “boss.”

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