Leader as Healer: A new paradigm for 21st-century leadership - Business Leader News

Leader as Healer: A new paradigm for 21st-century leadership

“Given the existential challenges we face, there is no book that is more important and timely than Leader as Healer.” – Michael Watkins, Professor of Leadership and Organisational Change for IMD Business School

Nicholas Janni, Co-Founder of Matrix Leadership Development, gained an international reputation for his transformational coaching and leadership development seminars, working with organisations and leaders worldwide.

Leader as Healer delves into the realms of exceptional presence and leadership for peak performance. The book serves as a call to break from the patterns of thinking and functioning that have become the norm in corporate environments. In these environments, the emphasis on ‘doing’ often overshadows the significance of ‘being’, and today’s leaders must possess the capacity for logic, reason, discernment, and strategic forecasting, yet remaining empathetic, grounded, and intuitive.

Here is an excerpt from Leader as Healer: A new paradigm for 21st-century leadership by Nicholas Janni.

Leader as Healer is above all a call to break from the chronically imbalanced ways of thinking and functioning that have become the norm in so many corporate cultures, where doing eclipses being, and hyper-rational, analytical thinking relegates feeling, sensing, intuiting and the transpersonal to the outer fringes of life.

To face the scope and threats of 21st-century challenges, today’s leaders must possess potent powers for logic, reason, discernment and strategic forecasting. Yet, they must also be empathic and therefore embodied; grounded and therefore intuitive. They must be skilled in mindfulness and deep listening; present and receptive to higher levels of insight and innovation; able to inspire authentic engagement and collaboration; and possess a clear and wholehearted sense of service, mission and purpose.

In the context of leadership, healing does not refer to the physical. Rather, it is:

  • The restoration of unity, bringing those parts of us and the systems within which we work that are fragmented and/or exiled back into a coherent whole
  • The rebalancing of our thinking, emotional and physical selves
  • The transformation of stagnant energy, leading to greater vitality, enhanced connection, and higher intelligence and wisdom
  • The awakening of transpersonal levels of consciousness
  • And a precise excision of that which is toxic, unhealthy and dangerous to the whole

‘Healers’ are leaders who have highly developed rational minds and have likewise invested in their emotional and psychological development. They are leaders who transmit embodied presence. They have explored and sufficiently reintegrated wounded parts of themselves and developed higher levels of consciousness and innovative capacity, abilities described by all cultures for thousands of years. As a result, these leaders bring to the table their cognitive, emotional and embodied physical selves; no part of the whole is excluded.

This emergent model of leadership unlocks parts of ourselves that have long been pushed aside, and even derided, in order to expand our operating bandwidth. By bringing higher levels of consciousness to our work, we find we can access much more nuanced information, much subtler signals. We can unlock new reserves of energy and inspiration, elevating our efforts and those of our teams to higher levels of efficiency, innovation and impact.

When a group of senior leaders feels secure enough to speak openly with one another about so-called ‘difficult’ emotions, breakthroughs of connectedness and understanding almost always follow. When we create space to attend to our fears, sadness and frustrations, our defensive strategies soften. We become more accepting, more compassionate, more embracing of ourselves and the world. And then, a portal to new ideas and solutions suddenly opens.


It is time to awaken from our collective state of exile and disconnection. As we do so, an inner stillness settles in and grows, enabling us to perceive ourselves and our lives in gradually more multi-layered, multi-faceted ways. As this unfolds, our habitual drives and prior distractions hold less influence. Qualities of embodied connectedness and presence become the dominant guiding principles of our lives and our work.

A leader who knows how to guide others into such fertile territory invariably finds that meetings become more enhanced, energized and often inspired and that an altogether higher order of collective intelligence unfolds. It is an intelligence that is more urgently needed than ever.

Humanity is at a critical juncture. We must change or face dire, even existential, consequences. Organizations stuck in old-paradigm leadership may well face extinction.

We have incredible technologies to aid us, but now we need equivalent development in consciousness. If we are to meet the systemic challenges and ecological crises of our time, if we are to enable our organizations to both thrive and contribute to society, our emotional, ethical and spiritual selves must also rise and grow.

New and higher leadership capacities are possible and available and are more urgently needed than ever. We have to learn to steward ourselves, our families, our organizations and our societies towards a healthier, more vibrant future for all.

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