Preview Thursday: Scaling Leadership

We are pleased to present this excerpt from Scaling Leadership by Bob Anderson and Bill Adams.

The Spiritual Journey of Leadership

When we step into a position of leadership, we step into a transformative crucible. The crucible metaphor comes from alchemy. It is the container in which enough heat and pressure build up to catalyze a transformation—for example, transforming the element lead into gold.

Leadership is a crucible. Along with being a spouse or parent, teacher or coach, we can think of no better crucible for transformation than leadership. By its nature, leadership will push us to our limits—maybe beyond them. It will call on the highest and best of who we are and what we offer to meet the daily challenges we face.

This is what we mean by leadership as a spiritual boot camp. The moment we start to work on our effectiveness as leaders, we begin to improve our effectiveness as a human being. Because our humanity is ultimately the foundation of our leadership, these paths are inseparable. This puts us right in the middle of a spiritual path.

By spiritual, we don’t mean religious except that the essence of all religions is radical (at the root) transformation. This choice calls on the highest and deepest within us. We are challenged to become higher versions of ourselves—to mine our true human greatness and put it in service of others. We are challenged to become spiritually intelligent—literate in the pathways of transformation. This is the spiritual path we take as leaders.

The choice to be a more effective leader means facing our development gaps, which we all have. Amid the current complexity, we cannot not be in over our head. Welcome to the club. So, there is no shame in facing your development gap. Escalating complexity is a benevolent force on every leader, relentlessly pressing us with our need to develop. Like a drill sergeant in our spiritual boot camp, it aims to evolve us.

There is no shame in having development gaps. We all do. Welcome to the human race and to leadership. We can and must extend compassion for ourselves and others while facing the steepness of our learning curve, both individually and collectively. If we risk being radically human and lead by learning out loud with our colleagues, there is plenty of grace, forgiveness, and compassion in the system—and support from those around us.

At its essence, leadership is a calling to serve. In a world increasingly at risk, leadership is a vocation that can link diverse people from all walks of life to create remarkable achievements. As such, leaders play a key role in designing a thriving future for all who inhabit this beautiful planet.

Leadership—the kind that multiplies capacity and capability in and through others— fundamentally requires that we become more fully human, well-rounded, integral human beings. At its heart, great leadership is radically human—that is, showing up more transparent, authentic, vulnerable, empathetic, passionate, compassionate, and even loving with one another (characteristics that separate us from machines). We bring that humanity into every meeting room. We make humility and humanness our foundation. We continuously evolve our leadership so we become a leader who gives back to the planet, makes a difference, and enables those in our charge to collectively create results that are innovative, durable, and congruent with what the world needs most.

Leadership is the deployment of self into circumstances. As a leader, you are your primary asset. How you show up moment to moment is your leadership impact.


Robert J. Anderson is the founder and Chairman of The Leadership Circle and co-founder and Chairman of the Full Circle Group. Bob has dedicated his career to exploring the connections between leadership, mastery, competence, consciousness, spirituality, and business. He is a true pioneer in the field of leadership development and research. He spends the majority of his time researching, writing, consulting, and speaking around the world, and is dedicated to impacting the consciousness and effectiveness of leadership globally. Bob’s practical wisdom, humility, creativity, humor, and expertise provide a rare and transformative experience with whom he works.

William Adams is the co-founder and CEO of Full Circle Group and The Leadership Circle. Bill has over 30 years of experience as a trusted advisor to CEOs and their teams around the globe. He partners with leaders to unlock breakthrough performance, develop deep leadership capability/capacity, and transformational business results. Bill is known for his practical commonsense approach to sorting through complex and difficult situations and produce exceptional results. He works with leaders as a leader himself that is learning and growing. His clients range from Fortune 100, multi-national corporations to fast growth start-ups, and include some of the best known and respected businesses in the world. Bill holds a Master’s degree in Interpersonal Communication from the University of Montana, and has over 40 years of hands-on business experience having started, run, and sold multiple businesses. He is an avid outdoorsman (currently residing in the mountains of Utah and Montana), married to the love of his life, Cynthia Adams; and together they are actively involved as parents and grandparents to 10 grandchildren.

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