The Intuitive Leader: Why Intuitive Executive Search Matters
You don’t know why, but you have this sense that business and leadership is not quite right. We seem to be doing it wrong, but you also have a difficult time pinpointing exactly what it is that we are doing wrong.
You’re not alone. And we are seeing symptoms at a collective level with such phenomena as the Great Resignation.
This article seeks to shed some light on where we may be missing the mark as a human collective and what can be done about it… all from the perspective of a shaman and leadership expert.
What’s the problem?
In shamanism, we have a healing practice called soul retrieval. An almost oversimplified way of describing this incredibly complex tradition is to say that we lose soul parts (or parts of our soul’s essence, our energetic signature) when we sacrifice our inner light or highest truth for any reason. I personally have lost many soul parts in my 39 years in this human vessel for a variety of reasons, and I even wrote a book about all of the ways I sacrificed my light in this life… and found my way back home to myself. I was in a marriage where I was not honestly or clearly vocalizing my needs and feelings consistently. I worked in a corporate job where I had to sacrifice parts of myself and my identity in exchange for fitting in or making myself more likeable, relevant, or credible.
So why am I talking about soul retrieval in an article about business and leadership?
Because what I have discovered in my work as a shaman is that, like humans, entities, organizations, and collectives also have souls. They are living and breathing entities with their own unique energetic signature. In my work, I have personally interacted with the soul or essence of our human collective, as well as Mother Earth (or Gaia), specific places, or entities. I am a spiritual channel or medium, so I interpret messages as I communicate with these entities.
Most organizations have experienced some type of soul loss by sacrificing their values or ideals for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to: accumulating wealth or profits, increasing visibility or status, and/or expanding or growing the business, not to mention all of the ways that most successful businesses and organizations have exploited marginalized and minoritized communities (often unknowingly) to get to where they are today. Most organizations have experienced some level of misalignment or, in extreme cases, have completely lost their way.
We have seen the symptoms of this phenomenon materialize in the ways that even well-meaning organizations are losing soul-led, heart-centered individuals in droves because the work, leadership, or organization as a whole is in misalignment with their individual path (although they may just say something like the job feels soul-sucking or not in alignment with who they are). We are currently in a unique place as a human collective where individuals are becoming more attuned to and thereby honoring their intuition over things that traditionally have created more perceived security such as a stable job or income.
The bottom line? Many employees are less likely (than in recent years, decades, and even centuries) to accept experiencing individual soul loss by staying in organizations whose leaders refuse to address the misalignment (or soul loss) within the organization or even within their own selves.
Now, I’m not currently in the business of performing soul retrievals for organizations. This is not to say that I wouldn’t be open to it down the road, but I do know that most organizations in our current reality are not quite ready for that.
What most organizations do need in this moment, especially given the state of transformation our world is currently experiencing, is an identification of where and how misalignment is occurring and an honest assessment of what can be done about it.
There is also a reckoning that needs to happen with our incredibly hierarchical way of operating within organizations these days. The power structure that exists in most (but not all) organizations is that there is a single person in charge of the organization as a whole. This person typically holds the role of CEO or Executive Director. And while hierarchy and top-heavy distribution of power is most certainly part of the problem, we must be able and willing to operate within the current construct in order to reimagine it into something more generative, holistic, and equitable.
This is where intuitive executive search becomes a critical strategy to get organizations to be more soul-led and heart-centered in service of becoming all that they are truly meant to become.
So what exactly is intuitive executive search?
The pure definition is the process of identifying, hiring, and placing a new intuitive senior leader to head an organization who is guided by both what is seen and unseen. (Read this article to learn more about who exactly the intuitive leader is.) The process itself is much more complex than it seems.
Step 1: Identify the misalignment
Similar to someone going through some type of spiritual or emotional awakening, organizations also need to have a reckoning with what is not in alignment and gain some awareness before understanding what is required for repair or healing. The best way to understand this is to ask one simple question: “Where does it hurt?”
Now, this is not as simple a process as it may seem. In order to accurately and responsibly collect this information, a skilled and intuitive facilitator and holder of gracious space must guide the process from beginning to end. And if you lead a diverse organization in any sense of the word, it will also require engaging someone well-versed in diversity, equity, and inclusion to ensure that additional harm is not caused in the process.
And simply asking the question is never going to be enough. Leaders within the organization must be willing to be accountable for repairing harm if they are going to ask this incredibly important question of staff and board members. I have held many listening and empathy sessions for organizations (especially for BIPOC folks) and witnessed organizations do very little (if anything) with the information, layering on even more pain and resentment for folks who made themselves incredibly vulnerable in sharing their pain in the first place.
This process requires an incredible amount of transparency on the part of the leadership team regarding how the stories that they obtain from individuals will be used to improve the organization for those who have been harmed. This ensures that there is accountability in place and often leads to more vulnerable sharing. It builds trust and leads to better information, which will only improve the process of finding the right leader and creating the right shifts for such transformative organizational change.
Think of it as if you were going to the doctor for pain in your body. The doctor asks you a series of questions in an effort to diagnose what ails you. You open up completely, telling them incredibly intimate and personal details of your pain (and anything that might remotely pertain to it) in an effort to get the best care possible. What if the doctor then turned and said, “Okay, I think this is all stuff you can live with,” and walked out of the room? You may never trust another doctor in your entire life.
Identifying and taking the time to understand the source of the pain (or misalignment) is critical before moving to the next step of the process.
Step 2: Find the right leader
Once it is clear what needs happen in order to bring an organization into alignment, it is important to begin to identify what characteristics or traits a specific leader should have in order to address the misalignment.
This is where it is imperative to have an expert in deciphering the information gathered from staff and board members to begin to understand who exactly the organization needs to support the transformation that the organization is primed to go through.
For example, if an organization is struggling with people feeling as though they can show up as their whole selves, it makes sense to put a leader in place who deeply understands why that would be and has a strategy in place to address it. If the organization struggles with moving too quickly and having an overextended and anxious staff, then the leader they need would be someone who values slowing down and being intentional in the ways that they proceed. They may even create organization-wide rituals or practices that center breathing and mindfulness. If an organization struggles with people being honest about their emotional states and how it impacts the work, they may need a leader who is well-versed in emotional intelligence and has a strategy to allow for more vulnerability at work in service of people showing up as whole, feeling humans.
Lastly, it is critical to ensure that the leaders that are brought in for interviews are deeply intuitive, which is what ultimately sets this process apart from traditional executive searches. Here is the thing: we are experiencing on a global scale a severe imbalance of the divine masculine (things that are seen such as money, metrics, linear time, etc.) and the divine feminine (things that are unseen such as intuition, emotional experiences, the understanding of energy, etc.). This severe imbalance toward the masculine has created toxicity and a complete disregard for the divine feminine, creating a ripple effect where, in order to survive, we have found ways to disregard important parts of ourselves such as our emotional states and our intuition.
In order to bring ourselves and our organizations back into balance, which in essence would be the most generative and holistic way forward for our human collective, we have to be able and willing to put leaders in place who value not only their own intuition but the intuition of all of the people in the organization.
Candidates would go through an intentional, anti-bias hiring process to ensure the leader hired is the most capable to address the misalignments within the organization and begin a process of healing and repairing the harm that has been caused during the its existence.
Step 3: Integration and moving forward
Once the leader is in place, the real work begins. It is important that the leader has adequate support, such as hiring an intuitive leadership coach to fine-tune their intuitive gifts and understand how to utilize them effectively in their new role. They must also make it a priority to address the misalignments that the staff and board communicated earlier in the process. Transparency is critical in building trust with staff, especially in those early days. What did you hear as pain points? What is your plan or strategy to address them? How long will it take? How can staff and board members hold you accountable?
The first year or so of bringing on an intuitive CEO or executive director is critical. It’s important for these leaders and their executive teams to begin asking themselves hard questions about what needs to shift in order to begin redeeming the soul of the organization. Again, soul retrieval may not be an option for organizations in this moment, but that is not to say that redemption is not possible. These conversations may start at the top, but inevitably everyone in the organization should have some stake and some say in the answers to these questions as well as the path forward.
Some questions that may support this reckoning are:
- Where have we been experiencing a power imbalance and what needs to shift in order to redistribute power in a way that is more generative and equitable?
- What processes are in place that have been harming or bypassing members of our [staff, community, etc.]? What needs to shift in order to plan for the dynamic experience of every single person, not just those like us, when creating processes, products, experiences, etc.?
- In our work, where have we been disregarding marginalized or minoritized voices or perspectives, and how can we begin to prioritize them in service of reimagining our organization to be more healing, creative, innovative, and generative?
- What do we value most? And what work are we doing that is in complete misalignment of our values and who we say we are or want to be? What do we stop doing and what do we start doing to ensure alignment in everything we do going forward?
- What does rest look like within our organization? What does healing look like? What gets in the way of our people speaking their whole, unfettered truth? Their sacred stories? How do we honor people as whole, feeling humans at every level? What, if any, reparations are needed to make whole those who have been carrying a heavier burden within our organization to date?
There are many more questions that may arise in this process, and with the right intuitive leader in place with the right level of support, I am confident that any organization will be on its way to finding more energetic balance with this framework. Many organizations also take the step to educate their staff and board on the importance of centering intuition and leading with compassion and authenticity.
The important thing to remember is that reimagining an organizational culture that centers intuition, compassion, and equity takes time and intention, and having the right leaders in place is the first and most critical step to realizing the full potential of any organization.
If you are ready to reimagine your organization’s limitless potential, let’s explore what it could look like to walk this path together.