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Leadership advice from Rumi

Rumi, the Persian poet from the 13th century, gifted us with a sublime crafting of language, and many of his poems are reliable maps leading to self-awareness and intra-personal growth.

He writes: “Work in the invisible world as least as hard as you do in the visible world.”

This, in my view, is the primary task of becoming and being a leader — little to none of which you will encounter in the vast majority of leadership development courses, books and webinars, as most of what we call leadership development is learning how to DO leadership — like having performance conversations, monitoring productivity, and not how to BE a leader.

Leadership, in my view, is what you unleash in others by creating the conditions for people to bring their discretionary effort to the task, and not what you control. So my question is this: What in you might be getting in the way of welcoming and catalyzing the skill, creativity and potential of others, particularly people who are different from you? In your role as a leader, what fears hold you back?

Find that part in you and do the invisible work. The shortcut to effective leadership, is the hard work of removing the barriers within you to awakening the remarkable gifts in others.

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lisa Schmidt

Organizational culture change agent, professional coach and catalyst of creativity, change & learning. Find me at