Awakening A Leader’s Soul: Learnings Through Immortal Poems reminds us that at the center of great leadership is great humanity. Traits like empathy and humility provide the insight and understanding you need to lead others well. Filled with inspiration and imagination, Gaurav Bhalla’s book elevates the discussion around leadership in a way that can help transform how organizations train our leaders of tomorrow. The following lines from T.S. Eliot are a perennial source of inspiration because they combine the call to strive, to explore, and to experience, while at the same time keeping one’s sense of wonder:
“We shall not cease from explorationAjay Banga
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
President and Chief Executive Officer, Mastercard
There is a reason why Soulful Leadership is near and dear to my heart. I have deliberately inculcated a sense of soul into my company over the past 42 years. It has become and is one of our greatest sources of competitive advantage.Bill Crutchfield
Founder and CEO, Crutchfield Corporation
Few books help leaders journey within. This book does, in an exceptionally imaginative and innovative manner, through the wisdom of immortal poems. It holds up the poems like a mirror to enable leaders come face-to-face with their own humanity, and see themselves differently. I am convinced Awakening A Leader’s Soul: Learnings Through Immortal Poems will elevate the discussion on how leaders shape their leadership journeys, and how organizations train current and future leaders. The teacher that has left a lasting impression on my leadership journeys is Deepak Chopra.Dan Hoeyer
Founder and President, Leaders Excellence, Inc.
I love this book, because it’s an uplifting and transformative journey. It leads the reader gently by the hand on a stroll from the uncertainty of her own day to day dilemmas to the profound comfort of trusting her wise heart. During the journey, Awakening A Leader’s Soul: Learnings Through Immortal Poems, itself a model of the integrated self, helps the reader experience what it feels like to be a deeply satisfied, soulful leader. By the end, Gaurav’s transformed soulful leader, confident and motivated, launches into her new big Monday Morning task: to transform her organization.Elsie Maio
Humanity, Inc/SoulBranding℠ Institute
“I came to your shore as a stranger,
I lived in your house as a guest,
I leave your door as a friend, my Earth.”Even such a modest accomplishment, presented by Rabindranath Tagore in ‘Stray Birds’ (1916), now seems difficult to aspire for in our complex, rapidly mutating world. Securing for everyone a life of dignity in a clean, safe and healthy environment, requires sorely missing inspired leadership at multiple levels. Gaurav Bhalla’s latest book crystallizes this mounting concern over the lack of service undertaken with humility and sensitivity, as well as the absence of commitment amongst our contemporary leaders. Soulful Leadership emphasizes that a crucially important human-centered sensitivity underlies effective leadership; the book surely merits our most careful attention.Ajai Malhotra
Career Diplomat, Former Indian Ambassador to RussiaTrustee-Founder, Health and Education NGOs
Compulsively readable…just what the world needed. With the help of the world’s greatest poems and poets, Awakening A Leader’s Soul: Learnings Through Immortal Poems vigorously transforms the conversation on leaders and leadership by locating the wellbeing and prosperity of human beings and the planet at the heart of all leadership journeys. Brilliant. The poem that has sustained me in my leadership journeys is “If,” by Rudyard Kipling.LuAn Mitchell
Leading Woman Entrepreneur of the World, andInternational Best Selling Author
Gaurav Bhalla has provided a valuable window into what leadership is, and is not. True, “Character Driven Leadership” always comes from within, not from without, and is best seen in times of adversity, rather than abundance. Leadership is as much about transformation and development as it is about personality, example or inspiration. Bhalla shows us that all of us can be great leaders, and that all of us can burn bright. What wings dare us to aspire? What hand dares us to seize the fire? My favorite poem that has always inspired me is Carl Sandburg’s “Grass” – a three-stanza poem that expresses how we can forget the lessons of history…the grass covers them…and as a consequence, we are prone to repeat the mistakes that caused the destruction of the past.Rob Posner
CEO, NewDay USA
Why not draw upon the immortal words of great poet-leaders to provide the insight and inspiration so many leaders are seeking today? Through Awakening A Leader’s Soul: Learnings Through Immortal Poems, Gaurav Bhalla has created a thought-provoking resource on Soulful Leadership for anyone looking to fuel their journey to make the world a better place. Personally, I find the following lines from Ella Wheeler Wilcox inspiring:
“How ‘tis easy enough to be pleasantBob Chapman
When life flows on like a song,
But the man worthwhile is the man with a smile
When everything else goes wrong.”
CEO, Barry-Wehmiller, co-author of Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People like Family
The world is full of management books – but none are so fresh and deeply thoughtful as this one. With Awakening a Leader’s Soul Bhalla raises the bar for executive education. If leaders took its lessons to heart, not only would their businesses be transformed but so would they. With its wise counsel and many wonderful poems, this is a book to be treasured. Personally, poems have been my constant companions with favorites from many poets – Yeats, Rilke, Hopkins, Shakespeare, Dickinson, Szymborska, Milosz, and others.Betty Sue Flowers, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor Emeritus Global Strategy and Scenario Consultant
If there is one leadership book that you want to spend time reading in 2017, Awakening A Leader’s Soul: Learnings Through Immortal Poems is it. You read, reflect, act and repeat all over again. This book acts on you as you act on the learnings from it. It grew on me as I read it, and once I was done, I knew it would live in my heart forever. I love it!Prasad Kaipa, Ph.D.
CEO Advisor and Coach, Co-Author of “From Smart to Wise”
The need for leaders with purpose has never been greater in our fragile planet. Purpose does not appear out of the blue – it is honed and refined through constant consideration of both the self and the world. Gaurav Bhalla’s contribution to the leadership journey is to provide leaders with keys to unlock the doors to discovering purpose through poetry. This is not a text to be skimmed and jettisoned. Its place is next to every leader’s bed where it serves as a catalyst for deep reflection and mastery.
My choice of poem (also featured in the book) is by Christopher Logue, and it speaks for itself:“Come to the edge, we might fall…Professor Nicola Kleyn, DBA
come to the edge, and they came,
and he pushed, and they flew.”
Dean, The University of Pretoria, Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS)
Bhalla recognizes that business leadership is about action and leaders are hired to do something, which inevitably requires sacrifices and tough choices. This is where his book impressively makes the point that today’s complex world requires leaders that are rooted, self-aware and reflective. He presents a new narrative on leadership inspired by poetry so that leaders can better understand who they are, what they do, and how their decisions impact the world around them.Harish Manwani
Former COO, Unilever.
What can the world’s immortal poems teach leaders? Everything. Because, just as poems connect humans across time and space, their teachings connect leaders – also humans – to all that is relevant for them to lead across time and space. Which is why Awakening A Leader’s Soul: Learnings Through Immortal Poems is an extremely timely book and immensely relevant to us personally. We believe in the power of Soulful Leadership and in the power of poetry to help us shape our business philosophy of developing an “authentic connection between nature, individuals, and the built environment.” An old poem that we rely on is William Ernest Henley’s Invictus: Out of the night that covers me, Black as the Pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be, For my unconquerable soul….Chris and Marty McCurry
Co-Founders, Bark House, Certified B CorpFirst to Cradle to Cradle Certified™ PLATINUM
Soulful Leadership, the main theme of Awakening A Leader’s Soul: Learnings Through Immortal Poems, appeals to my intellect, but more importantly, it touches my heart. The main reason being that it captures the three key orienting principles of great leadership: insight, humility, and hard work. Insight, because great leadership takes a special kind of insight to know where to look, when to listen; humility, because leaders need wisdom, strength, and courage to get out in front and make the bold move when necessary; hard work, because great leaders don’t live on mountain tops, they work in valleys. My treasured touchstone poem that captures these guiding principles, and is packed with abundant wisdom about Soulful Leadership is an Italian sonnet, “The Windhover,” by Gerard Manley Hopkins: “…Brute beauty and valor and act…the fire that breaks…shéer plód makes plough down sillion shine….”Dr. Arlette Zinck
Dean and Professor, King’s University, CanadaActivist Guantánamo Bay Prisoner Rights (Omar A. Khadr)