Does your business day feel confused? Everything always swirling in change and laden with stress? “Well, send your boss to me,” says Stephen Payne, founder of A New Equilibrium. An international business leadership consultant, Payne knows that leadership rolls downhill, and that the executive is useless who cannot first lead himself from within.
To guide professionals down the path between inner, personal growth, and workplace executive success, the Princeton Theological Seminary’s School of Christian Vocation and Mission has invited A New Equilibrium’s training team to present “The Leadership and Spirituality Summit,” a two-day retreat that runs from Sunday, May 15, at 4:30 p.m. until the afternoon of Monday, May 16, at the Seminary’s Erdman Center for Continuing Education, 20 Library Place. Cost: $85. Visit www.anewequilibrium.org.
Speakers will include Payne; Sharon D’Agostino, vice president of Johnson & Johnson’s Worldwide Corporate Contributions and Community Relations division; and James Wood, senior vice president of corporate strategy for the Clemens Family Corporation.
Payne calls himself an ex-CEO on a mission. He wants every executive to achieve the very best results from the leadership journey. And to do that, he is delving into the very inner core of his clients.
Payne grew up in a family of gun makers and engineers in Birmingham, England. His great-grandfather sailed from Britain hoping to make guns for America’s Civil War. Taking himself out of the family trade, Payne entered Aston University, earning a bachelor’s in 1969, and later a Ph.D. in chemical engineering.
Payne began consulting work for London-based PA Consulting. After providing managerial guidance to firms in Paris he was sent to Huntington, West Virginia, to help guide that region’s CSS Railroad. Undaunted by the culture sock, Payne rose to be CEO of PA Consulting.
In l994, after descending into his own valley of despair, Payne emerged with an epiphany and founded the firm Leadership Strategies, 140 Hunt Drive, to guide the managing heads of Fortune 100 corporations. Seeing the need to bring spirituality into the workplace, Payne recently founded A New Equilibrium and has written three books (U.S. 1, April 7, 2010).
“The real problem with so much of today’s leadership guides, books, and seminars,” says Payne, “is that they are not grounded in any human, spiritual center.” The advice for leaders becomes a chore list of best practices and fix-it steps. However, leaders are not likely to follow somebody’s success checklist without defined core principles that rationally involve them as individuals. That is, they need to have their own spirit mentoring them from within.
“The walls are crumbling,” says Payne. “Businesses are no longer banishing one’s inner, spiritual self out of the office, onto one’s own time.” The reason is simple: business is a pragmatic gobbler of any tool that works. If setting their executives on a journey of spiritual growth will boost production, draw top talent, set a more energized atmosphere, and increase sales, companies will grab at it gleefully. However, applied spirituality is, at best, amorphous, and leaders are more than a little puzzled as to exactly what trip their firms are urging them to take.
A leap into self. The spiritual journey on which Payne’s leaders embark is lifelong. It launches with a giant leap of pondering some very personal, seemingly very non-business questions. Is there a higher power to which all people are naturally drawn? Is there a higher purpose for me as an individual? For all humans, including my fellow team members? How can I connect with that spirit and share it with my fellows? Like any good business person, Payne is seeking tools here, and direction.
Such queries about higher powers and life purposes feel akin to those present in every major religion and house of faith. And certainly, notes Payne, one’s religion can help greatly in understanding the distribution and flow of a spiritual power throughout the world around us. Yet A New Equilibrium espouses no religion’s specific tenets. Each leader’s journey and realizations must be his own. His faith may provide a walking stick, but in the end, he can only lead from his personally divined core principles.
With more questions and more searching individual discovery dawns. The executive can move forward from a basic sense of self, connected to a power he seeks increasingly to tap into. He burgeons into what Payne terms “a spiritually intentional leader.” The old tasks take on meaning and hold fulfillment. The old laundry list of best practices becomes an array of suggestions that he may judge and select. It is natural that the newly aligned leader brings his new spiritual power to that realm where he commits so much of his time and emotion.
Calm challenges. After your spiritual awakening the paperwork still smothers your desk. No matter how transcendent you soared at the seminar, your team still arrives late, disinterested, and laying anvils of frustration in your lap. The good news is that A New Equilibrium has not been a retreat, but hopefully an armory that has equipped you to better face the daily stresses of all aspects of life.
“One of the sweetest parts of this growth,” says Payne, “is that it is measurable within the business.” Seven out of ten leaders who have followed the course claim enormous drops in job and life stress. They feel more confident in all relationships. And most quantifiable of all — both sales and production go up.