Soul Lessons of a Leader

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Soul Lessons of a Leader

The Institute for the Advancement of Service
has been developing a template for leadership grounded in
soul development since 
its founding in 1980.

We envision a new era of conscious leaders who balance
virtues of heart and mind, spirit and matter, and feminine
and masculine principles. 

By deepening their inner lives, awakened, soul-inspired leaders view their leadership as a classroom of the soul. 

Leadership as a Classroom of the Soul

By deepening their inner lives, awakened, soul-inspired leaders can transform their organizations into ones that truly support their members and those they serve. They shift their style, purpose, and form of leading by viewing their leadership as a classroom of the soul. Experiencing their leadership in this way, they participate in the gifts and challenges of the Piscean-Aquarian transition.

To experience leadership as a classroom of the soul during the Piscean-Aquarian transition is unfailingly supportive and endlessly practical: the more we act from a place of self-responsibility and self-care as leaders, the more we learn to balance mind and heart, all-giving and discernment, idealism and practicality, and sensitivity and creativity. The more we become aligned with soul, the more our organizations (or groups) evolve and shine in the fulfillment of their destiny.

The Aquarian Curriculum of Leadership

When leaders view their leadership as an Aquarian classroom of the soul, they enroll in a curriculum that includes principles, tools, and practices for living seven components of soul-inspired leadership:

  1. Stages of Soul Development
  2. Purpose of The Inner Leader
  3. Soul Lessons of Leaders
  4. Feminine and Masculine Energies
  5. Shadow of Leaders and Organizations
  6. Spiritual Awakenings
  7. Tri-Leadership

As an Aquarian classroom that embraces soul learning and service, leadership offers an opportunity to learn five soul lessons. Once leaders have mastered the first four lessons – vision, right relations, analysis, synthesis – they can attain the ultimate soul lesson of standing alone.  Mastering the five soul lessons allows the life force of the soul to emanate through leaders as right action: doing the right thing in the right way at the right time and for the right reason.  It can take a lifetime for a leader to fully learn even one of the five lessons.

Just as leaders have soul lessons, so do groups.
Learn about the Soul Lessons of Groups

Five Soul Lessons of a Leader


Learning to formulate, sustain, and ground a vision is the bedrock underlying all soul lessons of leadership. The vision is grounded through the mission and organizational structure and requires skills in head-centered, practical, day-to-day operations.

A group or organization's vision is grounded through the mission and
organizational structure
and requires skills in
head-centered, practical,
day-to-day operations.

A shared vision is created with members of the organization while maintaining healthy working relationships with the staff and the population served. The shared vision lesson gifts leaders and group members with sustained energy and commitment to manifest their vision in the world.

Right Relations

When we as leaders neglect our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing and do not engage in continuous self-development, we are prime candidates to learn the second soul lesson, right relations.   Learning how to be in proper relationship with self and others assures the leader that the highest good is served for all.

Leaders learn the soul lesson of right relations when they study and implement healthy boundaries in the workplace, acquire communication skills, and learn how to reframe mistakes as learning opportunities.


Learning the soul lesson of analysis helps leaders distinguish between the spirit of criticism and the ability to analyze. The energy of criticism is judgmental, accusatory, harsh, and attacking. Criticism harms those who give it and those towards whom it is directed. Attacks create barriers between people and precious time is lost in mending fences that need not have been damaged.

Analysis also involves learning skills to think systemically. Learning to analyze circumstances and people from the angle of the highest ideals prevents us from making errors in judgment.


Through the soul lesson of synthesis, leaders learn how to be holographic, seeing the bigger picture or destiny of their organization as well as its interconnected parts. We recognize that an organization’s integrity depends on its ability to function as a hologram. That is, every piece of an organization, whether a person, a piece of information, an idea, a task, a program, or an event is interconnected and thus involved in the creation of a shared vision and mission (“need to know, need to participate”).

As a leader, we develop synthesis-thinking by practicing both-and thinking and avoiding getting caught in the tug of oppositional thinking of right-wrong, black-white, win-lose, either-or thinking. We develop intuition and imagination for problem-solving. We develop the witness, that part of our mind that can stand back and observe without judgment. We examine our willingness to serve as the “glue” that creates cohesiveness within our organization.

As a leader, we can stand alone only if we learn
to love enough.

To Stand Alone

Our ultimate soul lesson as a leader is to learn to stand alone. We achieve this lesson when we learn to unconditionally love humanity and after we have mastered the four soul lessons of vision, right relations, analysis, and synthesis. We develop self-confidence that emerges when we feel connected to our spiritual essence and when we experience the spaciousness that comes with the acceptance of life as it is.

As a leader, we acquire the knowledge that, regardless of the challenges and even dangers we experience in our leadership role, we know we can stand alone only if we learn to love enough.  We also learn how to think holographically, seeing how details of a situation or interaction connect with other parts of the organization.

Becoming the Leader We Were Meant to Be

As leaders, we bring our personal self to our soul lessons, whether these lessons entail learning how to evolve a vision, learning right relations, analysis, synthesis, or learning to stand alone. Our commitment to learning these soul lessons determines the depth and breadth of our learning.

Over time we become the leader we were intended to become. Not the leader we thought, perhaps, nor the leader others wanted us to be. We become the leader we were meant to be.

To Stand Alone in heart-centered alignment

To Stand Alone in heart-centered alignment with our Divine essence

Reference: Susan S. Trout. The Awakened Leader: Leadership as a Classroom of the Soul, ©2005, and The Clarion Call: Leadership and Group Life in the Aquarian Era, ©2009, Alexandria, VA:  Three Roses Press.

Image attribution: "Woman radiating light from within into an opening of spiritual heart" by Lightcube.


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