I am often asked, of all the books on leadership, which would you recommend? There are of course the classics – Peter Drucker, Warren Bennis, John Maxwell, our very own Ken Blanchard. There is a fun list on the Inc. website as well. But usually overlooked is a book that has become a bit of a bible for me as a leader and a coach: The Four Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer and Visionary
by Angeles Arrien. Arrien is an anthropologist who traveled and lived among indigenous peoples and studied change agents – all of whom draw on the power and wisdom of the 4 archetypes in the title. What she found was that no matter what their culture – peace loving or warmongering, maternal vs. patriarchal, agrarian or nomadic – all of the effective leaders follow roughly the same four principles which comprise the Four Fold Way.
- Show up and choose to be present (Warrior)
- Pay attention to what has heart and meaning (Healer)
- Tell the truth without blame or judgment (Visionary)
- Be open to outcome, not attached to outcome (Teacher)
I have been using these principles personally as a self leader, and experimenting with them with clients for over 18 years. They have proved to have astonishing staying power and have supported those who wish to build personal power, be more effective with groups, and increase their coaching skill. Most fine leaders are not as well rounded as they might be, and find very little inspiration in competency models to articulate their gaps and create a real plan to close them. This model provides another angle and I have found that the principles work regardless of religious conviction or cultural background.