Leading Beyond the Ego — Book Review

How to Become a Transpersonal Leader

Why leading beyond ego? The traditional leadership styles of the past are underperforming in a world of continuous transformation. Those that recognise this and learn how to lead beyond their ego will become emotionally intelligent and ethical leaders who are able to build strong, collaborative relationships, and create a caring, sustainable and performance enhancing environment.

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Leading Beyond the Ego — The Transpersonal leadership

The old-age leadership model of authoritarian, ego-driven command-and-control leadership no longer works. Nowadays we need leaders who act align with ethics, altruism, empathy, sustainability and collaboration. Leading beyond ego: How to become a transpersonal leader extends beyond customary limits and breaks new ground making it the preferred leadership model of the modern world.

“We can start to look beyond our ego by considering the important people in our lives and how we can manage our own ego for the benefit of others.”

Quote from Leading Beyond the Ego: How to Become a Transpersonal Leader

Among the key characteristic of transpersonal leaders are that they are authentic, self-confident, self-aware and empathetic. They also very committed to personal-development with a social conscience and care about the greater good.


Transpersonal leaders have three forms of intelligence

Transpersonal leaders should form their thought process based on three intelligence:

  1. Rational intelligence (RI) 
    This type of thinking depends on serial neural connections hard-wired at birth.
  2. Emotional intelligence (EI) 
    People with strong EI understand their own emotions and are empathetic to other people’s feelings.
  3. Spiritual Intelligence (SI) 
    This connects to your authentic self and focuses on the deeper values that lead to insight, empathy, truthfulness, delight, love, inspiration and harmony.

Transpersonal leaders Qualities —


They show concern for the people they lead and have empathy for everyone. They seek to make the world a better place.


They don’t buy into the status quo. Transpersonal leaders live and lead as progressive change agents.


They either follow the rules or openly, honestly work hard to change them.


They are, inside, precisely who they seem to be, genuinely themselves under any circumstances.


They never operate in the short-term. Transpersonal leaders are visionaries with their eyes on the future. They embrace continual, long-term, sustainable improvement.


Emotionally intelligent 

They manage their own emotions and work with the emotional concerns of their team members.


They help team members optimize their productivity.

Eight Competencies of Transpersonal leaders

“Leadership is complex and has many dimensions. One dimension is to look at the various levels of capability a leader needs to operate at the highest level.”

Leading Beyond the Ego: How to Become a Transpersonal Leader

These eight competencies shall add up to a well-rounded blueprint for developing leaders. This framework could be used as a guideline to monitor our progress on our journey to be a transpersonal leader ourselves.


The competencies for transpersonal leadership are:

Strategic Thinking: Intellect and logic

Leadership expert Daniel Goleman says that top leaders need a minimal IQ of at least 15% higher than average.

Intellect and logic break down into several categories such as problem analysis, verbal reasoning, numerical analysis, creativity, analytical and logical analysis, intuitive judgment and practical learning.

Combination of intellect and logic gives us strategic thinking.


Personality and preferences

Many psychological tests evaluate these vital characteristics.

Generally, personality and preference characteristics are innate, although environment and upbringing affect them.

However, we can amend them through personal growth so that they help us instead of ever hindering us.


Leaders must be aware of their own personality and character.

Understand how emotions affect behaviour.


Associated attributes include persistence, a positive outlook, decisiveness, transparency, adaptability, achievement orientation and initiative.

People who exercise self-management maintain their composure, even under stress.

Try to seek new information and remain open-minded with different perspective and angle.


Social awareness

This trait manifests as empathy, universal awareness, service orientation and organizational awareness.

General awareness involves being conscious of other people’s worldviews and developing higher interconnectedness.

Socially aware leaders listen to others. They acknowledge the importance of other people’s feelings and work to understand and appreciate their viewpoints.

Relationship management

Associated skills include delegation, empowerment, flexibility and spiritual-relationship management.

They know how to secure support and develop consensus and find opportunities for their team members to advance and grow.

They never accept the status quo. They are competent diplomats and relate well to others with consideration and respect.

They understand the importance of networks and work hard to establish and enhance them.


Artist Salvador Dali is credited with saying, “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.” Which illustrates the necessity of determination. Without it, you can’t accomplish anything.

Determination is the ultimate competency of transpersonal leadership.

Self-determination involves the dynamic question, “What I am going to do with who I am?”

Self-determination drives your purpose. It draws on your “action-oriented” values: “motivation, aspiration, drive (intense will), power, energy, courage, resilience” and “continuing professional development.”


Personal conscience

Focus on moving from “think, feel and am” to actually doing while self-determination transposes urge into action.

Combination of personal conscience and self-determination enables transpersonal leaders to manage their own beliefs, principles and standards.

“For the vast majority of us, our default leadership style, the ‘As-usual’ style, is to know everything and tell people what to do.”

Leading Beyond the Ego: How to Become a Transpersonal Leader

360 review process

A 360-degree review is the most effective and reliable way for us to assess where we are.


Everyone can learn to be a transpersonal leader

Everyone can be a transpersonal leader but it does require commitment. We should be proactive and learn on our own by developing our personal leadership abilities and related attributes and skills.

It requires focusing our efforts and awareness, eliminating harmful habits, building consciousness, ethics, and placing our values at the centre of all we say and do. Transpersonal leadership requires you to move from rational intelligence to emotional intelligence to spiritual intelligence.

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” (former GE CEO Jack Welch)

Leading Beyond the Ego: How to Become a Transpersonal Leader

Build on our strengths and learn to act in new ways by managing and moving beyond our ego. Because the people driven by ego can’t build authentic, lasting spiritual intelligence. Becoming a transpersonal leader requires being a good person. Our actions should benefit our organization and everyone around us.

Consciousness: The most valuable tool in transpersonal leader transformation.

Most begin the transpersonal journey in the REAL-1 stage as a rational, ego-based, as-usual leader. Then transforming into a robust, emotionally-aware leader in the REAL-2 phase. In the final REAL-3 stage, we’ll develop ourselves into a radical, ethically authentic leader.

“The benefit of identifying the Ideal culture for the organization is that it gives the organization a beacon to aim for. From this, we can identify which leadership styles need to be used more and which less.”

Leading Beyond the Ego: How to Become a Transpersonal Leader

Our goal is to become the kind of leader who can create a performance-enhancing, ethical, caring and sustainable culture. But transpersonal leadership isn’t a destination but it’s a sustained journey of ongoing personal development.


Incorporate 11 transpersonal practices as part of your personal development.

Success in becoming a transpersonal leader also depends on the self-development program we pursue. The best path is a complex adaptive system (CAS) that features cycles of learning, adjusting and evolving as a format for continuing growth.

The process of self-development through CAS calls on 11 transpersonal practices:

  1. Everyone’s a leader
    Help the people on your team reach their full potential.
  2. Value-led sustainability
    Base everything you do on your values and principles. Take the long-term view. Be transparent and open.
  3. Emergent thinking
    Detailed planning makes little sense in a world in constant flux. Set a direction but remain ready to adjust to and accommodate new circumstances.
  4. Holistic approach
    Stay alert to your overall patterns, relationships and connections.
  5. Self-awareness and self-management
    Be in touch with your emotions, but let them manage you.
  6. Balancing feedback versus independence
    Accept and appreciate feedback, but stand steady between being open to feedback versus defending your convictions.
  7. Adaptive
    As you learn, you will change and adjust to that change.
  8. Managing chaos and random probability
    Be resilient to deal forthrightly with chaotic, random circumstances. Embrace the opportunities that arise from adversity.
  9. Norming diversity
    Value differences among your employees.
  10. Vocation
    Find and serve a higher purpose.
  11. Enjoyment
    Sustained performance requires enjoyment. Of course, life will bring ups and downs, but help your team find joy in their work.

“Developing awareness of self and others and then bringing our nonconscious processes to full consciousness is the most challenging aspect of our development as a transpersonal leader.”

Leading Beyond the Ego: How to Become a Transpersonal Leader

Robert Kegan and, later, Jennifer Garvey Berger wrote of five stages of adult development, two based in childhood and adolescence, and three adult transitions. Most people represent a blend, but many stays in the phase of the “socialized” or “traditional” mind: good team players, capable of self-reflection, but constrained by other’s viewpoints.

Those with a self-authoring or modern mind learn from experience, develop independence and leadership ability, and follow their own ideas. Only a few adults achieve the self-transforming or post-modern mind, seeing variations, not just black and white views, and reaching beyond the ego to seek connections with others. They “lead to learn.”

Buy the book to learn more.

The traditional leadership styles of the past are underperforming in a world of continuous transformation. Those that recognise this and learn how to lead beyond their ego will become emotionally intelligent and ethical leaders who are able to build strong, collaborative relationships, and create a caring, sustainable and performance enhancing environment.

Buy the Book



Author: Muhamad Aarif

A notorious book addict by night and an oil and gas executive by day. As Mark Twain said, "The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." So, read, read, and read some more.

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