from my friend tom on personal development

From Crisis to Collective Responsibility:
From my deep friend, Tom..

I have done whole system transformation work for him ..

He led a logistics team for me. The intervention, received national recognition..

He is my spiritual confessor…. For real…

He will be heading up the Asian OD Network Summit in India in a few years.

Just sent my friend to do OD at his college where he is president.


Sorry about the margins.. am just starting my day.. it is 2 am and now must do my yoga.


By Dr. Thomas Thakadipuram

In a world of depressing headlines and challenged organizations, Leadership
Development is recognized as a critical
competency in our global environment.
This article outlines the findings from
my doctoral research in which leaders
discussed their development and
transformation following crises on a
journey toward wholeness. In this study
10 top spiritual leaders shared their
transformational journeys from crises
to collective responsibility in a variety of
organizations across the globe, including
an abbot, abbess, archbishop, a Zulu
chief shaman, founders and presidents
of international spiritual organizations,
and members of the World Council
of Religious Leaders. It is one of few
empirical studies on leaders’ quest for
wholeness and offers the Leadership
Wholeness Model (page 8). The findings
provide a breakthrough in understanding
personal and organizational leadership
within the broader constructs of ethical,
authentic, spiritual, and holistic leadership.
Interior Dynamics
In the study the top leaders’ quests for
wholeness demonstrated both interior
and exterior dynamics as an integrated
whole, depicted in the final model. The
journey toward wholeness involved four
common experiences: crisis, acceptance,
awakening, and co-responsibility. Their
quests for wholeness deeply influenced
how they interacted with followers,
community, and the larger world and
characterized their journey:
All experienced existential crises that
led them to question previously-held
views, values, and perspectives of
life. For example one questioned the
practice of apartheid and advocated
an ethic of tolerance; another

challenged the cult of Rwandan
genocide and became a caretaker
of orphan children of genocide; and
yet another’s experience of major
failures and clinical depression
helped him become an authentic
agent of courageous renewal.
The crucibles of
crises urged them
to look at life with
a new lens as the
old meanings and
patterns were
Crises also led them to a process of
self-acceptance and learning from
past failures and weaknesses in spite
of their tendency to resist and deny.
They dealt with their crises
constructively to break through the
darkness and meaninglessness of
life, experiencing an awakening to a
higher perspective.
The trajectory of the leaders’ journey
was nonlinear, as the four factors
of crisis, acceptance, awakening,
and co-responsibility interplayed
together in a pattern of an infinity
loop and transformational process
of learning and growth.
By engaging in an authentic search with
integrity and honesty, the top spiritual
leaders set new directions for their quest
for wholeness. Consequently, they began
to enhance their sense of deeper self and
discovered their interrelationship with
community and the larger world, thus
experiencing greater harmony. Awakening
to a new purpose and meaning, the
leaders exercised responsibility for their
life and also for the lives of others. A sense

of responsibility and co-responsibility
demonstrated the relationship between
leaders and followers and also between
the community and larger world as an
integrated whole (see model).
Moreover, the four factors of crisis,
acceptance, awakening and
co-responsibility interplay
with one another in an
infinity loop and are rooted
in consciousness at the
center of the leader’s being.
This represents the leaders’
quest for wholeness as
an ongoing natural process in a nonlinear
fashion discovering new meaning
and harmonious relationship with the
community and larger world through crises
and chaos.

Exterior Dynamics
The exterior dynamics contained five
dimensions of co-responsibility for
the leader, followers, community, and
larger world:
The circle of relational trust operates
at the personal and intimate level
between the leader and the inner
circle of his or her team, where each
one had the courage, willingness, and
mutually-assured confidentiality to
be who they were without any mask
or pretensions.
The circle of responsibility is exercised
at the organizational level where the
leader assumes certain roles, duties,
and authority. A sense of values and
ethics guides the leaders to exercise
the responsibility with utmost care.
The findings provide
a breakthrough in
understanding personal and
organizational leadership
within the broader constructs
of ethical, authentic, spiritual,
and holistic leadership.
Minnesota Organization Development Network (MNODN) December 2009 • Volume 24 • Number 4
The circle of influence indicates the impact the leaders are able to make on society by their presence, creative activities, and persuasion. Similarly, Covey (1989) identified the “circle of influence”, where the leader impacts the lives of others by the witness of their own life and activities, and “circle of concern”, where leaders show sympathy about issues, but without having the ability to do anything about it (p. 83).
The circle of compassion indicates the leader’s concern and involvement about global issues, especially for the most vulnerable and deprived sentient beings (including humans, animals, and other beings). These leaders expanded their circle of compassion globally, having helpful service activities to uplift the weak.
The circle of solidarity points out the interest and involvement of the leaders in environmental and sustainability issues of development and progress. Leaders expressed solidarity, mostly for issues of peace and justice, establishing organizations and networks for wider cooperation. As we live in an interdependent and interconnected world, these leaders understood the need for global cooperation in a spirit of solidarity, eliminating unbridled greed and unhealthy competition to tackle global issues and advance world benefit reducing world misery (Maak, 2007).

The quest for wholeness was expressed in these practical ways of co-responsibility and global initiatives from many of the top leaders. They nurtured the notion of the family of humanity and the earth as one common roof under which everyone belongs, and everything is connected to everything else. Moving through the processes of crisis, acceptance, and awakening, the quest flow culminated in the realization of an ethic of co-responsibility toward community and the larger world, flowing from their sense of values and obligation to the whole universe as they became aware of the deep connection between the individual self and the universal or cosmic self. This enlightened awareness was the platform from which their sense of collective responsibility and solidarity emerged.

Implications For OD
What are the key implications for OD practitioners and leaders?
This model of wholeness should help leaders engage in self-reflection, journaling, and personal leadership development practices.
Using the Leadership Wholeness Model will be helpful for mentoring and coaching to develop high-potential and high-performing leaders and clients with a holistic approach to organization development.
The essential themes are not only applicable for top leaders, but can also be used at all management and employee levels for training and development. This will help develop a conscious culture and environment at different levels of organizations with a broader collaborative focus promoting authentic engagement, diversity, creativity, and participation.

A Model of Leadership Wholeness

Leaders’ quests for wholeness emphasize the importance of learning from crises, acceptance, awakening, and responsibility while recognizing interconnectedness among personal, organizational, social, and environmental dimensions of life.
Minnesota Organization Development Network (MNODN) December 2009 • Volume 24 • Number 4
Hailing from the spice coast of India, Kerala, Thomas Thakadipuram finished his graduate studies in Philosophy and Psychology from University of Madras. Recently he finished the doctoral program in OD at the University of St.Thomas, Minneapolis, USA. His area of focus in OD is leadership development, whole-system change, cross cultural team effectiveness and International OD. He is also part of the planning team for Asian OD network and a member of MNOD Network. Currently he is leading St. Claret College in Bangalore. He can be reached at; website:

One Response to “from my friend tom on personal development”

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