Awakening A Leader’s Soul
Reviewed By: Avraham Azrieli
Avraham Azrieli's most recent novel is "Deborah Rising" (HarperColllins 2016), the story of the first woman to lead a nation in history.

Awakening A Leader’s Soul: Learnings Through Immortal Poems by Gaurav Bhalla, Ph.D. is unique business leadership book that bypasses the usual offerings of practical business advice and decision-making skills in favor of centering on the leader’s humanity and, by extension, taking readers on a fascinating journey of self-discovery and deeper awareness.

Author Gaurav Bhalla, Ph.D., whose novel The Curse and the Cup was reviewed here previously, achieves a remarkable level of thought-provoking originality with Awakening A Leader’s Soul, which mines the inner world of readers with a guided exploration of one’s true self—not a common subject in management seminars curricula.

The book introduces itself (and the theme of Soulful Leadership) appropriately with the words of T. S. Eliot (from Four Quartets: Little Gidding):

“We shall not cease from exploration

and the end of all our exploring will be

to arrive where we started and know

the place for the first time.”

From there, the book encourages the reader to uncover “who” he/she is (one’s ego, self-reliance/independence, and authenticity). “Not I, not anyone else can travel that road for you, You must travel it for yourself.” (Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself ”) Follows is an examination of the leader’s inclinations – the ability and manner of thinking and acting with the common challenges facing a leader (risks, perseverance, and perspective). “The person who asks a question is ignorant for a few moments, the person who doesn’t remains ignorant for life.” (Confucius) Then come the leader’s human interaction spheres (employees and customers, community circles, and the world at large). “No man is an island, Entire of itself.” (John Donne)

For anyone reading today’s news headlines, the author’s audacious leap of unconventional spirit in this book could not be more timely. Take this aptly said paragraph, for example: “The book began with the Prologue extending a simple invitation to readers to explore the world of Soulful Leadership with the help of a different set of teachers, the sagely world of immortal poems. The motivation for extending that invitation stems from an unshakable conviction that the worldviews and behaviors of many of today’s leaders are inadequate to meet what’s required for the wellbeing and prosperity of the disparate and conflicting constituencies of today’s complex world.” How true!

The book is further enriched with poignant, classic poems, embellished with introspective quotations from paradigm-shifting thinkers, and interspersed with artistic illustrations. It makes for a wonderful read, provokes deep introspection, and occasionally rises to soaring heights of insight, discernment, and prose. As the author wisely concludes: “Like the tale of the Good Samaritan, all that matters is that we ask ourselves, “Can we afford not to embrace the ideas and practice of soulful leadership?””

In summary, Awakening A Leader’s Soul: Learnings Through Immortal Poems by Gaurav Bhalla, Ph.D. is an absorbing book of timeless wisdom, human inquiry, and substantive personal growth. Compounding the benefits of the book’s wonderful examination of human leadership in its deepest levels, the author does not shy away from pointing the reader toward illuminating pathways to self-improvement that would be unquestionably beneficial—truly a multi-tiered gift that can change one’s quality of existence with a healthier, happier, and more successful future. This is an excellent, life-changing book for anyone seeking the true essence of great leadership. Highly recommended! – Avraham Azrieli,