Academic journal article Advances in Management

Integral Leadership through Entrainment: Synchronizing Consciousness

Academic journal article Advances in Management

Integral Leadership through Entrainment: Synchronizing Consciousness

Article excerpt


This paper argues that leadership is an integral system and that its components separately do not have the properties of leadership as a whole. To study leadership in an integral way, the concept of consciousness is explained as the core aspect of determining its components. Next, the concept of entrainment is introduced to support and enrich the interconnectedness of the multi-dimensional nature of consciousness. Entrainment refers to the synchronization process within a person or in relationship to his environment. Four modes of entrainment are identified. Inner symmetric or self-entrainment focuses on the harmonious interaction within the body or organisation while outer symmetric entrainment focuses on the interaction between them The third and fourth modes are the inner and outer asymmetric entrainment. These modes describe the phenomenon of entrainment with the environment.

As a result, Integral Leadership can be seen as a complex interaction of inner and outer harmonization of consciousness through entrainment. If a leader intentionally integrates spiritual techniques and values, then he intentionally fosters harmonization of his consciousness. This means, he reaches an increased quality of interconnectedness between his levels of consciousness. Entrainment will alter the leader's consciousness, hence, he will be able to perceive and able to attune to other rhythms in his environment. This can eventually lead to group resonance through which collective consciousness emerges resulting in higher organisational output.

Keywords: Leadership, integral theory, entrainment, consciousness, spirituality.


The academic literature on leadership can be categorized in two groups. First, leadership is by compliance and obedience whereby employees' performance is driven by negative or survival motivations. Second, leadership is by inspiration and upliftment where the individual is inspired to become self-actualizing, driven by genuine ideals and values in achieving the goals of the organization. It is assumed that an integral approach to leadership by synthesizing both perspectives has more impact on the well-being and performance of the employees, the leader and the organization as whole and even other stakeholders involved such as customers and suppliers of services and goods39.

The term 'integral' was introduced by Sri Aurobindo49'51 to describe the multi-dimensional nature of consciousness comprising mainly the physical, vital (emotions, desires, cravings), mental and psychic (soul) levels of consciousness. Integral approach seeks to develop a holistic view in order to understand all the levels and the underlying oneness (the spiritual) in which everything participates. While integral theory can be explored through reading or attending lectures, it goes way beyond a conceptual way of knowing that consciousness is multidimensional. This aspect can only be grasped through direct, inner experience which leads to perception and then realization of our inner spark, a view that could not be found in traditional perspectives towards phenomenon, as usually a phenomenon is being studied in isolation and from a purely material, observable and positivistic scientific perspective.

A whole is more than the sum of its parts; a whole has qualities which are independent and different from the properties of its parts18, ' 47. Systems can generate new qualities of a leader which are not typical for any of its component. By dividing a system into its components and analysing each of them, it is impossible to foresee the peculiarities of the whole system40. That is the reason why by dividing leadership into its components and analysing them separately, it is impossible to disclose its matter.

Perceiving, treating and studying leadership in an integral way require two tasks: (1) determine the components of leadership; (2) research and reveal the character of links among its components and show in what way they function together as a whole48. …

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