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The Way to Enlightened Leadership

When I woke up this morning, the idea of enlightenment and leadership ran through my head. As I processed this, my memory went back to the accomplished leaders that I had the good fortune of being associated with. Many of them are enlightened leaders.

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Let's consider Terry. As a young Senior Vice President in his late 20s, he oversaw a department of approximately seventeen people, with three vice presidents under him responsible for various pivotal functions. Beyond that, he had a team of about six or seven people on the trade desk in a business that he initiated within Bankers Trust, a leading merchant banking enterprise on Wall Street that has since been acquired and merged. This was the company I’d been involved in back in the eighties, where I was doing accounting for multibillion dollar securities lending transactions. I was so fascinated with the fact that this young guy had engendered such influence, trust, and respect as he ran a profit center for a renowned financial institution.

One Friday afternoon, as I was figuring out how to establish myself at the tender age of twenty-seven, I worked up the courage to talk to him. Even though I was just a few years shy of him, I felt somewhat intimidated by him. It was the end of the day on Friday, I caught his attention and we exchanged a few pleasantries. Then I said,

“Terry, I’m curious. How do you explain starting this securities lending department?” He casually shared with me that he had the idea when he worked in Chicago for Northern Trust and got the sense there was an opportunity to do something of this nature. That’s when he proposed the idea to Bankers Trust, and they accepted it.

I went on to ask, “With all this responsibility and the significant issues that could arise, how do you remain so calm?” To which he replied,

“I practice meditation. I’m a Buddhist and it’s my nature to be calm, breathe, and strive to be centered in all that I do.”

We went on talking for about forty minutes and I was fascinated. Here was a young guy in his late twenties, who’d thoughtfully and calmly shot up the ranks, in the hyperactive environment of Wall Street. A place where many people were moving fast, talking fast, wound up on caffeine, drugs, and myriad substances, striving to stay alert as they fought their way up the corporate ladder.

Yet here he was, very calm and steadfast. No hurry. Willing to just be in the moment, to connect with me, this junior member of his team who was by no means high profile. Still, I was important enough for him to take the time to engage with me and share his story. But he also inquired and listened. He wanted to know my story, my journey, and was sincerely curious about the various aspects of my life with no judgment or regard to where I fit in the hierarchical structure of the organization.

Because of his practice of being present, listening, asking questions, being sincere, and keenly interested in learning, he’d garnered respect. He stood out in the see of fast movers. I’m sure that was a significant aspect of how he’d built his success. He was liked, trusted, well-received, and that’s why he was able to lead so successfully. His department was the envy of many, admired by leaders and pursued by applicants.

To this very day, I believe it is because of his approach of being an enlightened leader, connecting with people on a fundamental human level, that Terry soared to early success. Terry was, and still is, a light and a beacon, attracting people and enabling others to bring their very best to all that they do.

Renwick Brutus' career has spanned roles as research economist, investment advisor, entrepreneur and consultant. He holds an MBA from Fordham University and has been recognized for his outstanding achievement in sales and business leadership. Today, Renwick applies his unique blend of business strategy and interpersonal skills to help individuals prosper and companies grow. He is actively engaged as an entrepreneur, advisor and executive coach to business leaders. Contact him by email and LinkedIn .

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1 Comment

Richard Lewine
Richard Lewine
Nov 16, 2022

A interesting way to wake up, Renwick. I can not say that I have awakened with enlightenment on my mind, however, I may try it.

Just today, I began doing a 5 minute gratitude meditation as I sat at my computer waiting

for a reply to a request to reschedule a meeting. Calm prevailed, rather than anxiety over possible ramifications. All went well.

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