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On The Table Read, “The Best Book Reader Magazine in the UK“, Nicholas Janni talks about his new book, Leader As Healer, and what inspired him to write it.

JJ Barnes editor of The Table Read online creativity, arts and entertainment magazine

Written by JJ Barnes

I interviewed author Nicholas Janni about his life and career, what inspired him to start writing, and the work that went into his book, Leader As Healer.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

I’m a leadership consultant with a focus on deep presence. My work bridges the worlds of professional, personal and spiritual development in a powerful, relevant and accessible way.

I’m one of the growing number of global thought leaders calling for a rewriting – a new paradigm of leadership – to meet the urgency of our times. A paradigm in which we recognise how dangerously disconnected we have become, rewire the balance between doing and being, and bring all of ourselves to the table.

Nicholas Janni, author of Leader As Healer, on The Table Read
Nicholas Janni

I mentor CEOs and senior leadership teams worldwide on reaching advanced levels of consciousness and effectiveness, and also teach at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School and the IMD Business School in Switzerland.

My latest book, Leader as Healer, was published in March. It’s a guide to reaching the highest levels of presence and performance. Modern leaders need to break from the normalised and chronically imbalanced ways of thinking and functioning, in which rational thinking dominates, leaving no room for feeling, sensing and intuiting.

I have delivered programmes for CEOs across the world on this very concept. Recent clients include Eugene Woods of Atrium Health and Michelle McMurry-Heath of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. Previous clients have included Anglo American, Fedex, Microsoft, Rolls Royce, Lafarge, the NHS and the UK permanent secretaries.

Before becoming a leadership consultant 20 years ago, I directed my own theatre company and taught at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. In 1997, I was also part of the company which opened the reconstructed Globe Theatre in London.

When did you first WANT to write a book?

Back in 2018, after the term “Leader as Healer” wouldn’t leave me alone – and friends and colleagues urged me to write about it.

How long did it take you to complete your book from the first idea to release?

Three years: I started to write Leader as Healer back in 2019, after that term first came to me.

I had no idea when I started how long it would take me.

At that point, I could not have imagined the pandemic – and even less so the horrors currently unfolding in Ukraine.

The world is shaking. “Business as usual” is no longer an option. Three years on from when I started writing, my prayer is that the book will serve as both the fiercest of clarion calls and the gentlest of whispers – reminding us all of the journey home, supporting the courage to face and heal our fragmentation and absence, and stimulating the awakening of leaders in all domains to walk in the world with presence, connection and the highest levels of intelligence and wisdom.

What made you want to write Leader As Healer?

In all the corporate individuals and groups I work with, I meet one universal factor – an over-identification with thinking, and disconnection from feeling, sensing, intuiting and the transpersonal. This has been normalised, and the great irony is that it actually decreases the quality of our critical thinking.

This is a book about the highest levels of presence and peak performance leadership, and the cultures that ensue from them, in which well-being, results and contribution to the world are naturally interwoven.

It is above all a call to break from the chronically imbalanced ways of thinking and functioning that have become the norm in so many corporate cultures, where doing eclipses being, and hyper-rational, analytical thinking relegates feeling, sensing, intuiting and the transpersonal to the outer fringes of life.

I believe that the failure to correct this imbalance is severely detrimental not only to individual and organisational performance, but to our capacity for creating healthy, thriving futures.

Leader As Healer, Nicholas Janni, interview on The Table Read
Leader As Healer

What were your biggest challenges with writing Leader As Healer?

Very simply, that I am a far better speaker than I am a writer!

What was your research process for Leader As Healer?

Mostly based on the hundreds of leaders and teams I have worked with over the last 20 years.

How did you plan the structure of Leader As Healer?

It more or less follows the key components of the leadership programmes I run for organisations, and at the Saïd and IMD business schools.

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Leader As Healer need?

I wrote the book without help, and then employed the services of a brilliant editor who worked with me to refine the language in each chapter, while fully retaining my “voice”.

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?

A very dear writer friend once told me: “Read every sentence you write out loud to yourself.” I have found this to be invaluable. It tells me immediately when I am being too verbose.

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

I will be taking a break from a solo written book!

But projects under discussion include:

  • A contribution to a book by Bob Anderson, founder of The Leadership Circle, about the next stage of leadership development, which he calls “Integral – Informed by Unity”
  • A co-authored book with Dr Andrew White, from the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, on what he calls “Leadership 2050”

And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

It has been a long journey, involving hundreds of hours, inspiration, frustration, everything any such project in any domain involves.

I am happy to say that I am very proud indeed of how the book has turned out, and feel deeply affirmed and heartened by the response it has already generated.

It is clear that its messages are more relevant and urgently needed than ever.

I am very grateful to LID Publishing for its skill in the layout of the book. People have told me how well the photos in the book serve, how the combination of those visuals, with the short text extracts, naturally slow us down, before diving into the main text.

Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:

You can buy Leader as Healer here:

You can keep up to date with my work on my website:

And you can follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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