Drive the team engine

Corporate Sufi offers valuable lessons on team engagement

Team of employees

You can set your goals using your own innate gift. However, you will need the support of others to realise your dreams. Great success is usually achieved through team effort. Engaging others enables everyone to feel valued while contributing effectively.

Lack of engagement of key employees and lack of alignment, leading to loss of potential and power of these individuals, are debilitating problems.

During a strategic planning session at a retreat for one of our clients, an executive from the finance department commented on how useful the session was for him. He said that in all the years he had worked for the organisation, all he was exposed to was finance. But the session gave him a view of the big picture and facilitated better understanding of the business as a whole.

For another client, the strategic planning exercise helped the team focus on key priorities and execution. Prior to this they were ’all over the board’, with no sense of focus or direction. The exercise helped them strengthen their marketing ideas and resolve. They were able to identify methods of expanding their business and reaching new clients.

While doing a strategic planning exercise, you will sometimes find personality clashes creeping in, when people try to protect their turf and ensure their priorities take precedence over those of others. When this happens, revisit the shared vision.

Capacity building begins with engagement of the team. The more engaged people are, the more they will understand, contribute and tap into their creativity and innovation. You can then expect them to take initiative and share ’outside the box‘ ideas. If you fail to engage them, they will be passive staff waiting for instructions before they commit to anything.

Alignment among teams

A corporation can set goals that are aligned to its brand. However, if there is no alignment between the top, middle and ’floor‘ teams, the results will not be optimal.

One of the things I have noticed across the world in different corporations is the lack of alignment between top management, middle management and the “floor staff.”

For example, I had two full-day sessions with the top management of a reputable bank. It was great—they were enthusiastic, energetic and buoyant. I was impressed.

Around the same time, I had dinner meeting with another client. She shared with me an incident involving poor customer service that she experienced in the same bank where I had just finished my sessions. I was surprised that the negative encounter had taken place with a teller, but as I reflected on the previous two days’ sessions, it was clear to me that while the bank’s top management was doing great, morale on the floor was low. This was costing the client in terms of reputation and credibility.

Alignment of all levels is crucial for achieving optimal results.

In some companies, you find the CEO sprinting far ahead, while middle management constantly tries to catch up and the rest of the team is left in the dark. These are not ideal conditions for success. It is important to fully engage the middle management and the rest of the team.

In other companies, I have noticed that inter-department synergy is missing. It is almost as if each department is an organisation in itself and not connected to the other departments.

Alignment among personal and professional

Aligning personal, family and corporate missions also enhances your ability to implement your innate gift as well as inspiring others around to do the same. Encouraging your family members to find their innate gifts by creating an environment in which they get a chance to find their passion is a wonderful gift you can give to them. One of our clients hired us to help him and his family create a family vision and mission. After a few meetings with the couple and their two children, they came up with the following mission:

Our family displays unconditional love and trust. TRUST is an acronym for:

T: Trusting that all four of us mean well and wish the family to be a place of love and growth.

R: Respecting one another at all times no matter what the circumstances.

U: Understanding each other’s needs.

S: Supporting one another at all times.

T: Time management so that we can achieve optimum use of our limited time.

It was an exhilarating exercise, and the children felt empowered and important to be part of it. Their problems did not just evaporate after the exercise. That would be too good to be true. However, the family is better equipped to deal with the problems now that they have a clear vision of what they want.

A family mission statement is a powerful way to invite clarity and unity in the family, just as clarity of a company’s mission creates motivation and focus for employees. Both can be aligned to your innate gift and greater purpose.

Alignment of ethics and principles

“It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience, but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience”.
—Henry David Thoreau

Without principles you cannot sustain and leverage your gifts. Once you are grounded in principles, they become your foundation. They do not change with the tide even though everything else changes around you. Your principles remain intact and are the anchor of your ship.

Jimmy Carter said, “When I left the White House, I was in despair. I think everybody has to be prepared in life for failures or disappointments or frustrated dreams or even embarrassments. You have to accommodate changing times but cling to unchanging principles. If you do have an extreme change in your life that is unpleasant, what are the principles that don’t change on which you can build a new life, a better life, a more adventurous life?”

This was a president who grew up in an isolated town of only few hundred people. No one in his family had finished high school, yet he studied nuclear physics, entered politics and became the 39th president of the United States.

Without a compass for truth, the external success is short-lived and does not help you to tap into your innate gift. The Corporate Sufi strives for material abundance, but not at the expense of principles, ethics and values.

Diversity as strength

A company is like an orchestra. It can have diverse players with different instruments or gifts, but they all need to synchronize to the same tune. Harmony would be impossible were it not for the contribution of all the players. An effective leader is able to harness the individual talents into a unified force. This happens through creating a common or shared vision, knowing the individual strengths and valuing the diversity.

Everyone has a gift and we all bring different gifts to the world. A good leader is able to capitalise on this. Diversity is an opportunity to harness creativity instead of being a source of frustration.

Discover your innate gifts

Your innate gifts are not outside you, but within you. You are the source.

What is the source of unease and unhappiness? For some, the basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, health and education cause unease and unhappiness. Yet for many it is the self—selfishness, self-centeredness and ego—that causes these feelings.

What is the source of peace and tranquillity? It is the self—selflessness, self-discipline and self-mastery. You are your own master and your own slave. You are your own source of happiness and your own source
of misery.

Conquer your lower self and you open the door to peace, happiness and bliss. Ultimately, the buck stops with you, for you and none other are the source. Find your innate gift and use it to make the world a better place. There is nothing more important that you will do in your life.


  • You are a miracle endowed with great gifts. No one is like you.
  • Find your innate gift through meditation, authenticity and exploring your natural abilities; it can lead you to be a genius.
  • Live an authentic life by being true to yourself.
  • Know your personal and corporate brand.
  • Be clear about your mission and vision to invite clarity and focus.
  • Share your vision; it creates a buy-in from everyone involved.
  • Do not underestimate other people’s capabilities. Engage your team by fully tapping into their innate gifts.
  • Align different departments of your orgnisation and different parts of your lives to create harmony.
  • Be grounded in ethics and principles.
  • Know that diversity of gifts is strength.
  • You are the source of your innate gifts, your happiness as well as your sorrows.

Begin being a Corporate Sufi

  • Articulate your life purpose and keep fine-tuning it until you feel satisfied.
  • Imagine you won a $40-million lottery. What kind of work would you do?
  • Write a daily journal about things you learn about yourself.
  • Practise meditation or quiet time for 20 minutes for three to five days a week, ideally first thing in the morning.
  • Imagine being on your deathbed. What would you like your eulogy to say?
  • Explore what makes you different and articulate your personal brand. Explore what makes your company different and articulate your unique selling proposition and strategy statement.
  • Shine your light and inspire others to shine their light.

A version of this was first published in the July 2012 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

Magnifying lens over an exclamation markSpot an error in this article? A typo maybe? Or an incorrect source? Let us know!

Azim Jamal
Azim Jamal is the founder of Corporate Sufi Worldwide, a company dedicated to inspiring leaders to achieve material success, blended with a deep sense of purpose, passion and happiness. Azim is the author of several highly-acclaimed books and has conducted high-level coaching assignments with billion-dollar corporations. His inspiring message has been heard live by over 1,000,000 people in 30 countries.


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