Strong leadership is pivotal to having success, without it, failure is inevitable.

There are many types of leadership styles that each have their own specific benefits and cons.

For example, you have leaders that rule through fear, and while that may give them control, that style of leadership causes resentment and disconnect amongst their people.

The most powerful kind of leader is an Enlightened Leader.

Gina Gardiner, is a professional at developing enlightened leaders and she has been doing so for more than 30 years.

Over the course of her career she has groomed leaders from grade school to corporate executives. 

Gina Gardiner Enlightened Leadership Executive

Gina served as Principal of Parklands School for over 20 years , one of the U.K.’s Top 100 Schools, and so hundreds of children have passed through her hallways. After transitioning out of the school system Gina moved into industries like finance, human resources, local government, medical, manufacturing, hospitality, etc. teaching these principles of Enlightened Leadership to her executive clients.

You might ask yourself, “What is an Enlightened Leader?” and “What Characteristics Do Enlightened Leaders Have in Common?”.

These are great questions.  

As the founder of Leave Normal Behind, I am always connecting with individuals who are becoming the best version of themselves, giving back, creating things that matter, loving others, and encouraging others to do the same.

Gina is someone who is “Above Normal” because she has the combination of talent, expertise, and purpose to help and inspire others with her knowledge.

Gina Gardiner, Principal of Parklands School

Below I share the 15 Characteristics of an Enlightened Leader that I learned from speaking with Gina.


1. They know themselves (both their strengths and areas for development)

Reflection is an integral part of their approach. Enlightened leaders are able to see beyond their ego to observe their strengths and improve their weaknesses.  They give themselves (and others) credit for their strengths and acknowledge areas for development. 

2. They demonstrate high levels of Emotional Intelligence

Enlightened Leaders have high levels of Emotional Intelligence and Social Awareness which means they:

  • Understand the impact of their mood on others and manage their mood appropriately
  • Have self- control to manage their anger, frustration effectively and appropriately
  • Create and sustain effective relationships even when things are challenging
  • Show empathy to others
  • Demonstrate high levels of integrity – they do what is right rather than what is easy and decisions are based on high moral values
  • Demonstrate trustworthiness, fairness and even handedness

3. They show great vision

Enlightened leaders have a clear vision and communicate their vision effectively to all those involved. 

They have a strong sense of “WHY” the vision is important and they imbue their team with a sense of ownership of that vision and the confidence to help deliver it.

This is particularly important in times of turbulence and change.  Enlightened leaders inspire confidence in those they lead, and there is a high-level of trust that the enlightened leader will find a positive way forward no matter the circumstance. 

4. They demonstrate positive moral values

Enlightened Leaders demonstrate positive moral values in their actions. Their positive character manifests in the “real-world” as good deeds. In order to demonstrate positive moral values, your actions must be moral. As Aristotle says, “it’s not enough just to ‘know’ how to be ‘good’. ‘Good’ must manifest in your actions.

Enlightened Leaders wish to leave a positive legacy that supports the development and growth of others.  Their leadership is based on care and compassion rather than on fear and lack.

5. They plan strategically

Enlightened Leaders avoid mistakes through strategic planning.  A lack of strategic planning leads to the team being constantly under pressure because they are in fire-fighting mode.  Below is a checklist to support strategic planning:

  • There is a clear, shared understanding why the project is being undertaken
  •  There are clear criteria for success
  • The success criteria are identified and understood right from the outset
  • The team are chosen ensuring they have the necessary experience and expertise
  • Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined
  • Training and support are provided as necessary
  • The process for monitoring and review are created and agreed
  • Communication to the staff involved and other stakeholders is clear, explicit, shared and understood 
  • Adequate resources including finance, time, space, specialist expertise etc are identified and available
  • Appropriate support is planned throughout the project?  By whom and when?
  • Levels of authority and autonomy are clearly defined, appropriate and understood by all
  • Contingency plans are in place

6. They are flexible and creative

Of course, there are times when circumstances leave little time for strategic planning or there is a lack of experienced staff or resources are in short supply.  It is here that the quality of enlightened leadership becomes even more imperative.

It is far easier to be a great leader when things are going well, it is when the chips are down and you are fighting against the tide that enlightened leaders show their mettle.

Lack of enlightened leadership in difficult situations creates high levels of stress and anxiety across the board.  It leads to many problems which run deep and can destroy any chance of lasting success and is incredibly detrimental to health and wellbeing.

7. They communicate effectively

At the heart of enlightened leadership is highly effective communication.  Enlightened leaders are skilled in active listening, understand the power of language and know how to use it to positive effect.  Their non-verbal communications match what is said.  

They are skilled at interpreting the language of others including the sub-text.  

Gina Gardiner guest on the “Morning Blend”

All communications – non-verbal, verbal, written and graphic are professional and measured and designed to be supportive and developmental.

Other’s opinions and ideas are valued, there is a culture of sharing for the common good.

There is a healthy level of professional dialogue, the difficult conversations are undertaken in a constructive and professional way.

8. They are prepared to challenge their perspective of events and their interpretation of others motives

Seeing things from the perspective of others is essential to enlightened leadership. Enlightened leaders recognise that perspective becomes our reality and that it is important to challenge themselves to ensure that their perspective is not biased by their own human experience.

They recognise that what people say and do can be interpreted in a number of ways and so Enlightened Leaders are mindful about not jumping to conclusions.

They measure their approach based on a balanced review of the evidence available and adjust in the light of new information.

9. They motivate others

They understand what motivates themselves and others so they are able to create a sense of ownership and enthusiasm even when things are tough. 

Enlightened Leaders expect much of themselves and others and so being able to motivate in a positive, healthy way is beneficial.

10. They are passionate about what they do

Enlightened leaders are passionate about what they do. They are able to translate their passion and help others engage fulsomely into delivering the vision.

11. They make effective decisions

Enlightened leaders are effective decision makers.

They take the available information into consideration and make balanced, informed decisions in a timely way.

They are prepared to take other’s views into account when making decisions which enables them to see things from multiple perspectives.

Decisions are reviewed in a measured way as new information becomes available.  At the end of the process a review is undertaken to look for any lessons and evaluate performance to make things more effective and efficient.

12. They create a culture of ownership & development rather than blame

Enlightened leaders support the development of their team.  There is an ongoing desire to find ways to improve and enhance performance.  Staff are expected to take responsibility for their own performance and a shared responsibility to help develop their colleagues.

If someone makes a mistake it is seen as a learning opportunity.  However, where no learning takes place, people are held to account appropriately and professionally.

Enlightened leaders delegate effectively and hold people accountable in a constructive way.

13. They accept others and act as a great role model

Enlightened leaders act as a good role model for their team.  They lead by example which inspires others to do the same.

They accept others and embrace difference and diversity, always looking for the best person for the job no matter their background, ethnicity, sexuality, age or physicality.

They inspire loyalty because they treat everyone with respect and professionalism.  They are fair and even-handed in all their dealings with people.  Relationships are built on trust and integrity. They avoid gossip and do not use sarcasm. 

They value each individual for what they bring to the team.  They give credit for any contribution offered and give fulsome praise whenever it is warranted.

14. They accept their power as spiritual beings

Enlightened leaders have a strong sense of purpose. They understand that they are on a spiritual journey, they have the confidence to know themselves and whilst they accept that they are ‘enough,’ they recognise that life is a learning experience.  They are keen to access their inner wisdom and intuition and create the space to do so.  They lead from a place of love – not fear.

They strive to be the best version of themselves they can be and are ready to support others in doing the same.  They appreciate the power of coming from a place of service and wish to make a positive difference.

15. They develop effective self – organizing teams

Enlightened leaders recognise that creating the conditions to support and develop a thinking, self-organizing team has significant benefits.  They have the capacity to choose the right people, create and share explicit expectations, offer positive support and create the necessary working environment for people to develop the confidence, skills and motivation which underpin effective self-organisation.  The result is highly motivated, well informed staff who can work under pressure, think for themselves and act within the agreed parameters to achieve the goals which have been set. 


Implement these 15 Characteristics of Enlightened Leadership as quickly as you can. If you do so, you will experience the benefits of being an Enlightened Leader. This style of leadership is best because you are able to earn the respect of others, without sacrificing your dignity in the process. This style of leadership enables you to lead with love and achieve greater levels of productivity and profit whilst enhancing relationships, minimising conflict, improving wellbeing and work life balance for all involved. 

Working with professionals like Gina will make sure that you have the knowledge and accountability required to upgrade. 

Over her three decades of work Gina has used these Enlightened Leadership characteristics to help her clients work better together, operate more effectively, and optimize business resulting in millions of dollars in revenue, hundreds of hours saved, and a better work environment.

This upgrade does not happen overnight and will take time and effort.

Do yourself the favor and start now, you will be happy that you did.

As you become an Enlightened Leader you will experience the positive benefits in your life and business right away.

If you, or anyone you know, is leaving normal behind and deserves to be featured then please email me at [email protected]