I recently awoke to a pleasant surprise in my e-mail. I’ve been included on a list of the world’s "top 30 most influential leadership gurus." I am especially honored to be in the company of leaders that I’ve learned so much from, such as Warren Bennis, Tom Peters, Ken Blanchard, Jim Collins, Stephen Covey, Marshall Goldsmith, and Rosabeth Moss Kanter. It brings to mind the words of English philosopher and mathematician, Issac Newton, "If I have been able to see further than others, it’s because I have stood on the shoulders of giants."

Jim Clemmer voted Top 30 Leadership Gurus

Top 30 Most Influential Leadership Gurus

You can see the full list at Top 30 World’s Leadership Professionals for 2011. Here’s part of the criteria for compiling the list:

"Our research came from e-mails sent to 22,000 business people, consultants, academics and MBA’s around the world for nominations and our public opinion poll. We shortlisted 60 names then did a Google search for ranking.

The criteria for judging the TOP 30 focused on: Originality of ideas, practicality of ideas, presentation style, international outlook, impact of ideas, quality of publications and writings, dispersion of publications and writings, public opinion, and guru factor."

So I got to thinking, what exactly is a "guru?" My research showed that the origins, meaning, and use of the word are quite varied. Most early references to "guru" are in Indian religions. The Upanishads (philosophical texts that were the early source of Hinduism) composed the word from gu meaning shadow or darkness and ru signifying a disperser of darkness. So a guru is a wise and knowledgeable spiritual guide who helps to disperse the darkness.

In the today’s realm of personal, team, and organizational leadership a "darkness disperser" is pretty appealing description for what I see as my life work. I won’t be putting that term in my signature line, but I do aspire to help shine the light of optimism, emotional intelligence, personal growth, team development, organization effectiveness, and unleashing human potential at home and at work.

My research also uncovered the concept of "the inner guru." This is our often unconscious and intuitive source of infinite strength, wisdom, illumination, guidance, and happiness. It’s our inner voice. Finding and listening to our inner voice is key to dispersing the darkness of pessimism, fear, and worry that cause us so much stress and to lose sight of our path.

We can look to others who we might even call gurus for insights, experience, and guidance. But we need to find and develop our inner guru for lasting personal, team, and organizational success. So I could reword my life purpose as helping individuals, teams, and organizations continuously develop their inner guru. Now there’s a signature line!