Deepak Chopra Sounds Off on Wall Street

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Before investing in a company's stock, Wall Street investors may want to peer into the soul of its chief executive officer, says best-selling author Deepak Chopra.

TheStreet spoke with Chopra about his new book, The Soul of Leadership, his favorite CEOs and the bad karma that helped cause the financial crisis.

Deepak Chopra
Deepak Chopra

What do you mean by the "soul" of leadership?

Chopra: The soul of leadership is a form of leadership that looks at meaning, context, story-telling and relationships. But most importantly, it uses insight, intuition, creativity and conscious choice-making to make decisions.

There are a lot of different ways to lead. Which is the most effective, in your view?

Chopra: People look for four things most frequently from their leaders: hope, trust, compassion and stability. If you have those four characteristics, you are on your way to being a good leader. That said, more effective leaders ask themselves deeper questions such as "what am I observing?," "what am I feeling?" and "what's the unmet need and how do I most creatively fulfill that need?"

Is there a CEO of a public company today who is a good leader for other managers to emulate?

Chopra:Yes, George Zimmer, the CEO of Men's Wearhouse ( MW), sets a good example. George is the leader I speak of in this book because he inspires his employees. He inspires his managers. He is constantly taking feedback. He declares his values and asks people whether he is living up to his values. I am very proud to be a board member of this company.

What about the founders of Google (GOOG) and their "don't be evil" approach to doing business?

Chopra: They are exemplary leaders. They have the capacity to do a lot of good with the reach that they have. And the reach that Linked-In has with their CEO, Jeff Weiner. And the reach that all these networks have. And if they work together, then they can influence the behavior in the world in a way that is extraordinary. So I think they are using technology wisely. Technology can be used diabolically too. But we can use it to heal the world and bring wealth to those who are deprived. So I think these guys are on a sure path, whether they know it or not, towards a more peaceful world.

Was the financial crisis a problem with leadership or was it purely systemic

Chopra: The financial crisis was a problem with leadership and it was systemic as well. The problem with leadership was that power-hungry people on Wall Street got into cronyism, corruption, influence-peddling and greed. That is karmic, and there is no karmic debt that ever goes unpaid. The systemic problem is that a lot of our economy is built on speculation. Of the $2.2 trillion that circulates in the world's markets, less than 2% actually provides goods and services. The rest is a casino.

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