Conscious leadership and mindfulness have become buzzwords. Yet being “conscious” is not just about being mindfully present.
Many identify consciousness as though it’s an elite state, as though when you have achieved this state you have “arrived” at the destination—a prestige that only a few can achieve and attain. However, this belief is limiting and counter-intuitive to what conscious leadership really is.
The era of “left brain” dominance and the information age that it engendered are giving way to a new world, a new paradigm in which “right brain” qualities: compassion, empathy, creativity, self-awareness and seeking a deeper meaning predominate. This is the essence of conscious leadership. We are already within this paradigm shift.
Conscious leaders have an opportunity and can now mentor, develop and inspire people to achieve great things in business, personally and for humanity.
What is Conscious Leadership?
Conscious leadership is about inspiring the best in people. They aim to build unity and have a purpose bigger than themselves or their business objectives. Conscious leaders recognize the individual, putting people, profit, and planet within the same paradigm. However, it goes beyond CEOs, executives, visionaries entrepreneurs. It is for everyone who wants the best in life and wants this “best” to be expressed in the world to be of benefit to others, the community and the world beyond themselves. It asks the question, “This is who I am, so how can I am of service to help others and make a difference in the world?” The key to this is thinking differently about yourself and others. Being aware of and responding to your surroundings, thoughts, feelings and considering the impact on others.
Conscious leadership is about inspiring the best in people.
Conscious leaders recognize the success of a business depends on customers having the ability to make well informed conscious decisions rather than decisions born out of desperation to make ends meet. We need to recognize that business can only prosper in a healthy society not ruled by fear and anxiety. Conscious leadership is much more than how we operate as employees or as businesses rather it’s about how businesses and as individuals, we operate as members of society.
The changing nature of work, our economy and success require that we broaden our definition of what conscious leadership means and that we step up to live within that broader definition as individuals and as businesses. One of the highest truths of conscious leadership is that true change starts from within. An inner journey that helps to direct the outer journey. Being fully present both inside and outside requires a journey of self- reflection and personal growth. To know your highest values and beliefs and embody a willingness to stand up for them and live congruently in all areas of life.
Why Does Conscious Leadership Matter?
It is essential for everyone and not just as leaders in business to understand that our minds are conditioned towards the social mind and living in a world full of responsibilities and distractions doesn’t help. It really takes a conscious approach to be able to stay focused and on top of our game without burning out or becoming disengaged, frustrated and disillusioned with life.
What keeps most leaders professionally and certainly in our personal lives from being fully self-aware and living a conscious life, is the social mind and the reactive space we live in as a result. It’s the fight or flight response. Instead of focusing on the larger picture, we react to all kinds of phone calls, emails, emotions, meetings, the daily to-do list, and all sorts of other interruptions.
In the fast pace “rat race”, it’s easy for us to become obsessively focused on the company’s ecosystem at the expense of our own personal lives. Maintaining this harmony between the two can be challenging yet it is critical that we nurture both so that we can give our fullest authenticity to our work so that they may best fulfill their purpose as we fulfill ours.
The qualities of conscious leadership are not taught in school but cultivated through reflection and experience as a way or state of being rather than skills learned.
When it comes to our health and well-being, our personal and professional ecosystems are inextricably connected and feed each other in ways that can both uplift us or be destructive. They are strengthened through authenticity, vulnerability, compassion, self- awareness, transparency and love. A conscious leader is committed to the impact their company has on all stakeholders and investors, in its ecosystem including customers, team members, board members, suppliers, the local community and the planet. Also, the impact on the people in their personal ecosystem from family and friends.
I’ve always been fascinated by human behavior and have learned from my own experience what brings the best out in me and how different leaders have contributed to who I am today. After over 30 years in the corporate industry, of leading and mentoring teams, I can tell you that it’s not your position nor title that makes you a conscious leader, it’s how you behave that does.
To begin to develop consciousness at work and in life, it requires attention to the present, an embodiment of the qualities one possesses, it’s walking the talk and showing up to be fully present. It really comes down to knowing yourself on a deeper level. It’s not a mystical, abstract or out there woo-woo concept. The goal is to become aware of the specific and unique filters through which we see the world, of the reactions we have that are based on our experiences, parental conditioning, and habitual patterns.
The qualities of conscious leadership are not taught in school but cultivated through reflection and experience as a way or state of being rather than skills learned. Having qualities such as a growth mindset, curiosity, kindness, open-mindedness, compassion, a peaceful attitude and a state of joy and flow are attributes of high-level consciousness. Self-awareness supports and maintains balance in everyday life; whether it’s health, relationships, communication, business, family, friendships and how they present in the community. It isn’t easy to cultivate these levels of mindfulness; it requires a conscious choice.
How to Cultivate Conscious Leadership Qualities
1. Cultivate self-awareness
Looking closely at your emotional response is essential for cultivating mindfulness and emotional intelligence, a key attribute of conscious leadership. This is the act of getting to know yourself not only as a leader but as a person. You may know your strengths and weaknesses but are you aware of your thoughts, feelings, and motives?
2. Be intentional
Being intentional is the preface for living life on your terms. Create conscious routines to help you cultivate awareness daily.
3. Let go of the ego
A leader has a unique role to support and guide people to reach their potential and make a difference in the world. It’s not merely just about them.
4. Show up fully
Things won’t always go to plan but what you can control is your intention and the way you show up. We are responsible for what we put out there not the outcomes.
5. Perception is projection
We are complex creatures and have a holistic nature. Conscious leaders balance empathy, vulnerability, kindness, compassion, and love. What you see in others, you see in yourself. What you fail to see in others, you fail to see in yourself.
6. Build sustainability
Across all areas of life. Wellness, family, relationships, career, lifestyle, personal growth, and spirituality are what brings fulfillment and helps you get even more motivated to be a better leader.
7. Be authentic
Conscious leaders speak act and are with integrity. They lead with authenticity and hold themselves accountable. They listen with the intent to understand and not just to respond and they do it by being self-aware and in tune with the world around them. It’s courage and it opens the door to an alternate way of being that gives others permission to do the same.