The idea of conscious leadership is emerging because the world and the way we see the world is changing (as it always has done). Leadership styles that have worked well are losing their potency. New ways of working are proving to be very effective and are showing us what is possible. Whether you see these changes as an evolutionary response to the world situation or awareness arising from a more spiritual understanding doesn’t really matter.
A changing World
You don’t need me to tell you that things have got a lot more complicated and uncertain over the last 20-30 years. What you may not have realised is how fast the world’s population has increased. Exponential growth is creating global problems that we don’t have answers to yet. The good news is; we have billions more brains available. The bad news is; we don’t have enough leaders who really understand how to connect our intelligence with these global problems – yet.
There is a good argument that leadership is changing as an evolutionary response to a changing world situation.
Human Consciousness is changing
Let me define consciousness as awareness of ourselves and the world around us. Darwin painted a fairly bleak view of our existence that has some but maybe not all of the answers. Instinctively, we know we have so much more to offer than our genes. We increasingly want meaning and purpose in our lives to fulfil an inner longing. This inner shift in awareness is being mirrored by an outer realisation that we are all human beings on a single planet. We want to work in healthy communities where we can contribute our talents and abilities. We are becoming much less tolerant of routine work in controlled environments. Becoming ‘conscious’ (in the sense of becoming a conscious leader) seems to occur when the centre of gravity of our being shifts from “what’s in it for me?” to “what’s in it for us?”. This maybe the transition from self-actualisation (In Maslow’s terms) to what comes next.
Leadership is changing because more and more people are starting to become ‘conscious’. They think in terms of ‘we’ not ‘I’, and plan and organise accordingly.
Conscious leaders are therefore people who have developed their consciousness to the extent that ‘we’ makes more sense than ‘I’, and who are also willing to become (and serve as) leaders.
Because conscious leadership is still emerging, any clear cut definition is going to be limited. Starting with a clear definition is logical, but is also characteristic of our current reductionist way of seeing the world (The idea that we can explain everything by understanding its component parts). In contrast, being comfortable with not knowing and being able to think holistically are some of the emerging features of consciousness leadership.
A summary of the emerging ideas about conscious leadership include:
In the context of conscious leadership, becoming ‘conscious’ seems to mean a felt sense shift from “I” to “we”. This reflects a profound understanding of the connections between people, all life and the planet.
This leads to:
Greater systems intelligence – appreciating and understanding how changes in one part of the system affect the whole.
A strong sense of purpose that adds meaning and direction to life. This often leads to a willingness to serve.
Understanding emotions, thoughts and feelings brings great self-awareness. This enables access to intuition and the ability to act from ‘higher self’ rather than ego.
Building Meaningful Relationships
Connecting with people at all levels through deep listening, being authentic and valuing everyone for whom they are, builds trust and enables great, and often innovative, work to be done.
There are plenty of good leaders who would recognise these dimensions in the way they lead. The list is more about ‘Being’ than ‘Doing”. Conscious leaders are doing different things too. The shift seems to be from controlling the organisation to enabling it.
This shift only makes real sense to those who have become ‘conscious’. In other words, you won’t properly appreciate the benefits that conscious leadership can bring until you make your own shift in consciousness.
A few pioneers have followed their instincts and made the leap. Read their stories and be inspired. When you are ready – think about starting your own journey and give me a call.