Authenticity Blog Conscious Leadership

Practicing Conscious Leadership

Written by Charlie Efford

Licence Photo by verino77

You have looked at the way your organisation operates and bumped up daily against the politics and games that people play. You have noticed the mixed levels of engagement and, maybe wondered what it would be like if more people enjoyed their work. You have also probably done some personal development work and are keen to know how you can make a difference. Let me call you a Conscious Leader in waiting for now.

To help you think about how you can make a difference I would like to refer to Ken Wilber’s AQAL Matrix.







  • ‘I’ is our inner world of emotions and thoughts and values
  • ‘We’ refers to the relationship and shared meaning we have with those around us
  • ‘It’ is the realm of our physical bodies and what we say and do
  • ‘Its’ is the external world of systems, environment and technology

If you have done some inner work you may have looked at your beliefs and values and made some informed choices about which ones are really important to you. The ones your parents instilled in you might not fit anymore. Let’s say for example that being open and honest is high on your list.

You are then asked to make a presentation to your team to explain some significant changes being made in the organisation. The problem is that you don’t think the changes are being made for the right reason and you certainly don’t agree with how they are being implemented. What do you do?

Do you do your duty to those who employ you or do you follow your conscience and tell your team what you really think? The fact that you are fully conscious of this dilemma is a good thing. You have now have choices that those who are less aware don’t have. A good question to ask at this stage is what course of action will let me sleep well tonight?

You have already made your feelings known to your Director and been told to get on with it (with a fair bit of flannel in the process). You didn’t feel heard and have decided you are not going to be a company stooge.  What you do next is up to you, but to help you decide let’s look at the other quadrants in Ken Wilber’s model.

  •  We – You have an emotional connection to your team. You probably have a genuine desire to look after them and serve them as best you can. They like your openness and will spot any attempt to mislead them in an instant. It has taken a while for the team to trust you and for you to build up your trust in them. Jeopardising this relationship seems unthinkable.
  • It – You decide to declare your loyalty to them and the overall business and confess to your misgivings about the forthcoming changes. Your authenticity shines through. You have tried hard not undermine the company position and yet you have openly shared your thoughts about what is happening. Your team repays your trust by offering their support to make the changes work as best they can.
  • Its – The Company expects you to report progress so you decide to tell them what they need to know but not to lie. You start to think about the impact of the changes on the local community and customers and think you can make some adjustments that fit with the overall intentions of the management team. You decide to work them up into a proposal and plan to present how they can enhance and develop the project.

I am sure there are lots of other ways of addressing this situation and I know I have been sparing on the details. The important piece to take away is your awareness of what is happening in the’ We’, ‘It’ and ‘Its’ quadrants when you make your decisions. Knowing that you feel uncomfortable is not enough to be a Conscious Leader. You also have to be adept at putting your knowing into practice

You wouldn’t be in a position like this unless you were on the road to becoming a conscious leader. As you see more, know more and understand more you will be able to make better and better choices. Following the guidance of your conscience will take courage at times and call on your authenticity and integrity. The relationships you have with those around you will help enormously and if you can keep a watchful eye on the outside world you won’t go far wrong.

We help conscious leaders to practice in this way – please look at our Conscious Leader programmes

About the author

Charlie Efford


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: