Making a Conscious Living

Written by Charlie Efford

Photo by Bilal Kamoon

I looked around for ages to find a word to describe my views on leadership and felt really satisfied when I chose the word “Conscious”. Conscious Leadership – perfect I thought.

I then Googled it and quickly realised that others had similar and distinctly different ideas about what Conscious Leadership means. I remember being irritated and thinking they have a view but they don’t really get what Conscious Leadership is all about. It was of course totally unreasonable of me to think this. Being an aware kind of person, I thought I had better look more closely at what was going on.

I knew there were thousands of websites and lots of different approaches (brands dare I say) describing new ways of thinking about leadership. Servant Leadership, Authentic Leadership, Collaborative Leadership, and of course Conscious Leadership to name but a few.

I looked at lots of websites and noticed two things.

  • There was a lot of common ground between the different approaches – almost as if they all shared a common ancestor.
  • Most had a definitive statement about what their brand of leadership was all about.

I think it was the authoritativeness of the definitions that rankled. It felt like the authors were laying claim to a piece of leadership territory for their own ends. I know this is commercial practice (and we have to make a living) and it doesn’t feel right. Here’s why;

  • When someone lays claim (however unwittingly) to a particular brand of leadership, it feels to me as though I am being excluded from that territory.
  • The work of shining new light on leadership feels way too important for any one person to own a piece of the territory.
  • It raises a question for me, – If we are asking others to lead in an enlightened way – how can we model what we are proposing if we can’t work this way ourselves?

I believe there is real value in having a diverse range of leadership programmes. It offers different perspectives which will appeal to all leaders. However, if we lose sight of “The Greater Good” (and let our own interests dominate) then although we might make money we are not doing what we are here to do. Maybe the answer is to use less authoritative language and to recognise that most of these new ideas all come from the same family.

I think the challenge is – how can we work in such a way that we model leadership and guide leaders towards a new way of “Being” (that probably includes elements of service and humility) in such a way that we honour these values and make a good living at the same time?

About the author

Charlie Efford


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