Why Developing Conscious Leadership Is Essential To Future-Shaping
Consciousness gives us the understanding of, as well as the freedom from, the more rigid aspects of linear thinking. It gives us the intuition to navigate evolutionary possibilities and stay away from dualities that cause pain, isolation and destruction.
The first measure of consciousness in leadership has to do with how much awareness the leader has in any of the fundamental dynamics of the leadership act. (Credit for this measure goes to my mentor, conscious leadership thought leader Robert Dilts.) The second measure is how much of that awareness the leader embodies and manifests in decision-making and value creation.
In a business context with heightened complexity of change challenges, ambiguity of direction, uncertainty of outcomes and volatility of predictions, conscious leadership is the name of the game.
What is conscious leadership?
Conscious leadership is about creating a world in which people want to belong—a world in which they can thrive but also to which they can contribute. It is about awareness of how and for whom are we creating value. Inclusion, diversity, equity, sustainability, peace and prosperity—none of these can be achieved without conscious leadership. Conscious leadership is transformational at individual and collective levels.
We can broadly recognize six types of leaders, according to capacity to model their success factors:
• Action leaders: Lead people on what to do and figure out necessary adjustments for the best solutions.
• Strategic leaders: Lead through their capacity to match capabilities and energy.
• Inspirational leaders: Appeal to values and beliefs, and extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.
• Charismatic leaders: Bring out the gift in people, calling each unique identity to shine.
• Transformational leaders: Evoke in others a sense of being part of a larger spirit and of something bigger.
• Alchemist leaders: Lead other leaders and know the chemistry of the different levels of the success factor modeling pyramid.
The more conscious the leaders are, the more levels of this pyramid of success factor modeling they are able to work with at every point in time.
Conscious leadership is not altruistic and it’s not permissive—it’s inclusive and it’s wise. The opposite of conscious leadership is divisive, judging, criticizing and putting down of others. Narrow-minded, rigid, short-sighted, arrogant and narcissistic leaders are the opposite of conscious leaders.
Conscious leadership is not about perfection. No leader is perfect. With conscious leadership we mean “How much awareness of the ecosystem that I am interacting with am I able to hold as I’m making decisions?”
What makes conscious leadership essential?
• Scale: The main challenge of consciousness today is the scale. You can’t take significant actions today that do not impact the whole system. Today’s complexity requires leaders to upgrade their level of consciousness to include the whole system and understand how the parts relate to the whole.
• Investments: The emergence of responsible investment growth in multiple bottom lines is becoming a criterion of differentiation for responsible investors. Increased awareness of leadership legacy on climate, war, fraud and poverty is raising the bar on corporate governance and pressing organizations to measure and report growth on multiple bottom lines.
• Technology: There is no aspect of the technological explosion today that is not concerned with moral choices claiming leadership consciousness. While advancements in artificial intelligence and extended consciousness can be a sort of “cognitive prosthesis” (as Robert Dilts refers to it) for the leader, they imply the pressing need for leaders who have an acute sense of systemic and subtle awareness.
• Social distrust: There is an increase in social distrust of institutional leaders. Society has entered a cycle of distrust toward social leaders, with about 82% of the leaders operating in leadership styles that are more on the problem-fixing side of the spectrum and less on the future-shaping side, more into pursuing probable futures and less into pursuing aspired futures. A recent study by Gallup indicates that only 33% of employees agree that they trust the leadership in their organizations. These are signs that while many leaders try to do a good job, their efforts are not giving the desired impact.
How can leaders nurture this essential skill for future-shaping?
Becoming an effective leader comes down to mastering four fundamental pillars: act as an example, provide direction and vision, inspire and encourage team cooperation.
To become conscious leaders, we need to master the process of leadership and develop particular qualities of the mindset. Here are some qualities to develop as a conscious leader:
• Systemic awareness: The ability to hold these larger dynamics in place and then take strategic steps knowing that each step we take is going to have an impact, a reverberation back on us.
• Subtle awareness: A sense of field intelligence and the ability to work with multiple intelligences—rational, emotional, spiritual, somatic, conversational—in an organic way. Use body-mind-soul (or head-heart-gut) awareness to guide decision-making and value creation.
• Entrepreneurial self-leadership: The ability to capitalize on opportunities and develop a sort of Midas touch. Instead of fixating on developing industry expertise, this leadership nurtures creative imagination, a strong sense of critical thinking, a commitment to convert a dream into reality, and strong alliances.
• Reflective learning: The ability to reflect mindfully upon experience and model your success factors. Develop awareness of what the things are that made a difference and what is going to actually make a difference. Seek feedback and be aware that the more conscious we are, the more conscious we can become.
• Persona and presence: Being inclusive and pursuing growth in multiple bottom lines. Having a humble persona with a powerful presence, channeling our gifts and high potential into productive lines of action. Orienting our thoughts toward reconciliation, synthesis and nonjudgment; our emotions toward confidence, joy and passion; and our actions toward leveraging opportunities, wisdom and creation.
Conscious leadership is a gateway to future-shaping—which is exactly why our enterprises and the world we live in today need more conscious leaders. I hope that you are already one of them or at least that this article has awakened this desire in you.