Conscious leadership is a powerful leadership style that focuses on growing and strengthening organizations by growing and strengthening the people within them. It is an evolving practice, meant to grow with people, teams, organizations and the world around them. In this way, leadership is alway responsive (never reactive) to changing circumstances, no matter where they come from, and leaders are continually taking themselves to higher and higher levels of consciousness, inspiring those around them to continually strive for growth.
When people stop learning and growing, they become stagnant. Life comes to a halt. People can feel stuck, unfulfilled, restless, lethargic, even afraid. The same is true of organizations. When organizations stop embracing growth, possibility and newness, they too become stagnant. The traditional style of command-and-control leadership is often rigid and leads to these stagnant states. Conscious leadership, with its focus on continual growth of all stakeholders, responds to this stagnancy and prevents it down the road.
But, what exactly is it? How does it work? What are the benefits? Is it really worth changing the way you do things?
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about conscious leadership, and their answers. If you still have questions, please don’t hesitate to connect with me.
What is conscious leadership?
The basic conscious leadership definition is leadership that focuses on people, inspiring and drawing out the best in others as a path to organizational success. Instead of putting profit and/or organizational objectives at the center, this style of leadership focuses on growing and empowering the people behind the profit. The idea is that the better your people are, the better they will perform within the organization, and the greater success the organization can achieve.
Conscious leadership generally takes a holistic approach, not just focusing on how people perform at work, but respecting how all aspects of our lives impact the others. If someone is struggling in one area, that struggle will spill over into other areas. Likewise, when someone is thriving in one area, that sense of joy, engagement and fulfillment will also spill over into other areas. Conscious leadership respects this and knows that honouring the human – the full human – is the most effective way of inspiring, motivating, engaging and growing A-player team members within an organization.
How do you become a conscious leader?
While the focus is on others, becoming a conscious leader starts with the self. It means bringing your whole self to your leadership role. That may sound simple,
But it can actually take a lot of work to really uncover – and connect with – your truest and best self. Our thoughts and beliefs about the world and ourselves come from so many different sources throughout our lifetime. Some go so far back that we aren’t even fully aware that they are beliefs, not facts. We just “know” that we’re not good at math, that people aren’t trustworthy, that we should stick with what we know, play it safe, not take risks and so on.
When we aren’t aware of these beliefs and self-limitations, we bring all that baggage into our leadership roles instead of bringing the best and most authentic parts of ourselves – the parts of ourselves that are poised for growth, that will take us to higher and higher levels, and will inspire others to start bringing their best forward.
When we do the work to uncover and move past our self-limiting beliefs, to reconnect with our core strengths, values, passions and purpose, we are empowered to bring our truest and best selves to our work, and better equipped to bring out the best in those we lead.
There are many ways to become a conscious leader as well as resources out there to get you started, but you may want to start with asking yourself some key questions to start connecting your inner leader. In continuing your journey, a certified coach is a powerful ally in guiding you to connect with your inner leader and holding you accountable, every step of the way, as you bring your inner awesomeness forward.
How do you become a conscious CEO?
Or, a better question may be, “What is a conscious CEO?” After all, a CEO’s role isn’t just to lead people. A CEO is responsible for the entire organization – profits, goals, hiring, partnerships, clients, expansion, people’s job security and so on. When you have the full weight of the organization on your shoulders, focusing on helping people be their best selves can feel like a luxury you just don’t have time for.
However, conscious leadership can have huge benefits for people in the most demanding roles because it’s about empowering the people around you to be better. When you are surrounded by great people – people who know their strengths and bring them forward with confidence – business runs more smoothly.
Like a conscious leader, a conscious CEO leads primarily by example and cultivates the tools and strategies to create organizational cultures and systems that are engaging, productive, inspiring, creative and highly poised for success. A conscious CEO also has the tools to stay focused on the purpose and values of the organization, and continually take steps and make decisions that are aligned with those elements, so that every step is a step in the right direction.
What is conscious management?
There’s a lot of discourse around the difference between managers and leaders. The fact is, if you’re a leader, you also have to do some level of management, as in managing the day to day operations and so on. Then there are roles where you aren’t managing people, but are managing portfolios, IT systems, product specs and such.
So, when it comes to management, can we employ principles of conscious leadership? Yes. Conscious management is about awareness, alignment and impact. It’s about making decisions with full awareness of the big picture, in alignment with the purpose and values of the organization, and with full consideration for the impact on other areas of the organization. This approach streamlines the decision making process in a way that ensures it is always fully aligned with organizational success.
What are the commitments of conscious leadership?
In the book, The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, the authors lay out fifteen commitments you can make to empower your journey towards conscious leadership. Conscious leadership is deeply individualistic. It’s about leading as your truest and best self, so your path and approach will likely differ from others. That said, guidance like these and others such as The Four Agreements and the inspiring Conscious Capitalism (often considered the bible of conscious leadership) can serve as guideposts along the way, helping and reminding you to continually reconnect with your core self, to always focus on how you can grow, and to remember your impact.
The fifteen commitments below have been modified from those in the book mentioned above to give you a better idea of the CEO of Your Life approach to conscious leadership and conscious culture.
- Responsibility – Commit to taking full responsibility for all aspects of your life, and to supporting others in taking responsibility for their own lives. Always turn the finger back on yourself. What is your part? How can you show up in a constructive way? What can you do to improve the situation or grow from it? You can’t control the people and circumstances around you, but you can always control how you show up and respond.
- Curiosity – Commit to always being curious about where you can go/grow next, how situations can get even better, and being open to the possibilities and opportunities that every situation presents.
- Feelings – Commit to being with your feelings and allowing them to pass through you. When we try to block our feelings, we only make them stronger, louder and more persistent. They start looking for other ways in and start spilling out in the wrong places. When we invite them in, acknowledge them and allow them to show us what they want us to learn, they become a part of our progress instead of our baggage.
- Truth – Commit to speaking your truth, even when it’s hard, and learn to create clear AIR – authenticity, intimacy and responsibility/respond-ability. Truth takes power away from difficult things. In the Rumplestiltskin fairy tale, Rumplestiltskin loses his power over others when his name is spoken. Likewise, when we commit to truth – to saying what needs to be said and naming what feels unnameable – those “big bad” issues start to lose their negative power over us.
- Clear assumptions – Commit to clearing away assumptions in favour of openness and truth. Speak directly and respectfully to people if you have an issue with them, and encourage others to do the same. Whenever you catch yourself making an assumption, shut it down and seek out clarity instead. This can mean opening yourself up to vulnerability and that’s a powerful way of creating trust and intimacy (even professional intimacy) that takes relationships to the next level.
- Integrity – Commit to being impeccable in your word. Say what you mean and only what you mean. Avoid speaking against others and yourself. Acknowledge your feelings and your truth, admit mistakes and continually strive to show up as your one whole and best self, rather than splitting yourself into different personas for different situations, places, relationships, etc.
- Appreciation – Commit to giving, but also receiving appreciation, fully and openly, as well as noticing everything around you with a mindset of appreciation.
- Genius – Your genius is your passion, strengths and values. Commit to bringing that forward, every day and choosing to let it free, rather than stifling it under fear.
- Joy – Commit to a mindset of creating and embracing joy, laughter and fun.
- Being the CEO of your life – An effective CEO takes control of the story. Whatever your “story” is today, it is only your story if you continue to tell it that way. You may not have created everything that happened to you, but you have cultivated the way you tell the story, which impacts the way it will continue to unfold. Reimagine your story. Look at what you can learn or grow from in your past, what you have accomplished and what strengths are within you. Choose to make these elements the theme of your story. A CEO is always open to new ways of growing in the direction of what they want to create. When you choose to be the CEO of your life, you choose personal growth – to be continually learning, growing, challenging yourself and bringing the best YOU forward.
- Self-approval and acceptance – Commit to giving yourself full approval and acceptance of every part of you, exactly as it is – your shadow and your light – even the parts you want to change. Accept that they are who you are now and give them your full love and approval. Only then can you begin to grow and evolve yourself. We cannot change what we won’t accept. Accept it. All of it. Love it. Then grow it.
- Gratitude – That feeling that you need more – more stuff, more love, more people, more money, more anything – the most powerful way to shift that is to embrace gratitude. Commit to seeing the world around you through a mindset of gratitude. Only then will you be able to clearly see where you have enough (often more than enough), where you are trying to fill unfulfillment in the wrong places, and where you truly need to focus on growing.
- Co-creation – Commit to approaching every situation from a mindset of “us together”. When you show up from a place of co-creation, of valuing everyone’s perspective, you are naturally more open to innovation and creativity, and you contribute to a culture of respect, trust and collaboration.
- Holistic success – Commit to making decisions that respect their full impact. How will this impact you, your team, the organization, the community, the world? Success that favours only one area, to the detriment of others, can only ever be short term success. For long term, sustainable success for all stakeholders, the full picture must be respected.
- Respond-ability – Commit to responding over reacting. You are not responsible for every situation, but you are always responsible for how you respond to every situation. When we react, we’re letting our immediate emotions control how we show up. This is when we end up reacting out of fear, anger, assumptions and so on. When we respond, we take the time to allow those immediate feelings to teach us what we need to learn, see what we need to see, so that we can show up from a place of authenticity, clarity and conscious leadership
Why should companies embrace conscious leadership?
Conscious leadership creates sustainable cultures and systems that empower continual growth and success. In many organizations today, people are held back by fear and unwritten rules. Fear that their ideas will be disparaged, that colleagues will gossip, that people will be offended by truth. Fear of retribution, exclusion or embarrassment, and unwritten rules about who gets to talk to whom, what can be said, boundaries that can’t be crossed, and so on. This results in negative, self-preservative behaviours like procrastination, interpersonal conflict, lack of communication, and stifles things like creativity, collaborative problem-solving, innovation, etc.
With conscious leadership, the goal is to co-create – through example, collaboration and openness – environments of safety and trust. Environments where it is safe to share an idea, express concern, approach difficult conversations and try something new. Environments where it is safe to fail because failure means progress. Environments where the status quo is enthusiastically challenged for the good of the organization.
In environments like this, creativity and passion thrive. People become highly engaged and motivated. Productivity and retention rates go up, as well as employee happiness and overall fulfillment at work. When that happens, organizations thrive. Goals are more easily achieved and transitions and setbacks are easier to navigate.
So, why choose conscious leadership? Because conscious leadership strengthens organizations by strengthening the people within them. And that is always a win.
What is conscious culture?
A conscious culture is centered on coaching and trust – trust between colleagues, customers, leaders, stakeholders, partners, communities and so on. In a culture of trust, people can speak their truth knowing they will be heard and respected. Positive, productive discourse is valued over “smoothing things over” and honesty is always celebrated, even when it’s difficult. A conscious culture is open to change, is flexible, welcomes feedback and disagreement and prioritizes progress over perfection.
With that trust in place, a conscious culture can embrace a coaching style of interpersonal relationships where people are continually encouraging and supporting each other, rather than dragging each other down. This is where corporate coaching and conscious leadership can fit well together. Being coached – experiencing that kind of productive, supportive relationship in a professional setting – is a great way to grow yourself and learn how to coach and grow those around you.
If you would like to know how to create a conscious culture in your office, please connect with me to discuss if conscious leadership coaching is the right path for you.
What about conscious leadership and accountability?
Especially in more traditional workplaces, there’s a misconception that conscious leadership and other enlightened or “alternative” leadership styles reduce accountability in favour of not hurting anyone’s feelings. In fact, the opposite is true. Accountability is even more important in conscious leadership, as it can only be effectively practiced if we accept full accountability for our impact and everything we bring to each situation, and expect those around us to accept full accountability as well.
In terms of not hurting feelings, conscious leadership is about respecting feelings, which is very different. Difficult things will need to be said and difficult conversations will need to be had. In conscious leadership, these difficulties are not avoided. Rather, embracing them is imperative. But, they must be embraced with respect for the human. Truth must be spoken. Always. But we can learn to do so in ways that are respectful and kind. Feeling may be hurt. That is a fact of life. But they can always be respected and allowed space to be experienced.
How does professional coaching for conscious leaders work?
If you want to learn how to create a conscious leader in your workplace, become one yourself, or support the development of conscious leadership in your organization, professional coaching is one way to go, and there is more than one way to go about coaching. Coaching workshops can be a great way to start. You can also look into one-on-one or group coaching. You can look into coaching packages with established sessions, or even a bank of hours to be used by your team as needed. Coaches can work in person, remotely via Skype or Zoom, by email or instant messaging… most coaches are open to working in whatever way is best for your needs, so long as it allows for real progress to be made.
If you’re considering professional coaching, the best step to take is to have that first call to see what the possibilities are. And remember: both coaching and coaches are not one-size-fits all. If the first one you contact doesn’t feel like the right fit, don’t quit! Keep exploring. You will find the right fit for your needs.
I’ve heard a lot about women and conscious leadership. What’s the connection?
Conscious leadership embraces everything around us and within us, to continually take ourselves and others to higher levels. When it comes to women and conscious leadership, there are so many qualities and characteristics that have long been associated with women and, therefore, have been excluded from traditionally male-dominated work cultures. These qualities include things like compassion, empathy, patience, caring, open discussion and even the ability to identify feelings!
In today’s world, more and more people are recognizing that these characteristics are neither male nor female, but simply human. We are all inherently caring and compassionate. We all have feelings that need to be felt. And we are all capable of growing from open, heart-led conversations.
Many conscious leadership resources talk about integrating these “female qualities” into workplaces, but it’s important to keep in mind that these are human qualities. They don’t need to be created in others, but brought out, nurtured and grown. Given that these qualities have been divided across gender lines for so long, there is currently a lot that can be learned from how women approach leadership and professional relationships. The ultimate goal of conscious leadership is that all human qualities are recognized, acknowledged and respected for the value that they bring.
Will I have to do yoga and meditate?
Here’s the thing… if you really want to create something different, you have to be prepared to DO something different. Alternative practices like yoga, reiki, visualizations, Thai Chi, affirmations, etc., may seem totally different to you, but isn’t that a good thing?
People often ask how to connect with their inner truth. It feels so abstract to them. Especially in professional circles where people want concrete steps. Well, mindfulness techniques are part of those concrete steps.
There are so many options. Some will be a good fit for you, others won’t. It’s about trying with an open mind. Embracing conscious leadership can be a huge mindset shift. Just as you work and care for your muscles when trying to build their strength, you need to work and care for your mind when building its strength. Look into different mindfulness techniques. A great start is some simple guided meditations. Acting with intention, consciousness and awareness takes practice. Embrace the growth that comes with practice.
How do you embrace conscious leadership in 2020?
We are living in a really exciting era of social change that is finally being embraced in professional spheres. Many people today are far more open to concepts like conscious leadership than they were even ten years ago. The nuts and bolts of how you start to embrace conscious leadership will depend on the current culture and leadership style in your workplace, but it’s important to remember that it must always start with intention. On a personal level, it has to come from a place of wanting to be your best self, not just a great leader. Personal growth is not an easy thing. After all, we call it “growing pains” for a reason. You have to be open to asking yourself the tough questions and the answers they might bring you to.
- What is your true passion?
- When was the last time you felt inspired?
- When do you feel at your best?
- What do you truly want to create for yourself, not just in your work, but in your life?
- What impact do you want to have?
- What impact are you having?
You need to be ready to dig deep and get real; to act with consciousness; to act with awareness of your impact; to get vulnerable; to learn; to share; to open yourself up to possibility.
This is not easy, but it also isn’t just a path to great leadership. It’s a path to a better life and better world. If you’re considering taking this path, it’s worth having a discussion with a qualified coach or even someone in your professional sphere who has successfully embraced conscious leadership and/or a conscious culture.
Conscious Leadership FAQ Q & A Learning.
How Melissa Dawn is inspiring thousands
Melissa Dawn is the founder of CEO of Your Life. As a motivational speaker, life, business & leadership coach, author, energetic healer and former VP Marketing, her approach is unconventional, inspirational, fun and holistic, empowering people to see themselves in a whole new light and finally take control of all aspects of their lives. She is the international bestselling author of I Attract What I Am: Transform Failure into an Orgasmically Joyful Life and Business. Melissa works with individuals, teams and organizations and has helped thousands become the CEOs of their personal and professional lives with confidence, success and joy.