What does it take to be a conscious leader in today's complex business environment? How do you generate a real impact in the lives of your staff and stakeholders through the work of your organization? How do your personal interactions create real impact beyond money metrics and satisfaction surveys?
A greater depth of personal awareness probably isn't the first answer you jumped to. But awareness (sometimes known as mindfulness) is emerging as a powerful tool for organizing business, especially those with a focus on creating both profit and change in the world.
The most effective leaders are masters of change, choice and transformation. They lead with the level of personal awareness needed to inspire and influence. Without passion, insight and awareness it's nearly impossible to activate a business, community or movement.
Being A Conscious Leader By Tapping Into Your awareness
Cultivating the awareness of a conscious leader is not a complicated process, but it requires a shift in thinking and attention. The right mindset, or state of being, requires constant nourishment and cultivation.
This may seem unconventional at first, and far removed from the hard and fast rules of the business world. What you accomplish as a leader, as well as your level of impact, will depend to a large extent on your state of being, which manifests itself through your ongoing awareness of what is going on now, and what might be into the future.
Take for example your morning routine when you arrive at work. Do you put your head down and power walk straight to your office before closing the door? Do you say hello to the delivery people as you walk in? Do you inquire as to how the new staff member is fitting in? Do you approach work with a sense of curiosity and question?
Cultivating the true power of a conscious leader is not some random and haphazard decision either...
“Okay now let me become conscious and mindful, then I can be an outstanding leader.”
Cultivating what it means to be a conscious leader is not a deception, pretense or a performance. It is a deliberate choice about how you choose to live and about how you choose to be a leader at work and in your life. It involves being aware of the choices you make and the reason why you made them.
The key to harnessing conscious leadership
The key to harnessing conscious leadership involves understanding the way you function in the world. Your points of view about the world become your reality.
This then begs the question 'what is your reality?'
Your reality is a function of the way you perceive the world. Your perceptions (or your point of view about any given thing) shape your reality, your reality never shapes your perceptions. Using this definition, if you expand your perceptions, you are expanding your reality.
For you to be an effective leader, it's fundamental for you to recognize and acknowledge that you are more than your story or personal history. In many cases these are crutches we cling to. The effect of this would be to obscure your future potential and may even cause you to unconsciously build a life that reinforces these limiting beliefs, especially if you have experienced setbacks or hold a negative self view.
This point is crucial because the stories we tell ourselves tend to become the infrastructure of our lives. By repeating and believing these stories, they can either limit us: "I am too old to learn something new" or "this industry can never change the way it operates". Or our stories can be used to empower us: "I have been in this sector for 20 years, I'm now in a position to change it for the better" or "A few failures can be expected before I get the insights to make true change in this project".
In all of this, it's important to recognize that your point of view creates your reality, your reality never creates your point of view.
How does Changing your Point of View make you a better leader?
The willingness to change your point of view is just a choice. To harness conscious leadership, you must first choose to take ownership of all your choices. For example, fear, anger and incoherence are all just choices you make related to external or internal stimuli, whether real or imagined. They don't have to exist unless you choose for them to exist. You can always choose differently, at the drop of a hat. After all, it's just a choice.
For example, you can choose to feel out of your depth in a Board conversation, or you can choose to ask questions which will provide you (and others) with clarity.
You can choose to be upset with something your colleague, staff, or Director says, or you can choose to listen without judgement, which will give you greater insight into that person's world. This in turn provides you with more choices about how to deal with that person that you can use to create a greater outcome.
At the root of this belief is the awareness that you are the creator of your own life. Life is not something that happens to you. Life happens for you if you have the awareness to direct it. While there are no rules for doing this, there are tools and techniques to help leaders develop and expand their conscious leadership qualities.
To harness conscious leadership you also must develop and expand your personal awareness
Awareness is the capacity to know all that is happening around you, and to judge none of it. It is a continuous, ever expanding feeling of possibility. It is the ability to be totally present in life.
Conscious leaders continuously expand their zone of awareness. They apply labels to nothing (nothing is good or bad, right or wrong) and seek greater awareness around everything. This subtle shift in perception helps you function from a belief in the infinite possibilities around you, rather than always trying to look for an answer or sticking to your long held beliefs.
Conscious leadership is end result of the ongoing choices you make and the actions you take. It requires you to let go of your comfort zone and all of the perceived shortcomings or the limiting behaviors that keep you 'safe'. Cultivating the mindset of a conscious leader will require you to operate and function in a space that may feel uncomfortable at first.
To become a conscious leader, first and foremost you must choose to be a conscious leader. You must claim, own and acknowledge it. If you see awareness as external activity that you sometimes dabble with as separate to your day to day life, you will never tap into its full depth. All you have to be is willing, and choose it. Not once, but every second and every moment.
5 Choices you can make to be a conscious leader
Below are five choices of being which will expand your personal awareness and facilitate you toward becoming a conscious leader.
1. Being open to all possibilities:
The conscious leader functions from the belief that their choices are infinite and unrestricted.
They recognize that the universe is an infinite place that has no boundaries or limitations except for those which are self imposed. They realize that their points of view create their reality, and that to change their reality all they have to do is change their points of view.
In practical terms, this means they are able to find the relationship between where they currently are and where they would like to be. The distance between these two points is not linear, and often appear like magic when they are willing to constantly be in the question about what else is possible.
2. Intensity of Awareness:
Conscious leaders are able to perceive and receive everything without judgment. It is the ability to be totally present in life without making any judgments.
It is the ability to know without the use of rational thought processes or direct cognition. It is the capacity to know without words and to perceive the truth without explanation, cognitive interpretation, reasoning, or justification. Intensity of awareness is, simply put, knowing that you know without knowing how you know.
3. Being the question and functioning from curiosity:
When a conscious leader lives in the question rather than being besieged by the problems or become vested in finding answers and solutions, they are able to create their life more consciously.
By being the question, they are able to be totally present, able to function in the simultaneity of past, present and future and thus not be influenced unconsciously by past events or future concerns.
4. Functioning from total allowance:
Being in total allowance is to be present to the way things are, without aligning and agreeing or resisting and reacting to what is happening. This means that conscious leaders have to let go of the notions of control and to be willing to wipe out the illusion that they can be in control.
Allowance is “everything is just an interesting point of view, even our own point of view”. Indeed, the capacity to be in total allowance of everyone and everything that is happening without resistance creates infinite possibility. This does not mean being a doormat. Being in allowance gives you more control than you could possibly imagine.
5. Generosity of spirit:
Conscious leaders function from the simultaneity of gifting and receiving. They are joyful in the expansion of other people’s lives, joyful when other people are successful or when they are doing well. They have no resentment for anyone and are always excited for other people.
At a deeper level, leaders who embody generosity of spirit take a genuine interest in the unique gifts of others. They are willing to be generous with people and give them more than they ask for. They have the willingness to treat others as they know they can, not as it is expected.
Something to consider
These five choices are available to everyone, yet many will not choose them. Your choice can create major change in your business and the world generally. It is up to you. Choose.