Is Your Board Conscious?

by: Steven and Chutisa Bowman
Copyright 2008 by Conscious Governance.
All rights  reserved. You may forward this in its entirety to anyone you wish.

Boards can choose to be conscious, unconscious, or even  anti-conscious. Consciousness exists on a continuum, and thus the Board   collectively can choose where on that continuum they want to be.

Most Boards tend to focus more consciously in some areas than in  others. Levels of consciousness are always mixed. Boards may operate on a   high level of consciousness on one area of business but a low level on  another area.  The Board may have high consciousness levels in matters  pertaining to  environment but very little in ethics and staff welfare -  or vice versa.  The Board’s overall level of consciousness is the sum  total effect of  these levels.

A truly conscious Board must embrace a culture of consciousness  and must aim to operate consciously across the broad spectrum of the  business concerns  – from strategic planning, to recruiting, to  operating systems and  processes, to developing the vision that guides  the organisation.


The Conscious Board

Those Boards that choose consciousness know what they are about –  what  inspires, stimulates and rejuvenates them.

The Conscious Board is totally present, and is not influenced  unconsciously by past events or future concerns.  They live in the  question, rather than being besieged by the problems.  They know how to ask questions in a more unlimited way in which they  will allow the  answers that they hadn’t considered as possibilities, to  manifest.  By “living in the question”, they become more aware of the options they  have.  They look at situations from the framework of wanting to get to  the  truth.  They are in touch with their intuitive knowing as well as  the logical  aspect of themselves.  When the Board member functions from   their intuitive knowing they are  able to perceive solutions that  cannot be worried out by the clear light  of logic.  Recent research by the HeartMath Institute, a Nonprofit in the USA, has  shown that  intuition can actually be measured by electrophysical  changes, and that   consciousness and intuition are linked.

The Conscious Board is not attached to convention and is always  willing to take risks and destroy and un-create old systems, structures   and routines for new ones.

Conscious Board’s have a sense of adventure and curiosity and are  comfortable with a flowing process rather than a rigid form and  structure.  They are able to flow with change and even thrive on it.  They are able to destroy and un-create any predetermined point of view  about how the organisation should be in order for the infinite  possibilities of that organisation to be revealed.

The Conscious Board is able to choose from infinite  possibilities,  those actions that will prove to be the most expansive  for the  organisation, to facilitate the Board to be conscious in its  governance   responsibilities,  to empower staff to consciously add to the  organisation, and to spread  consciousness to all they touch at work,  home and throughout society  generally.

Is your Board Conscious?

  • Characteristics of a Conscious Board
  • The ability and willingness to  ask probing questions
  • Testing information for truth,  with independent evaluation of  proposed issues
  • Recognition of intuition
  • An understanding of the nexus  between risk, opportunity and  strategic advantage
  • Multiple scenarios considered on  relevant matters
  • A willingness to confront facts  and mistakes
  • Ownership of performance targets
  • Custodians of the vision


The Unconscious Board

The Unconscious Board will make many decisions and generally is quite   busy being busy, but is unaware of what has influenced those  decisions,  actions or feelings.  They feel that luck, outside events,  other people or fate have had an  influence on their current situation, and that what they now have is  possibly as good as it gets.  They often  are engulfed by problems and often struggle to figure the  answer out,  all the while being very busy.

The Unconscious Board is primarily survival and rule oriented.  They function from a finite and fixed point of view of, “Only we can  figure   it out and we’re here all alone”.  They are somewhat inflexible in their  thinking, attached to traditional  and possibly outmoded methods,   protective of their turf, and inclined to  blame most problems on  external forces.  The more unconscious they are, the more risk-averse  they become.

These Unconscious Boards are seeking more for the organisation,  but are unsure what or how to effect change.  The Unconscious Board is one who is buffeted around by circumstances  they feel are not quite under their control.  Things happen around them, often leaving them bemused  and worried.

Is Your Board Unconscious?

  • Characteristics of an Unconscious BoardLack a sense of share vision.
  • Operate in the comfort zone of  complacency.
  • Poor leadership and being  uninterested in people’s view.
  • Poor and unaware communication.
  • Hurried decisions based on  inadequate data.
  • No one is responsible.
  • Incoherent and ambiguous  strategic direction.
  • Unclear board structure,  processes and resources.
  • Directors don’t have a clear  understanding of their role,  responsibility, and micromanage.
  • Accountability arrangement are  unclear or weak.
  • Lack of probing into issues and  tend to be dependent on collegiate  influence.


The Anticonscious Board

There are those Boards who actively work against the consciousness of   themselves and those around them.  The Anticonscious Board is  primarily “attainment and sensation”  oriented.  They are too busy  watching out for themselves, fearing the unfamiliar,  concentrating on  compliance rather than value.  They create conflict and discord and  uphold their own unrecognized  dysfunctional agenda.  They often play  politics with anyone to get what they want. The Board  that is highly  anti-conscious can become status and power hungry, and  tends to want to   build empires.  This can lead Board members to work long hours and  neglect their life  and families.

These Boards do not allow the free flow of information (performance,   financials, strategy etc),  actively cultivate a climate of fear and  punishment (to themselves by  their thoughts and feelings,  and to  others by systematized organisational disincentives), and have  such  fixed points of view that no other possibilities are allowed.  They are focused on systems and processes that create order and are not  very  open to change.  This attachment to a fixed point of view can be  unfavorable because it  blinds them to the need for change.  They do not   function well with the course of change, trying to hang onto  their  security, and resisting what they do not understand.  Their concrete  mindset can also cause them to discriminate others as  adversaries and  to justify reprisal against them.  They often struggle to alleviate  their insecurity thorough excessive  control and territorial behaviour.   Control is sustained through hierarchical authoritative structures that  often cater to their need for status, advantage and privilege.  They  demand discipline and obedience from their people.

The organisation that is governed by the Anticonscious Board can  easily degenerate into bureaucracy.  The environment within their  organisation is toxic, and is characterized  by polarized views within  the Board and the organization about what is  right, wrong, good or bad.   The Anticonscious Board creates unhealthy climates in their  organisation.

Is Your Board anticonscious?

The characteristics of an Anti-conscious Board:

  • Club culture or a culture of self  delusion
  • Dysfunctional relationship  between CEO and chair/board
  • Favoring particular interests
  • On the defensive
  • Elite power base where people are  either in or out of favor
  • A punitive climate of fear where  staff are unable to speak out to  challenge the behavior and thinking of  those in more senior roles
  • Fixed points of view which lock  them into a routine without  understanding the business
  • Misidentify and misapply its  role due to lack of understanding of  what is strategic, which creates  micromanagement conditions thus  encroaching on the expertise and skills  of management
  • Work climate permeated with  negative, judgmental attitudes,  constant criticism, blaming and us  versus them attitude


About The Author

Steven Bowman is an international speaker,  best-selling author and global leader in providing practical frameworks and comprehensive approaches  to assist Boards and Senior Executive Teams to reach higher levels of  conscious awareness in governance, leadership, strategy and risk.  Author of Conscious Leadership-the Key to Success, and Leading Yourself  to Money with Consciousness.

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