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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