In a time of unprecedented change and increasing global connectedness, the Conscious Leader brings a simultaneous deep awareness of self and the ability to operate at a high level perspective to create balanced, sustainable and high performing organisations. The traditional leadership models are no longer fit for purpose in meeting the challenges of an increasingly complex world and it is not sufficient to simply add more leadership content to our existing ways of thinking.
What is needed is a paradigm shift, a ‘systems upgrade’ for our ways of seeing the world, and a more evolved approach to how we interact with others. Conscious Leaders have developed more highly attuned skills in knowing and managing themselves, building deep connections across all stakeholders, and taking a systems-wide view. They have shifted from a leadership style predominated by ‘me’ to an approach that promotes ‘us’.
Conscious Leadership is based on the understanding that the single most important, yet largely unrecognized factor constraining exceptional leadership, is the ego. Conscious leaders have developed the ability to step outside of their ego and as a result are less driven by self-survival and the need to protect themselves, and more able to access a greater range of choices and behaviours through which to lead. These include:
Most importantly, Conscious Leaders have a keen sense of the effect they and their organisations are having on the world and they take responsibility for these effects. Conscious Leaders act with the greater whole in mind and their businesses and organisations are designed to create the maximum benefit for every stakeholder connected to them.
The business landscape features a number of new challenges.
The Conscious Leader is better equipped to meet these because:
Trust in big business is at an all time low. By increasing transparency, considering the wider effects of their actions and seeking to benefit all stakeholders, the Conscious Leader helps to rebuild this trust.
Engagement scores are extremely low, leading to an apathetic workforce and a lack of fresh thinking and organisational renewal. (Gallup scores 2012 report only 13% of the workforce worldwide are engaged). Creating a higher purpose for the organisation magnetizes, aligns and energizes employees, as well as all stakeholders connected to that business. Conscious leaders increase engagement by encouraging personal growth, accountability, a connection to values and authenticity.
Millennials (those born between 1980 – 2000) seek greater meaning and purpose at work, as well as wider connectivity to their networks. The Conscious Leader encourages these connections, while ensuring that employees are connected to their values increases the sense of meaning and purpose.
The executive-employee divide, driven by massive discrepancies in pay, is absent in the Conscious Leader, who is concerned with creating a system whereby all benefit.
The complexity of our interconnected and fast-changing world creates uncertainty and a lack of clear answers. The Conscious Leader has developed greater abilities to sense into the system, use their intuition, encourage taking action and the confidence to experiment. These skills are increasingly important for acting effectively in uncertain times, where there is no one right answer.
Innovation is the way that organisations will survive and flourish in the future. The Conscious Leader connects people, then gets out of the way, so that ideas can flow freely from the talent within the organisation. Conscious Leaders are post-heroic.
Collaboration and extensive partnering for radical innovation is a business megatrend that will become ever more important for survival and to compete successfully in the global marketplace. The Conscious Leader is primed to collaborate by taking a systems-wide view and looks to connect and increase benefits across stakeholders. The Conscious Leader creates a higher, uniting context for competition.
Sustainability is key. The Conscious Leader thinks about the long-term and the effect of his or her actions on the world. This contributes greatly to the sustainability of the organisation.
More than half (51%) of business leaders estimate ego costs companies between 6 – 15%
of annual revenue, and the majority (63%) claim it has a negative impact on performance.
"Ego is the invisible line on your P&L."
(Source: Markham & Smith, Egonomics).
Ego-driven leadership is geared towards self-survival and relies on negative behaviours such as control, manipulation, the excessive use of power, risk aversion and blame. It hinders performance at an individual and organisational level because self-protection gets in the way of collaboration and the ability to play for the sake of the greater whole. Traditional leadership development can help to mitigate some of these effects, but to truly transform the leader needs to recognise the existence of their ego and step above it.