We have all seen and experienced effective leaders making a huge impact in the world we live in, and to some extent shifting the trajectory of our future. The key question is to what end? Hitler and Gandhi were both effective leaders, and in their own ways, made a major impact in the world. In this day and age, with the exponential power of technology and the internet, an effective leader can create a major impact on the world. But if his / her consciousness is confined to his / her egoic mind and limited views, the outcome may be devastating. That is why the “conscious” aspect of the leadership is critical toward the creation of a thriving and sustained community on this planet.
It is about conscious creation of the desired outcome. But desired from whose point of view? A conscious leader is able to step outside of one’s self, see the big picture and evaluate the interdependencies of each part that makes up the whole. It is having the awareness and foresight to know the consequences and impact of each decision on people, community and the environment across time and space. It is the ability to make decisions based on compassion and wisdom.
How it works in practice
Jeff Weiner, CEO of Linkedin, has established a culture of “managing compassionately” throughout the company. As an inside-out conscious leader, he has brought out his personal mission of “expanding the world’s collective wisdom and compassion” into the workplace. He attributes much of Linkedin’s amazing success to the alignment of the leadership team around their core values and making key business and people decisions with “compassion and wisdom” in mind.
Raj Sisodia looked at 28 companies he identified as most conscious based on characteristics such as their stated purpose, quality of customer service, investment in their communities and impact on the environment. The 18 publicly traded companies out of 28, outperformed the S&P500 index by a factor of 10.5 over the years 1996–2011. That should not be a surprise, as conscious companies tend to treat their stakeholders better. As a result, their suppliers are happier to do business with them, and their employees are more engaged, productive and likely to stay. These companies are more welcome in their communities and their customers are more satisfied and loyal. Conscious companies give more, and they receive more in return.
They generally serve a purpose bigger than themselves, and for this reason, can attract and energize employees and communities that believe in their cause. When an employee’s personal purpose is aligned with the company’s purpose and vision, the level of creativity, productivity and commitment multiply.
Hamdi Ulukaya, the CEO of Chabani, talks about the need to rewrite CEO playbooks that have been in effect for many decades. Shifting the paradigm from business existing to maximize profit for their shareholders, to business existing to take care of their employees and communities. Conscious leaders ask the question; what positive changes can I bring to the community? And what is my responsibility in this community? Hamdi states “if you are right with your people, your community and your product, you will be more profitable, more innovative, and have more passionate people working for you”.
One of the most important characteristics of a conscious leader is awareness — toward self, and toward others. It is having an open, curious and learning mindset built on a foundation of humbleness and the realization that “I” am not the center of the universe. It encourages respecting people for who they are and appreciating and valuing their strengths, which in turn brings out the best in them. Such leaders have the unique ability to create powerful and purposeful organizations where everyone feels empowered and committed to the shared vision. In such organizations, the employees don’t feel that they are working for someone, rather working toward the realization of their full potential in alignment with the realization of the vision of the business.
Are you a conscious leader?
The set of inquiries below can help you gain a better understanding of where you stand on the ladder of conscious leadership:
- Are you clear about your core values? What drives you in your business or leadership position? what is most important to you?
- Have you written down your short-term and long-term goals? Are you clear about what is driving these goals, i.e. what is the goal behind the goal? Are they in alignment with your core values?
- Have you formed a vision; a mission bigger than yourself? What is the legacy you like to leave behind?
- What is your level of awareness around yourself, others and the environment? Self-awareness calls for awareness of your thoughts and emotions and how they influence your decisions and actions. Awareness to others calls for understanding and empathy, and how your words and actions influence others. Awareness of the environment calls for your ability to envision the impact of your actions through time and space.
- What are your hidden fears, your self-imposed limitations? What is holding you back to live your true self?
- Are you living in an open system that is conducive to giving and receiving honest and authentic feedback without taking it personally?
* To learn more about leading a life of Joy, Impact, and Abundance please contact me or check out my book “Path to Freedom“.
Acknowledgments: Thanks to Pourya Moradi for providing valuable research material and insights.