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The Rise of the Conscious Leader

A few weeks ago, while attending the Hacking HR, Grow Talent Strategy panel discussion, one question that was raised really drew my attention “What leadership skills or styles will be needed to lead through these uncertain times?” When attempting to answer this question, the panel spoke of emotional intelligence, active listening, compassion, commitment to the growth of their teams, and flexibility in these times of change, amongst other things.

What they described were the most prominent traits of conscious leadership, a philosophy I aspire to and is championed by iPec (Institute Professional Excellence in Coaching).

Then this Eureka moment hit me.

In the US we have been hit with a triple whammy, of the pandemic, economic uncertainty and the unrest brought by the racial injustice. At this moment, during such a rich discussion with some of the most prominent HR leaders, I suddenly began to see how the future of work is calling for a conscious leadership style, a conscious leader, and how coaching can build these leaders within any organization. It had all come full circle for me as an HR leader and as a Coach.

What is Conscious Leadership?

Perhaps many of you have heard about the many other leadership styles, however, I don’t think you have heard a lot about conscious leadership so allow me to explain.

Conscious Leadership is all about creating an integral vision of how you want to lead in your life, work, community, and society. Conscious leaders do that by cultivating awareness and allowing the space to achieve a level of consciousness (also called level 7 of leadership). This level of self-transcendence and self-awareness allows leaders to ignore their egos, stop reacting, and instead choose to build organizations that encourage, engage, and recognize all employees as having equal and unlimited potential. Organizations that care not only about their products and services but also their impact in their communities and beyond.

Traits and Characteristics of a Conscious Leader

Conscious leaders' traits and behaviors set them apart from other types of leaders.

First and foremost, conscious leaders are able to trust their intuition and make the best decisions in the moment by effectively using the best available options they have at hand. They make choices that serve others as opposed to themselves. They are hyper-aware of the power of the mind and understand that allowing others to express their own thoughts and emotions freely will create an open environment to effectively lead others.

They do not judge, react, intimidate, or coerce, they instead connect with others at a deeper level. They inspire their teams to follow them because they demonstrate authenticity and trust, actively listen, exhibit absolute passion, and fearlessness.

When interacting with individuals in a team setting the most common behaviors found in conscious leaders lead to the creation of an environment of engagement.

They set the agenda and the tone of how a problem should be addressed, however they invite others for their input. They understand that team buy-in is important for any progress to be sustainable

Many of the traits and behaviors you see here, will look familiar if you ever crossed paths with a conscious leader, though not every trait will be expressed in every situation. However, a conscious leader is consistent in inspiring others with their visions and purpose as well as the way they lead.

What does this mean for the Future?

The leadership styles of the past based on compensation/ego/authority or abdication/laissez-faire/crowdsourcing will be insufficient to address the many crises that the world now faces. Problems will be coming with more frequency and ever-increasing complexity.

To address this leadership chasm, what is needed is a balance of awareness and wisdom that is only achieved by accessing our EQ (i.e. the awareness and openness to other perspectives) and having the decisiveness to make the final decision

So let’s imagine for a second, what conscious leadership might look for your organization as we navigate these uncertain times.

Perhaps it looks like...

  • Trusting your team to have fierce conversations around race and unconscious biases in the workplace by fostering an environment where your employees feel safe to open up about their experiences.

  • Embracing change, and going fully remote. However establishing clear expectations about goals, KPIs, communication, and performance.

  • Pushing back on the next round of layoffs and instead look for other alternatives that will be less hard on the community.

It's important to imagine these scenarios/situations. Without a vision of how things can be different nothing will ever change

Rise to be the conscious leader we need

Anyone can nurture this style of leadership and it all starts with awareness and choice, with self and with one another. Each day that you show up to work is an opportunity to be a conscious leader. You will start to see the change in those you interact with almost immediately. It is all within your power and your choice to be proactive and be the leader you wish to be and that


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