Colin D Ellis
Leadership | Culture | Success

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Why it's important to be a conscious leader

The problem I frequently have with leadership concepts is that the language is confusing and I have trouble relating it to my day-to-day role as a leader! Take the word 'limbic' as an example. I know that it has something to do with the brain, but given that I'm neither a neurologist nor a psychologist I immediately sigh inside at the thought of having to learn what it is or does.

Now, this is partly a result of my capacity for learning new stuff outside of the things that I'm really interested in but partly it's down to our never ending quest for keeping things complex in order to a) create a niche; b) use our training we've paid thousands of dollars for; or c) sound really smart having done lots of research.

And so to conscious leadership.

What is Conscious Leadership?

In their book Conscious Capitalism: Liberating The Heroic Spirit of Business, John Mackey (co-CEO, Whole Foods) and Raj Sisodia (co-founder Conscious Capitalism Inc.) describe Conscious Leaders as "strong individuals who possess exceptional moral courage and are able to withstand constant scrutiny and criticism from those who view business in a more traditional manner". They go on to say that they are ‘…seeking to nurture and safeguard [the business] for future generations.

In reality what this means is that Conscious Leaders understand where the business is heading, what their role is in the achieving that and how they should care for and motivate the team in order to get there. In doing so, they treat everyone equally and create cultures that people want to contribute to and be a part of. They stand for all that is good in people and use that to guide their thoughts and actions.

Why it's important

In my experience people want to enjoy work. They don't want to work 9-5, pick up their pay check and moan about what they do to their friends. They want to come in, have people to take an interest in who they are and to share the thoughts they have. They want to be given work that stimulates them in an environment that supports them and they want to be recognised when they do good work and supported when they've not hit the mark.

This is why conscious leadership is important. Not only does it makes the practitioner feel good, but it makes the recipients feel good as well. Conscious leaders listen intently and offer suggestions to help the team grow. They put themselves in the shoes of their team member and use anecdotes and stories to reinforce a point or bring humour to a stressful or tense situation.

Conscious leaders are kind, thoughtful and go out of their way to make you feel special. In return they gain your trust, respect and most of all you want to work and succeed for them.

At the heart of every successful business you'll find conscious leadership.

How can you become a Conscious Leader?

As with most leadership concepts, everyone has their own idea of what it is and how it should be applied – from sustainable practices and ethical purchases to simply being a nice person. But here are some tips to get you started:

1. Become more self-aware
In the work that I do with organisations I find that where teams are disengaged or apathetic towards their outputs this is as a result of the leader having little to no self-awareness. So do yourself and your team a favour and list the things that you (or others) don't like about your approach, regardless whether it's the way you communicate, how you run meetings or the time that you keep. Find one thing then work hard to change it. It won't be easy, but it will be worthwhile.

2. Say thank you more
As a self-aware leader you'll realise that the team do all the real work, so use your manners and say thank you more. Find different ways to do it; post-it notes, hand written cards, call it out in a team meeting (providing you won't embarrass them), but let it be known to the team that you're someone that appreciates the efforts that people are putting in.

3. Show some humility and learn from your mistakes
In order to do this, you have to make some decisions. Use the knowledge of your team to help you remove a roadblock. If it turns out to be the wrong decision, take all of the responsibility for it, apologise, and then learn. As Henry Ford once said ˜Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement.

It's well documented that we only get one shot on this planet, so why wouldn't we use the opportunity to be the best person we can be while we're here?

There's no dark art when it comes to being a Conscious Leader. It's simply a bunch of good behaviours, traits and life lessons that when combined make you feel fulfilled and your team valued. Who doesn't want that?

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