Conscious Leadership is about Becoming ‘Conscious’ First

By Charlie Efford and originally published on Linkedin

As I started to tune into the idea of conscious leadership (and the plethora of related ideas), my first thought was – how do I define what a conscious leader is? Once I had a definition, I could create a model and teach people how to become one. Logical, rational and completely aligned with a reductionist view of the world. (The idea that we can explain everything by understanding its component parts).

Conscious leadership needs time to emerge

I set off on my quest and read lots of articles that confidently stated what a conscious leader is. Although I agreed with some of the thinking, I found myself recoiling at the boldness of these assertions. In my world, conscious leadership is new and emerging.

The last thing it needs is people telling it what to be. Definitions are great for ownership and marketing, but doing so drags conscious leadership into our current way of thinking. We risk losing an opportunity to transcend the old world order and the corresponding mess we have created. Conscious leadership offers hope and it needs time to develop. Choosing this approach means we have to live with not knowing – for now anyway.

Before going any further, I should offer a few words about consciousness. For my purposes I will equate consciousness with awareness. Becoming more conscious therefore means becoming more aware – but more aware of what?

A simple answer is, becoming more aware of the information available to us from mind, body and spirit. There is so much that we fail to pick up, let alone understand, from our inner world and from those around us. When we start to tune into and understand this information, the world begins to look very different. Ideas and beliefs about how things work change.

A shift from “what’s in it for me?” to “what’s in it for us?”

The clue to understanding conscious leadership lies in the title. I believe you have to become ‘conscious’ before you can start learning how to be a conscious leader. So what does becoming ’conscious’ mean? Whatever I say is going to be contentious, so please accept my view as just that – a view. When someone becomes ‘conscious’ the centre of gravity of their being seems to shift from “what’s in it for me?” to “what’s in it for us?”.

It’s as though someone is making the transition from self-actualisation (in Maslow’s terms) to what comes next. When you see the world in terms of how can we progress? or how can we organise things? a different set of solutions start to appear. A deeper understanding of the connectedness of all things means that working for the greater good makes more sense than taking what I can get for me or my friends.

Becoming a conscious leader is therefore only meaningful when you have made this transition. The transition I am talking about is the shift in the centre of gravity of your consciousness. None of us are perfect and we will all have times when we choose self over others. However, as our understanding and awareness grows the balance changes. There comes a tipping point when the next stage of our growth can start.


The idea of becoming conscious in order to become a conscious leader has some implications:

  • Those offering to develop, train and mentor conscious leaders are going to have to be conscious themselves, otherwise they won’t know what they are talking about.
  • You won’t know you have become ‘conscious’ until you get there. How can you understand a higher level of consciousness from a lower level perspective?
  • You can do things that a conscious leader would do, but they won’t have the same impact until you develop your consciousness
  • Conscious leaders see the world differently. Analysing and trying to understand what they see with current thinking is a waste of time.

If becoming a conscious leader appeals to you then like me, you are receptive to a wave of energy that is rippling around the world.

My advice is:

Follow your instincts. Read books and articles. Talk to interesting people. Do your inner work. Go on consciousness raising courses that appeal to you. Join with like-minded people. Enjoy the journey as you explore. Take time to soak in the richness of your new experiences. Try new ideas and see what happens. Spend time in nature.

Think of an oak tree growing to its full potential rather than an apple tree being managed in an orchard.

One day you will realise that you are ready to become a conscious leader. If leadership is your thing, then you will understand what to do. The way you see the world will have changed and the way you lead will have too.

Republished with permission.

Featured image from original article