By Charlie Efford, originally published on Linked In
I would like to reframe Conscious Leadership as a path that everyone can take and move it away from the rather narrow focus of enlightened organisational leaders. We do need good organisational leaders and we need people with a greater consciousness more. Those who are willing to do the work of expanding their consciousness are leading the way for the rest of us.
Before exploring conscious leadership with you, I would like to say something about consciousness itself. It seems to be a fundamental condition of existence. Our own consciousness (or awareness of the world) appears to be limited by the beliefs we hold and the sensing capabilities of our physical bodies. The decisions we make are invariably the consequence of our consciousness.
Wanting to become more conscious is like wanting to climb a mountain. The impulse to reach the top is hard to explain but it’s undeniably there. When you are in the forest of the foot hills, life is close and dense. Sunlight can be sensed but is filtered by the canopy.
Some people are happy to exist in this rich world, but others strive to ascend. It can be hard work to rise above the trees and it takes training and dedication. Those who make the journey always say it was worthwhile. With greater awareness, comes greater light and a deeper understanding of life and the world.
For my purposes, conscious leaders are those willing to climb the mountain. We need them to pioneer the pathways for the rest of us to follow (at least those who recognise an innate urge to climb). We also need them because they have the necessary awareness to bring change to the world.
Setting out to become more conscious is a journey of faith. It is impossible to know what it feels like to be more conscious until you become, well, more conscious. This is contrary to our performance-driven world where people want to know what they are going to get before they put the effort in.
A key characteristic of a conscious leader is therefore, a willingness to undertake the journey knowing it is a leap into the unknown.
There are some foundations of conscious leadership that stabilise the gains made. Going back to my mountain metaphor, you could climb a long pole to rise above the forest, but the chances are you would fall off or slip back down. Standing on a solid mountain is much better than clinging to a slender pole.
Foundations for Conscious Leaders
The foundations of the mountain include:
– Your relationship with yourself and those around you
– Your relationship to the Earth
– Your awareness of your physical body and the subtler energy around it
– Your service to community and the wider world.
There is a balance between inner awareness and outer presence. The more you know yourself, the more effective you can be in the world. To fully understand yourself, it is vital to engage with others. It is one thing to feel at peace about a situation in your home, and quite another to experience the agitation when you face it for real.
To grow usually asks you to be more open, more direct and more honest. It also asks you to face and deal with uncomfortable and difficult situations so that they stop limiting you.
In the process beliefs change and conscious leaders understand the world differently.
They typically develop:
A strong sense of purpose that adds meaning and direction to life, often leading to a willingness to serve.
A greater understanding of their own emotions, thoughts and feelings, granting the ability to act from their ‘higher self’ rather than their ego.
Deeper connections with people at all levels. Through deep listening, authenticity and unconditional love, they build trust and enable others to be at their best
What seems to happen for those who make the journey is a greater appreciation of our connectedness with all things and a deeper capacity for compassion and caring. There also seems to be a fundamental shift from ‘what’s in it for me – to what’s in it for us’.
Conscious Leaders almost certainly offer a way forward that our current crop of politicians and leaders can’t – one that promises a more harmonious and compassionate way to live in relationship with the Earth, each other and all Life.