10 strategies to help you become a more conscious leader
Today’s headlines seem to indicate that the world overall is undergoing a revolution, and businesses are following suit. Companies seem to be increasingly looking for leaders to adopt a holistic understanding of what it takes to build a happy, healthy workplace for everyone, rather than having people intent on domineering their team with an authoritarian or pushy leadership style.
Rotary International, a global leadership organization dedicated to service above self, focuses on leading by example. Over the years, thousands of their servant leaders have demonstrated the value of actively paying attention to everything they think, say, and do, recognizing that others are watching their every move. This accumulated dedication has resulted in a higher quality of life, improved career satisfaction, and more ethical business environments.
It’s a lesson that can be applied to every business leader, regardless of industry or geography.
To be a conscious leader requires that you speak with integrity, lead with authenticity, and hold yourself even more accountable than others. Conscious leaders are in tune with themselves and the world around them: listening, processing, understanding…and THEN reacting. They check their egos at the door, appreciating that they are ultimately a member of a team whose members need to all be working towards the same objectives.
1. Cultivate self-awareness
Becoming self-aware is arguably the single most beneficial thing you can do to raise your leadership style to the next level. Self-awareness enables you to monitor and manage your strengths and weaknesses and your thoughts, feelings, and motives. Start asking yourself what it would take to bring yourself more joy, then start working towards bridging the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Bring this consciousness into everyday conversations, lunches with friends and co-workers, and the projects you take an active role in both inside and outside the workplace.
Executives who feel they are stuck find this exercise helps them to change the conversation. They come to realize that fully conscious leaders embrace their emotions, rather than denying them.
That higher level of self-awareness and a never-ending desire to learn about yourself, your emotions, and the environment around you (professional and non-professional) become integral to learning, overcoming challenges, and maximizing the results of every day inside and outside the office.
2. Who’s impacting you?
Our innermost circle plays a huge role in our character, victories, and failures…meaning now is a good time to take the pulse of who’s influencing your life and your success. Make a list of the five people you spend the most time with and write down notes about their attitude, behavior, and how they make you feel. Be painfully honest, and if you’re not satisfied with what you see, it’s time to make some changes and restructure your network.
Then take the step so many of us tend to overlook by acknowledging and showing some appreciation for the important people in your life. You might be surprised at how far a kind word can take you.
This can be key, since studies consistently show meditation reduces stress, boosts creativity, enhances REM sleep, improves brain functionality and helps you focus. Whether you’re sitting quietly, walking, chanting, or trying other forms of meditation, you’ll find it deepens your level of consciousness.
4. Listen more, communicate openly and honestly
We’ve observed a trend of people at all levels talking at (and over) each other. Everyone is concerned with getting in the last word, and few of us seem actually to be listening to each other. Yet as American financier Bernard Baruch pointed out, “Most of the successful people I’ve known are those who do more listening than talking.”
So consider the fact that you have two ears and one mouth and listen more carefully. Speak more thoughtfully, even if it takes an extra minute to find the right words. Because listening…REALLY listening to what others have to say will help you get a better-rounded picture of every scenario and improve your chances of spotting and successfully overcoming the challenges coming your way.
5. Encourage collaboration
While it’s true that some internal competition can enhance performance, expand opportunities for friendship, and help a team achieve both individual and common goals, you’ll need to know how to manage conflicts that will naturally derive from each team member’s aspirations.
6. Pay attention
Notice what’s happening around you at all times, and step back to examine things from the other person’s perspective. This approach aids in problem-solving and helps generate new ideas.
7. Be honest
Help team members to know what’s expected of them by expressing your thoughts and instructions in an honest, simple, straightforward manner. Employees will feel confident, with a clear understanding of what they’re supposed to do in both the short- and long-term.
8. Admit your mistakes
In his book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” Dale Carnegie explains if we take ownership of our mistakes, then chances are the other party will be more forgiving. It’s not an easy thing to do, but your team will acknowledge (and learn from) their mistakes if you show them how to do it.
This strategy has also been shown to be MUCH more effective than pointing fingers and playing the blame game.
9. Live your life with integrity.
Every executive can learn something from our school children, who are being taught six core ethical values towards building character. Identified by a nonpartisan, nonsectarian group of youth development experts in 1992 as “core ethical values that transcend cultural, religious and socioeconomic differences”, these six pillars of character are: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship.
Our friends at Rotary International also have a four-way test of everything they think, say, and do, wherein they regularly ask:
- Is it the truth?
- Is it fair to all concerned?
- Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
- Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Whether you’re taking your cues from religious leaders, schools, or the business community, these guidelines are indicative of the larger trend towards incorporating kindness and consciousness in your thinking and daily activities, and can all be summed up in a single word: INTEGRITY.
10. Be a sponge
We know a man whose philosophy is “If you’re about to go to sleep and you haven’t learned something new today, get out of bed.” That desire to educate himself about subjects large and small drives him to daily successes. His willingness to step outside his comfort zone and engage with those around him – from neighborhood children to industry titans – enables him to constantly expand his knowledge base, address the challenges he faces and positions him in the community’s eyes as someone of influence.
So be a sponge and learn as much as you can about everything; it will make you a more interesting person and increase your chances of having conversations with people you aspire to rub shoulders with.
BOTTOM LINE: Conscious Leadership suggests complete self-awareness and authenticity to be who you are. Whether or not you’ve previously recognized it, it’s the key to living a full and satisfying life.
Conscious leaders don’t focus on themselves but on the entire organization as a whole and the larger world around them. They help everyone in their organization grow individually and professionally, recognizing these same people will help the business and their leader.
Because while technology may be amazing, the mind is still the greatest tool we have for building our business and the future we want.
It’s time you start making more productive use of your best tools while guiding those around you to do the same. It’s time for you to live your personal, professional, and business life to the fullest.