Conscious Leadership: More than just a title

February 21, 2024

The Who, What, When, Why, and How of showing up for you and your people

Whether you’re at the helm of a Fortune 500 company, representing your colleagues in meetings, or running a small business – if you have people who follow you, you’re a leader.

But how conscious are you of your influence?

As we know from observation and experience, not all people in a position of power are great leaders. We’ve seen them (or were unfortunate enough to work with them), watching as they wielded their authority without consideration or care, creating confusion, anxiety and inconsistent results in their wake.

By contrast, there are those who we would happily follow wherever they lead – those who inspire our confidence, who we know have the wisdom and ability to achieve their vision, who understand success is a team effort and are invested in those around them.

So what makes the difference?

Much of it comes down to how conscious the leader is of their actions and the impact they have on others. The fact is that the vast majority of our thinking and behaviour is dictated by subconscious drivers – about 95%! Our values, experiences, education, culture, habits and preconceptions all have a significant impact on how we react to situations. As such, we often act without truly understanding why. In order to show up for ourselves and our people therefore, we need to become more conscious of what’s going on below the surface.

And that’s what we mean by “conscious leadership”.

Conscious Leadership is a commitment to developing a deep level of awareness of both yourself and others. This requires (amongst other things) an appreciation of differing personal values, strengths, and areas for growth, coupled with a recognition and empathy for the perspectives, needs, and potential of others.

So what does this look like in reality? Let’s consider the who, when, what, why, and how of becoming a more conscious leader.

WHO: Everyone with followers is a Leader… but not everyone is a Conscious Leader

Leadership is not defined by a title. It is defined by influence. In other words, leadership isn’t confined to the boardroom or a corner office but encompasses anyone who has someone looking up to them. We need to understand the broad spectrum and impact of leadership so that we can show up consciously.

WHAT: Conscious Leadership as a Choice

Being a conscious leader means recognising that leadership is a choice. When you decide to step into a position of influence, you simultaneously take on responsibility for your impact on other people. Being a Conscious Leader means dedication to developing greater awareness of oneself and others. This awareness extends beyond the surface—it’s about recognising the link between thoughts and behaviour, and the influence of personal drivers (e.g. values, strengths, experiences) on our actions. Ultimately, conscious leadership requires an acceptance that we have gaps in our awareness, and a commitment to navigating responsibilities with curiosity, wisdom, empathy, and clarity.

WHEN: The Time for Conscious Leadership is Now

The need for conscious leadership is ever-present. In a world marked by complexity, rapid change, and increasing interconnectedness, the need for leaders who can navigate these challenges with a conscious mindset has never been more critical. The time to adopt conscious leadership practices therefore is now.

WHY: Nurturing Wisdom, Empathy, and Clarity

The why of conscious leadership lies in its transformative power. By choosing to lead consciously, individuals nurture wisdom, empathy, and clarity—qualities that are foundational to effective leadership.

  • Curiosity permits you to get below the surface of your responsibilities and better understand the consequences of your actions, whilst building clarity and trust with your teams. (read more about curiosity and leadership here)
  • Wisdom enables leaders to make more informed decisions by drawing on personal experience, but also by acknowledging what they don’t know and asking questions about the broader context and impact.
  • Empathy fosters genuine connections, creating environments where individuals feel seen, heard, and valued, qualities that are essential for psychological safety. Something that we know is inextricably linked to performance.
  • Clarity provides the vision and focus needed to navigate challenges with purpose and confidence. By consciously reflecting on the motivations and behaviours of yourself and others and seeking to increase your awareness you are better able to pre-empt challenges and take action.

HOW: Striving for Greater Awareness

In practice conscious leadership involves an ongoing process of introspection and personal development. It starts with a commitment to self-awareness—understanding one’s values, strengths, and areas for growth and extends to social awareness, recognising the perspectives and needs of others. Mindful communication, active listening, and being curious are integral to the conscious leader’s toolkit. As is cultivating emotional intelligence, building resilience, and demonstrating adaptability.

Conscious Leadership - a commitment to awareness. Leading with curiosity, wisdom, empathy, clarity.

WHAT IF: Start levelling up your leadership

For many people it’s not that they aren’t convinced of the benefits of conscious leadership – it’s that they are unsure where to start. What are the right questions to ask of themselves and others? How do they identify their blindspots? Are there strategies that they could use to help improve the way they are communicating or making decisions?

Rest assured there are plenty of resources out there. You may want to start by doing some research on your own by exploring books and articles, or even watching videos. A more direct route is to connect with someone who can mentor or coach you through the process effectively, giving you the tools you need along the way.

In conclusion, conscious leadership is a concept that transcends roles and titles. It is the choice to use our influence on others with curiosity, wisdom, empathy, and clarity. With a world that is characterised by unprecedented interconnectedness, complexity and challenges, we are in even greater need of conscious leadership. And it starts with you. By embracing conscious leadership, you can not only enhance your effectiveness and impact, but contribute to the creation of positive and meaningful experiences for those who look up to you.

At Thrive Executive our core focus is to develop conscious leadership for growth-minded and people-focussed organisations – individually or as part of a team. Our training can be delivered on a one-on-one coaching basis, short workshops or longer tailored programs. If you have any questions about how we work with our clients to develop more conscious leaders, we’d love to chat.

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