Check out Mark Lefko’s new Conscious Leadership Connection website – an incredibly good focus for conscious leadership across the world.
Intuition has been nudging me for a while now, telling me that Sept, Oct, Nov are going to be months when we see a surge in the establishment of conscious capitalism, conscious business and conscious leadership in the UK. And so it has been.
On Tuesday this week the Conscious Capitalism Institute held a lunch in London hosted by Raj Sisodia. Raj, author of Firms of Endearment, took us through his presentation on conscious capitalism – it was inspirational hearing it from its source – and expressed his desire to establish a centre for CCI in the UK alongside other centers in Australia, South America and elsewhere. Timothy Henry from Arête will have this as his brief, but there were plenty of willing helpers around the table, including myself and Sarah Morris from The Global Institute of Conscious Leadership, Erica Uffindell from the Uffindell Group and Pinea3, and Pete Burden and Rob Warwick from Conscious-BusinessUK, along with several others who share a passion for conscious leadership and conscious business.
Two days later and this evening saw the launch of Pinea3 in London through Erica, accompanied by Pinea3 founder Enric Bernal. Pinea3 works with organisations as living energy systems and creates balance and growth where these are currently lacking to create more conscious companies and conscious leaders.
On Monday next week Conscious-BusinessUK holds its second London meeting, having already been established in Brighton for over a year.
To top it all, John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, will be in London in November and will be spending far more time here in the future. We aim to host an event to coincide with his trip, bringing together companies under the umbrella of conscious capitalism, conscious business and conscious leadership for the first time in the UK.
All in all, it seems at the moment like the forces are congregating to cause a propulsion of conscious capitalism in the UK, centered in London. There is a tremendous sense of collaboration, information sharing and co-creation going on here right now amongst the people who are passionate about doing business in this way and promoting and growing it as mainstream in the marketplace. We have all come together through what seems like synchronicity, helped by the Internet. To me, it feels rather like the explosion of the coffee culture in Seattle, the concentration of IT culture in Silicon Valley or the emergence of consciousness in and around Boulder, Colorado. London is a center for the drawing together of these strands of energy and activity around conscious business. The timing is right, and the time is ripe for change, coinciding beautifully as it does with the difficulties in European and UK businesses and government and the need for an alternative to emerge.
In exploring what a Conscious Leader leading in a Conscious Business pursuing Conscious Capitalism actually means, the views are ever-evolving and building on one another to form a clearer picture that will light the way for leaders drawn to pursuing this path.
This paper describes a perspective on where a Conscious Leader lies in comparison to a traditional leader, aimed at making the territory clearer. (.pdf available for download here).
Conscious Leadership can be viewed along two axes:
X – axis: The axis of DOING, comprised of what the leader focuses on every day, how far his* (or her) worldview extends.
Y – axis: The axis of BEING, comprising who the leader is being in his role. Being determines mindset, behaviour and way of interacting with others.
These two axes INTERSECT at the point of PROFIT. Without profit, the business cannot exist.
The dotted red line denotes the traditional field of focus for leaders in a capitalist system: a focus on PROFIT and the SHAREHOLDERS to the business as being of primary importance. All other stakeholders are secondary.
The extent of the leader’s ‘field of effect’ if governed by his EGO or IDENTITY. Ego is the point around which all of us are contracted. It represents our beliefs, our values and our conditioned patterns. It also represents everything we think of as ‘mine’: my job, my house, my wife, my name – and everything we think of as ‘me’: I am a leader, I am a male, I am successful (or I am not), I work for XYZ company. It is the illusion of who we think we are, and when we are not able to see outside of this illusion we are subject to being governed by its conditioned patterns, thereby living and leading UNCONSCIOUSLY.
The ego is focused purely on self-perpetuation. It is therefore founded in FEAR. Fear of losing parts of ourselves. Fear of losing our security. Fear of losing our position. Fear of uncertainty. Fear of being made to be wrong, look bad or lose control of our circumstances. It evokes in us DEFENSIVENESS against anything that threatens our sense of self. These kinds of reactions are widespread and easily recognisable in most organisations – and in ourselves.
Pursuing PROFIT and POWER fits in very well with the nature of the ego-driven leader. By securing profit and power at all costs, the leader gets to maintain the illusion of his own ego.
This becomes obviously limiting when one is able to extend one’s perspective to see beyond the context of the ego-driven leader. Much more is available than the ego can see, namely the potential to act into a field of possibilities (as reported by modern day science via quantum physics) without the illusionary boundaries (mindset, beliefs, reactions) of the ego. This field of possibilities is less accessible to the ego-full leader because he is too concerned about maintaining his position and his security. He suffers from a mindset of SCARCITY rather than ABUNDANCE.
Even where traditional leaders may engage in SELF-DEVELOPMENT via traditional coaching, leadership programmes, the development of EQ and other forms of personal development and knowledge development, the EGO still rules. Without becoming aware of one’s own ego and seeing its influence on our lives, and its inherently illusionary nature, the leader is limited to only ever going so far in his personal development. At best, he can expect to understand more and more about his own STORY. However, our story about ourselves, our life, what made us who we are, what our beliefs and patterns are, can only take us so far – to the outer limits of our own story. It cannot take us beyond this. To go beyond our own story we need to notice the illusion that the story is. Our story is founded on our ego’s or identity’s patterns and responses – and, ultimately, our identity is not who we are.
At this point, in recognising this, the leader has the potential to step outside of his ego. He becomes able to occupy a vantage point outside of his conditioned patterns and unconscious behaviour, observing it rather than having a perspective only from within it. When the ego or identity is recognised for what it is, an illusion, the leader gains access to the field of being beyond ego.
At this point, the leader has entered into the field of the CONSCIOUS LEADER. This is depicted by the placement of the green dotted line. This is not to say that this green line represents the outer limits of the Conscious Leader. Rather, it is meant to imply that anything outside of the red line depicting the ego enters into the field of the Conscious Leader.
He enters into a field of possibility where he is in creation much more than he is in reaction, and where DEEPENING his connection with his self and HEIGHTENING the expression of his authentic self becomes ever more possible.
Because the Conscious Leader is freer from the conditioned patterns and limitations of his ego, he is able to act less from fear and more in SERVICE OF THE GREATER WHOLE. In Conscious Capitalism terms, this means acting for the GREATER SYSTEM of which the business is part. Rather than relying on a focus on profit and shareholders as a way of maintaining security, the Conscious Leader is able to be far more abundant, extending his focus, widening his worldview and focusing on all stakeholders. In Conscious Business terms, these include the employees, the suppliers, the community of which the business forms part, society, and the environment.
As practised in Conscious Capitalism, profit is still important. However, it is not pursued at the expense of everything and everyone else connected to the business. The Conscious Leader strives to maximize the benefits and coordinates the needs of all the stakeholders in the business, keeping his perspective wide and inclusive.
Conscious Leadership depicts a move from ‘me’ to ‘we’. It requires one to move beyond one’s ego or identity so that one can act for the whole that is greater than oneself, the whole to which one and one’s business is connected. The deepened BEING of the Conscious Leader enables him to connect with a HIGHER PURPOSE that is greater than profit alone. Connecting to this higher purpose provides an energetic alignment for everyone connected to the business – and the Conscious Leader’s role is to coordinate this connection while ensuring that the business is run in an operationally sound manner as well. Research indicates an increase of over nine times more profit in businesses run in this way and far more sustainability during tough times.
In terms of the coordinates of the Unconscious Leader, therefore, these can be seen to be located squarely within the red circle, wherever that leader’s ego might be placed. The coordinates of the CONSCIOUS LEADER, on the other hand, exist anywhere outside of this area towards the green circle, with the possibility of expanding ever outwards into the space of possibility. This represents a new way of leading and of doing business.
I’ve just returned from being an observing attendee of Beyond CoachingTM, a programme designed to create conscious leaders in the workplace – and to create whole teams of them.
The client was a private healthcare group and they suffered from the usual discontent of organisations in general, and healthcare companies in particular – trying to lead disgruntled nurses unhappy with their pay, the impact of this on the customers, silo behaviour between divisions, fuelled by assumptions about ‘those over there in accounts’. You know the sort of thing. You’ve seen it in your own organisations and, if you’re a consultant, you’ve dealt with it every day.
But something slowly started to shift over the course of the two days. By lunchtime on day 2 the team members came back to the room saying they could really see that things could begin to change in their organisation as a result of what they were doing here. I saw them getting excited by the possibilities of life and work outside of their normal boxes of seeing the world. They began developing a common language for how to take powerful action, impact others and reality, and create the results they were seeking in the most direct route possible. They were less weighed down by the stories and impasses that afflict us in organisational life.
What were they doing? Not the usual coaching skills programme. Not typical leadership or even team development. This was something very different.
Beyond CoachingTM is not ‘training’. It’s not ‘doing to’ or ‘applying’ a different set of skills to what already exists in leaders. It’s not (only) about adding knowledge, like an MBA would. It was about shifting who they were being. The shift happens in the room, over the period of time the modules take place, and it is irrevocable.
Picture a tree. You can add a lot of new leaves to the tips of the branches and call it change. But the tree still stands in the position it was. Beyond CoachingTM moves the whole trunk, roots and all, to a better place. Who these leaders were being was being shifted from a less powerful to a more powerful position, a position of higher perspective. They saw more. In fact, they were engaged in the process of seeing how they were seeing. This created a whole lot more consciousness in the room. They were shifting to becoming conscious leaders.
What shifted? Greater self-responsibility, honesty and transparency. Greater awareness, more choice of response. The ability to impact those they lead in a clear, energetic way, causing them to shift as well. Communication that creates results and directly impacts reality. The importance of integrity and honouring commitments, to themselves and each other, and holding each other accountable. Everybody changing together – as a team. They began to climb out of the holes that the habits and conditioning of a lifetime had created (as it does in all of us), and started seeing the expansive possibility of the world around them for the first time. It was intoxicating.
Beyond CoachingTM delivers the following:
- A permanent shift in the being of the leader
- Tools to use in life and work, to get out of victimhood and into creation
- Refined skills in communicating, coaching and leading others
- And, if chosen, an ICF-accreditated coaching qualification. Most coaching programmes I have seen add leaves to the top of the tree.
Beyond CoachingTM changes the gameplan. It taps into the potential lying dormant in your organisation and develops the competence inhouse to identify the champions, and coach and lead them to greatness. As a result, the whole organisation expands, evolves and performs exponentially better.
Prompted by an article by Martin Lindstrom (The Future of Ethics in Branding), I got to thinking about whether that paragon of unethical business, the advertising industry, could indeed make the quantum leap towards ethical and conscious business.
After all, advertising’s raison d’être is to beguile us, seduce us, manipulate and lie to us, all the while making us feel good about ourselves. It plays directly and unashamedly into our egos – which is exactly what conscious business and conscious leadership isn’t about.
Sound boring not to succumb to it? Apparently not. Even advertising and branding has felt the pressure of the gathering zeitgeist towards more ethical and conscious behaviour.
Lindstrom, a brand futurist and author of books such as BRANDchild and BRANDsense, predicted how personal brands would take over our worlds just prior to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter making this a reality in our lives, and his prediction for 2012 is a rise in the importance of ethics. This coincides nicely with the rise of consciousness and the focus on more ethical business practices and conscious capitalism that we are seeing today.
Lindstrom identifies a number of practices that the advertising industry can start taking seriously if they are to avoid being exposed or having their clients exposed through consumer action fuelled by social media (see previous post here on conscious business backlash over soda wars: how consumer action can overthrow giants bent on unethical practices). These advertising practices dovetail well with conscious business behaviours, so it is worth pointing out the big themes here:
Rule No. 1: Transparency
Rule No. 2: The power of the Consumer
Rule No. 3: Consider your impact on others
Unpacking each one of these in turn and borrowing liberally from Lindstrom:
Rule No. 1 – Transparency:
Transparency is one of the unwritten rules of conscious businesses. From making financial information available to all employees to having an ‘open book’ detailing what everybody in store is being paid, conscious businesses don’t run themselves by subterfuge and fear. These are the instruments of the ego: gaining advantage for one’s own survival through power-play, while in the process disadvantaging others. Similarly, Lindstrom recommends that advertising follows the same code: be 100% transparent. This is done by making sure that claims about products and brands stack up to reality, that your consumers know exactly what you know about them, that they know how you will use this information and are able to opt out at any time, that the downsides of products and services are well-communicated alongside their strengths and benefits, that expiration dates are visibly communicated, endorsements and testimonials are real and that nothing ‘hides behind’ legalese and small print from the customer’s point of view.
Rule No. 2 – The power of the Consumer:
Let consumers make the final call. This is very similar to some conscious businesses (like Whole Foods Market) where the customer is placed in the foreground of all stakeholders. Lindstrom recommends securing an ethical sign-off from a consumer panel regarding their perception of the product, as well as verifying the ethics of the product in reality. We know from recent experience that consumers have a voice and if they are dissatisfied, if your business practices or advertising standards don’t match their values and ethics, or if you stray too far from the line, you will experience a powerful backlash through the unstoppable influence of social media. Consumers are all connected: you want them to be positively connected about you. It’s a great self-organising system, forcing us to all become more conscious of what we say and do.
Rule No 3 – Consider your impact on others:
In conscious business speak, this rule plays out by considering and integrating the needs of all your stakeholders so that they all benefit, not having some benefit at the expense of others. Your stakeholders include your employees, your customers, your suppliers and partners, your shareholders and investors, the community of which your business forms part, the wider society and the environment. In Lindstrom’s terms, he recommends that advertising is always open and transparent about the environmental impact of the brands it promotes, including their carbon footprint and sustainability. And, from a human perspective, don’t do anything to others – and especially their kids – that you wouldn’t do to your own kids, friends and family.
These three rules appear to be emerging as a sort of set of ‘Golden Rules’ guiding our conducting of business. Overlaying each other, they create a web of self-regulating behaviour that prompts us towards becoming more conscious and taking more self-responsibility for our actions. Transparency borne out of global connectivity and social media, powered by the opinions and values of connected consumers the world over who care about the origins of what they buy, and who require businesses to act responsibly for the collective benefit of all. This is the stuff that revolutions are made of, not just to a slightly different rearrangement of the deckchairs but to an entirely new order of thinking.
With thanks to Kellee Franklin who posted the original Lindstrom article on LinkedIn’s Group: Conscious Capitalists – Pacific NW.