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Conscious leadership TODAY’S LEADERS URGENTLY NEED A NEW STYLE OF LEADERSHIP any of us were educated according to the principle that answers are more important than questions. Someone always knew better than us and we had to learn from him or her. Things have changed. Now, in cultivating leadership, the teachers often know less than the students; so they do not consider themselves teachers, but coaches in the art of learning more about oneself and what is relevant to one’s own development. This “conscious leadership” approach makes asking questions the key to learning. The fundamental principle is that prospective leaders ask questions of themselves and answer them themselves; they have the courage to learn from their own experience. In recent times companies have had to accustom themselves to coping with circumstances that change at breakneck speed. Social and cultural trends are transforming the way humans lead productive lives. A revolution is in progress. In the words of American author Ken Wilber, “the human being is evolving towards higher levels of consciousness that allow us to consider being, not only having.” The knowledge worker, an important asset to any organisation nowadays, has concerns very different from those of workers of the preceding era. Today there is a new view of the relationship between the individual and the company. The new generation’s philosophy of life gives them a different approach to professional development. The balance between work and personal life is a priority.


Strategic imperatives

Leaders struggle to cope with such changes and must alter their practices, models and values. These challenges require a new form of leadership, a new view of human beings. The retention of talent, a sustainable business, a new culture based on core values, new rules and procedures, and a new relationship with human capital are the strategic imperatives of this century. In this new scenario, leaders must understand the implications of having aligned the spirit, creativity and human ingenuity of team members with their business strategy. That can be achieved by creating a new corporate culture using a conscious leadership style. Every era brings new paradigms and models that lead to changes in behaviour. With a new era, these models are reviewed, and generate other models for behaviour by creating a new culture. This is the era of knowledge, and we have left behind the industrial-era models. But it is important to realise that while the industrial era is behind us, the behaviour that went with this bygone era is still common. While we have taken a big leap forward in the way we treat human beings within organisations, if we look deeply, we can see that some kinds of behaviour persist. We can boast that we no longer “commoditise” human beings as we did in the industrial era, when an individual was regarded as a cog in the machine, a commodity. It is clear that human capital is increasingly becoming the most important asset for companies. But we are taking only the first steps towards a new consciousness of this. Completely putting aside the paradigm of the industrial era APRIL 2011

is no easy task; it requires a new view of the human being. The classic patterns of thought that have dominated recent decades understand the human being from the intellectual, physical and emotional dimensions. Perhaps this is not enough.

Incomplete paradigm

The Newtonian model of science that dominated thinking for so long only conceives of what exists. This model does little to help us understand something as intangible and formless as the human spirit. Only recently, in the West, have we begun to fathom the spiritual dimension. That is why most of our behaviour is meant to nurture us physically, mentally and sometimes emotionally. However, it costs us a lot to mature as spiritual beings, with a more powerful essence and consciousness of our own intellect. In the words of best-selling author Stephen Covey in his book “The 8th Habit”: “Ultimately there is only one reason, very simple and general, that so many people are dissatisfied with their work and that most organisations are unable to harness the talent, ingenuity and creativity of [their] staff ... The reason is an incomplete paradigm of who we are, our fundamental view of human nature. The fundamental reality is that human beings ... have four dimensions: body, mind, heart and spirit.”


degree of consciousness, in which the core values and the achievements of organisational goals coexist within a new culture. This new culture demands a leap from merely effective leadership to inspirational leadership, leaving aside the petty, exclusive and selective game of the ego to achieve creative and inclusive leadership. This means approaching leadership from the inside out, with leaders developing first their own self-leadership, and only then leading individuals, teams and organisations. The conscious leader should include in his programme, training to develop interpersonal, ethical, spiritual and emotional skills. In today’s world, it is important that we lead our lives with dignity, consistency, ethics, commitment, discipline and love. So we can only be good leaders of others if we are good leaders of ourselves. The traditional paradigm of leadership is about leading others. Today, leadership requires other skills and competencies such as self-awareness, personal vision, inspiration, purpose and passion. All these are important for improving the performance and effectiveness of individuals in organisations. Today, to lead others, or having a leader, is not enough. Today, one of the keys to personal effectiveness and greatness is self-leadership. This involves knowing yourself, knowing who you are, how you can contribute, what talents you have and where you want to go. Personal leadership can be considered a way of being or thinking, a way of showing your interpretation of the world around you and your interaction with it. It has nothing to do with learning and knowing about others; it has to do with a deep knowledge of your nature and your capacities.

Expanded consciousness

The new challenge for us is to transcend the traditional, mechanical, hard-thinking model and explore new human dimensions. Understanding human existence in all its dimensions is one of the tasks of all leaders. Today, people want their leaders to focus not only on the achievement of objectives; we look for leaders who know how to deliver in every other aspect of life. The leaders of the future will be those who can develop new capabilities by integrating the stock of old knowledge with the new demands. The new leaders must forge a way of thinking and of relating to others from a new perspective – social, moral, emotional and spiritual. They will acquire this new wealth of skills and capabilities in the course of their own human development. The new leaders will have an inclusive and generous way of thinking. Their new capabilities will be based on a new scale of values to be anchored more in the ability “to be” rather than the ability “to have”.

Inspirational approach

Leading in the 21st century does not mean losing focus of achieving organisational goals, productivity and effectiveness. It involves being able to go beyond that and attain a higher

Thus, the conscious leader sees the world as an opportunity to contribute, using their gifts and talents. They are able to reach their goals through their passion for what they do. Their starting points are simple basic questions: How can I contribute? What can I add here? What do I have to learn to be a better human being and increase my effectiveness? Expanded consciousness, within the framework of organisations and management, affects the attitude and behaviour of leaders, presenting a new perspective that allows them to lead effectively, according to a new scale of values. Today, more than ever, organisations need inspirational leadership based on values such as transparency, integrity, honesty, and the ability to create and to connect with, cooperate with and develop others. Today, more than ever, a leader must know how to lead by example. Human relations based on this new perspective are one of the values that 21st century organisations must have to exploit creative, innovative and intelligent human capital. Successful organisations of the future will be those that can capitalise on the spirit, imagination and intelligence of people in a way that no traditional authoritarian organisation could ever achieve. It is important to understand that to access the genius and talent of people and to use them in the service of the organisation, the organisation must have leaders that arouse and encourage this attitude. Otherwise people will continue to work only for a pay cheque. APRIL 2011

Conscious Leadership  

Macau Business News Magazine April's Article

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