My own journey through pregnancy and the transition to working motherhood has fuelled my passion for leadership and mentoring in the workplace. My experience has led me to study leadership and to consider the different ways in which it manifests itself in the employer-employee relationship. Employers have the power to mentor, develop and inspire people to achieve great things, not just in business, but for humanity.
Caring about people is the right way to do business. This is where conscious leadership comes in.
‘Conscious’ has become a bit of a buzz word lately. People don’t just do things, they do them consciously. (‘Mindful’ is another one. Even our office paper is ‘mindful’. I’m still trying to work that one out). Some people like to joke with me by pointing out that it is far better to do things consciously than unconsciously (ha!), but I see the deeper meaning and I’m all for the conscious movement.
Being conscious is not just about being awake. It is about being aware of and responding to your surroundings/thoughts/feelings/impact on others. Motherhood has forced me into a journey of self-reflection and personal growth. I am more aware (conscious, you might say!) of who I am now than I have ever been before. I know my values and beliefs and I am willing to stand up for them. This is why I subscribe to the conscious movement.
So, what is conscious leadership?
Conscious leadership is about inspiring the best in people. In contrast to traditional leaders, a conscious leader asks not just what you can give to them, but what they can give to you. Conscious leaders have a purpose bigger than themselves or their business objectives. They aim to build unity and use teamwork to meet everyone’s objectives. Conscious leaders recognise the human. They put people ahead of profits and prioritise a purpose bigger than their own organisation.
Why does it matter?
The organisations who are leading the way in gender diversity and flexible working are those whose leaders are conscious leaders. They know that their employees have so much more to their lives than just their work and they want to support them with those other things too. They inspire and bring out the best in people, rather than intimidating them to work harder and draining them for all they can.
What’s important from a business perspective though, is that conscious leadership is not only a good way to lead, it is a good way to do business as well. Starbucks is a prime example, as is Westpac.
The lesson is this: the starting point for businesses who want to do better by their employees, create a healthier, happier place to work and in doing so, create better performing and more highly engaged teams, is to consider the leadership style of those at the top.