As the world continues to evolve around us, leaders are being tested at a level that many of us have never experienced before. To lead our organisations into the new level of change and evolution, we need a new set of leadership skills. The old standard of business is crumbling because it was not sustainable. It failed in its critical role of supporting and nurturing the Earth and everything on it — something it could quite easily do if its course was being directed by leaders who care.
The worldwide crisis of leadership is increasingly evident in political arenas, where many leaders in government are more interested in seeking their own re-election than in serving the constituencies that elected them. Similarly, in business, self-centred, self-serving, self-preservation is seen more often than an attitude of service to others. Despite the overwhelming evidence of poor leadership, people everywhere are waking up, seeing themselves, others and the world around them more clearly and aspiring to be of service to humanity.
“If only a world-wide consciousness could arise that all division and fission are due to the splitting of opposites in the psyche, then we should know where to begin.”
Sleeping Beauty Leaders
This is no fairy tale, and not everyone is going to wake up. No handsome prince is on his way to magically arouse the Sleeping Beauty leaders. Some will remain asleep, blind to their unconscious habits and the opportunities for greater personal fulfillment available to them if they chose to wake up. Unconscious leaders ignore the negative impact they have on their followers and fail to reach their own leadership potential. Many of these unconscious leaders are the workplace bullies we so often find in today’s organisations. According to Andrew Faas, Bully to Bull’s-Eye, bullying in the workplace is one of the biggest societal and economic issues we face today. No one wants to work for a workplace bully.
The one thing we all know about bullies is that, deep down, they are complete cowards who are wounded and scared. Hurt-people, hurt people. Becoming enlightened is to go within and shine the light on yourself so you can dissolve whatever darkness is in there. All healing is reinterpreting what you believe has happened to you. When you do this, everything changes and, what was once perfect for you, may not be anymore. In order to keep changing and growing, we must go within and listen for that which is right for us in the here and now.
Unlike Sleeping Beauty, we do have a choice about waking up. During this Great Awakening we are seeing many hundreds of thousands choosing to do just that. For those still chained to the old, crumbling paradigm, where mainstream media and the words of public officials are never doubted, it will become exceedingly more difficult and confusing to sort out the truth. Various mundane and nefarious forces are in a desperate battle for your attention because your attention represents where and how you focus your energy for creating the reality you encounter. The courage to fearlessly ask questions is at the core of your awakening.
“At any particular time, leaders are operating from either fear or love.”
I Don't Want to Wake up!
By clinging to various stages of denial, you can decide to remain sleeping or you can choose to wake up and begin the journey to conscious leadership. All choice is with you. You can choose to pay attention to your inner voices and your external behaviours. You can choose to listen to other people using all your senses. You can choose to be more mindful of your impact on the world around you. You can choose to lead with expansive energy and inspiration and to make a difference. How you use your awareness and your attention will determine the version of the world you create.
Whether your attention is on your own inner journey, the well-being of those around you or a grand vision of the future of humanity, becoming wide awake is essential. The journey to conscious leadership is about noticing what is going on, setting intentions and acting responsibly. In the old world of rigid hierarchical structures, we could get by with using position power to dominate and control employees. In the New Earth of flattened, collaborative networked systems, employee expectations are much higher. Leaders are called to inspire and engage employees to influence people and deliver results. Waking up will help to shift our perspective and have a more positive impact on those around us as we move from the old world to the New Earth.
“The moment you become aware of the ego in you, it is strictly speaking no longer the ego, but just an old, conditioned mind-pattern. Ego implies unawareness. Awareness and ego cannot coexist.”
5 Steps to Start Waking Up
Aspiring conscious leaders are waking up. They are noticing their inner voices and the voices of those around them. They are consciously setting intentions for how they are showing up in the world. They are aware of their leadership presence.
- Pause with Purpose
Stop! When the mind is absorbed only in the experience of gain and loss, and success and failure, it struggles between gaining power and protecting itself from feeling powerless. In either experience, we are engaged in a struggle. Stop what you are doing. Stop what you are thinking. A purposeful pause or a moment of mindfulness can create the space to notice what is going on. This can be as simple as taking a deep breath before opening the door to the room where the next meeting is being held or a more extensive time of silent meditation. Pause purposefully to quiet the mind and notice what is going on.
- Perspective Shift
To answer the human struggle of constantly vacillating between the experiences of joy and suffering, shift the perspective from WHAT you see (the experiences) to THAT which sees (the Seer). We all have inner voices constantly chattering away subconsciously in the background. What are those voices saying? Whose voices are they? Are they voices of caution and fear, or maybe voices of anger and frustration? Are they voices of compassion and love, or something else? Consciously noticing these voices can help us think about how we are showing up and how we want to show up now and in the future.
- Notice What is Being Said
Whether in real-time conversation with others or reading and responding to digital messages, consciously noticing the voices of the people around us can help us be more alert to what is going on. This requires us to listen generously, not only with our ears but with all our senses. What are the voices saying? What are we hearing? What sensations are we feeling in our bodies? Being conscious of those external voices and our reactions to what we are hearing can help us set intentions for our next interaction.
- Set Clear Intentions
Once we have begun waking up to what is going on in our inner and outer worlds, we can consciously decide how we wish to show up. This relates to our character and presence. Character is who we are, our true nature, and presence is a reflection of our character and how we show up in the world as perceived by others. What is your intention for how you wish to show up? How is your leadership presence being manifested? Is your intention to show up with a commanding presence to get the job done, regardless of the consequences or accusations of being the workplace bully? Or is your intention to show up with love and compassion to achieve the goal, with attention to the needs of people around you? Setting clear intentions programs the space and enables responsible action.
5. Radical Responsibility
Being mindful of who we are and setting intentions about how we show up in the world allows us to take responsible action. Radical responsibly requires us to speak candidly while acting with integrity. How will you speak to members of your team or your family? How will you act to avoid harming the people and the environment around you? To what extent are you acting responsibly? Radical responsibility requires us to wake up, notice what is going on and set positive intentions about how we will show up in the world.
“If you’ve ever met an energy vampire (and you probably have), you’ll get the distinct feeling that this person has an intense need to prey off the vitality of others. There is a kind of acute neediness present in energy vampires which can be quite overwhelming and depleting to those they come in contact with.”
The Second Law
We pick up on each other’s vibe, or energetic presence, whether we are consciously aware of it or not. Meetings are a good example. We walk into a meeting and a couple of people feel really great, they seem really happy to be there. Then there’s that one person in the room with a really low vibe. What generally happens is other people catch that vibe. They meet the lowest vibration in the room, which means the lowest vibration can be contagious. Higher vibe people might try to hold their state for a little while, but ultimately, unless somebody is really good at holding their state, they’ll match the lower vibe. This is because energy always flows from high to low.
Everything is energy. The Second Law of Thermodynamics tells us that energy has an absolute unfailing tendency to go from “more concentrated” to “less concentrated”. Energy flows from a higher temperature to a lower temperature (heat flow). Energy flows from a higher pressure to a lower pressure (expansion). Energy flows from a higher gravitational potential to a lower gravitational potential (falling objects). And last, but not least, chemical reactions proceed from higher concentrations of molecular bond energy to lower bond energies.
For anything to happen, energy has to move or flow or change. Energy will keep flowing or changing from a higher concentration to a lower concentration until the concentrations are equal. It stops flowing when there is no longer a difference in concentration levels – when things have reached the great state of equilibrium. This is the reason you feel drained after interacting with low vibrational people – they literally feed off your energy. This is also why low vibrational people always feel so good after interacting with high-vibrational people.
“It is your divine right and your spiritual duty to protect your energy field from unwanted influences. In the wise words of the Mahatma, do not allow anyone to walk through your mind with their dirty feet.”
Beware! Energy Vampires Truly Suck
Energy vampires are the people who make you stop and think, “Do I have the energy to take this call?” when their names come up on your phone screen. They have demonstrated repeatedly that they will suck the life out of you in every interaction. These are people who seem to get your attention at the most inopportune times. They draw you into a conversation that leaves you feeling exhausted. You’ve probably tried to graciously get away, but you feel trapped. An energy vampire may interrupt you at every turn, be the purveyor of office gossip, or take way too long to leave your desk because they have “one more thing” that is so important. You leave the interaction feeling depleted and off-centre.
Other telling signs: They send out a lot of templates. They schedule lots of meetings. They exercise pocket vetoes on key decisions, and they stop action with their requests for one more round of analytics. They wait at the other end of emails, ready to fire off missives that force your people to stop serving customers and instead respond to yet another information request….. drainer!
“An energy vampire can never “steal” energy from us unless we consciously or unconsciously permit them to.”
3 Types of Energy Vampires in the Workplace
You can’t change other people, but you can take actions to gain control of your time. Here are practical steps you can take to minimise the distraction and keep your energy protected from this type of difficult co-worker. The first thing you need to know is what you are dealing with. Energy vampires come in many forms, and a few types are more common than others.
This person has a poor concept of personal boundaries. They really are just not aware of what’s appropriate to share at work and what isn’t. They have poor social skills and lack an understanding about the context of your relationship. Whether it’s deeply personal information (“I think my wife is having an affair”), or about a co-worker’s food choices, you really aren’t interested. They take up unreasonable amounts of your time talking and seem to think you are closer friends than you assume (or want to be). These individuals are highly attuned to rejection, so much so that they can’t seem to detach and move on when necessary. Whether you like it or not, you get sucked in and need to extract yourself from the situation.
What to do: Boundaries are key. Be kind, but short. Make sure you are clearly communicating. For instance “I don’t feel comfortable talking about so-and-so” or “This sounds important to you, but can we focus on A, B and C?”. Complement your words with strong non-verbal signals too. Stand up and motion towards closing your office door, start typing or walk away.
This energy vampire feels entitled to take up your time (obviously) because their agenda supersedes all. They brag about accomplishments, name drop and downplay the contributions of others. They somehow manage to do all of this in one brief encounter, leaving you reeling. They may even accuse you of being too sensitive or overly dramatic if you speak up to refute their point. Personalities like these are tough to take, but not impossible to work with.
What to do: First, recognise that this behaviour is an attempt to meet a need. In this case, it’s generally a desire to feel important and valued. The person may lack the self-awareness to go about meeting that need more appropriately. Armed with this understanding makes it easier to remain emotionally detached, since there’s a good chance they will take a subtle shot at you too. Assert yourself and get your point across by including something that validates their need while also standing your ground. For example, “I think that’s a great idea and I’d also like to explore doing XYZ” or “I’m glad we have smart people like you on the team. Thanks for your input. I would like to go in the direction we initially discussed”. You will be amazed at how well this person responds to you in the future.
This person wants detailed instruction and reassurance on a regular basis. They really don’t want to let you down and they are afraid to make any decisions that could jeopardise the success of the team or project. Unfortunately, this behaviour leads to learned helplessness. This type of energy vampire, while well-intentioned, may constantly ask questions or be fearful about taking action independently. As a consequence, they drag down productivity and your bandwidth along with it.
What to do: Curb the need to “fix” the situation each time they come running to you with a supposed “emergency”. This person needs assurance that they’re doing fine and are capable of making decisions, otherwise they wouldn’t have that job, right? Provide a snippet of positive feedback up front, then coach the person to find their own solutions or creatively problem solve. Show appreciation when the task is complete. Kindness is also key. Reacting with frustration will only make matters worse.
So, you’ve tried all this before and it’s not working. Or is it?
An energy vampire is used to being rewarded (fed energy) when people engage with them. When you take that source of energy away, they will try harder to get it. This is called an “extinction burst” and if it happens, your message is sinking in. Stand firm in your boundaries. It’s working. You are in control of your energy. You get to decide who you will give it to. By taking these steps you’ll find interactions get easier, freeing up your time, mental and emotional energy along with it. Most importantly, with healthier boundaries, you can bring your best work to the table.
“We often describe unconscious leaders as reactive. They react from a “story” about the past or an imagined future, and their personality, ego, or mind takes over.”
How Deep is your Self-Love?
In a world where motivating others is just one inspirational Instagram meme away, it can be easy to skirt the surface of what it really takes to embody true leadership. Conscious leadership is about more than being seen by others; it’s about seeing yourself. When a leader sets out to make a difference in the world, the motivation often stems from a desire to be of service to others, which is an undeniably powerful intention to have. However, in order to embody conscious leadership, you must start by looking at how you can be of service to your own growth, your own expansion, and your own willingness to step outside of your comfort zone over and over again.
“Authentic leadership is leading adaptively from your core, choosing who you’re most inspired to be to serve the greatest good in this moment.”
4 Steps to Conscious Leadership Development
As a conscious leader, your job isn’t to run around trying to save the world. Your job is to go within and do the inner work that allows you to show up as your most powerful, authentic, badass self – which will in turn inspire others to do the same. Conscious leadership requires you to identify, plan for, and move through the negative repetitive patterns that come up every time you’re about to step out of your comfort zone. These patterns can be self-sabotage, procrastination, fear of success, fear of failure, ego trips, comparison overload, and any other number of ways that you’ve learned to “play it safe” throughout your life.
#1. Right Here. Right Now
It’s tempting to skip over the “stuff” in your personal life or career that you’d rather not look at so you can hurry up and grow already. You know that you’ve picked up some negative patterns over the years that don’t serve you (procrastination, worry, planning for the worst, self-deprecating thoughts, self-sabotage, etc.) but it’s painful to look at and what’s the point of spending time with the stuff that holds you back? The point is that most detailed roadmap in the world is useless without first being able to determine where you are starting from. So, if you want to draw your roadmap to success, the most important skill is marking “I AM HERE’.
#2. Sharpen the Right Tools
Once you’ve identified where you are, it’s important to give yourself the tools that can support the kind of growth you want to experience. So often we pick up tools throughout our lives that are designed to numb out the “bad stuff” and eliminate fear or pain. Drinking, gossiping, avoiding responsibilities, and playing it safe are a few ways we do this. Here’s the thing: your fear and your pain are not the enemy. They are clues to the parts of yourself that are genuinely scared of growth. It’s called a “comfort zone” for a reason, and your fear will do everything it can to keep you there.
Safety actually plays a significant role in how quickly and consistently you will experience growth. The problem is, somewhere along the way you learned that “playing it safe” also meant “playing it small,” but that doesn’t have to be your only option. Implementing the kinds of tools that allow you to be with the “stuff” you’d rather not look at is really where the rubber meets the road for the conscious leader. Instead of using tools that numb your fear and pain, gather the tools that help you get to know more about yourself and the patterns that continue to emerge in your life and career. Working with a coach, finding a good therapist or surrounding yourself with people who practice this type of radical responsibility are all wonderful places to start. With the right tools in your tool belt, you are unstoppable.
#3. Stay In Your Own Lane
Authenticity is your X-factor – No one can do you like you do you. You bring to the table that thing no one else can recreate or even put their finger on. It’s that thing that makes people say, “I don’t know what it is, but I like you.” This is the kind of energy, the kind of permission, that is embodied by someone who fully accepts themselves for everything they are. All sides. The “good”, the “bad”, the “dark” and the “light.” The person who has danced with their shadows and still knows how unconditionally worthy you are. This is what attracts people to you, your self-proclaimed permission to be YOU.
People are running around asking for permission to dream, to build, to start and yet, we’re the only ones who hold the power to give it to ourselves. So, as a conscious leader, while it’s impossible for you to grant someone else permission to be themselves, it’s your duty to show someone what that looks like. Show others that it is safe to shine, that being different is something worth celebrating. Be a walking invitation for others to grant themselves permission to step into their own version of greatness.
#4. It’s Not What You Do, It’s How You Do It
Your audience, followers, fans and clients are inspired by how you show up in the world. When you commit to being seen, when you commit to showing up for yourself, when you commit to self-care and inner growth, you become the embodiment of conscious leadership. You become a mirror of what’s possible for others. Every time you grow, you invite your audience to do the same. Throughout each transformation that you experience in your life and career (and there will be many), you will be confronted with uncertainty, doubt, fear, ego-trips, and thoughts that are overwhelming enough to make you never want to get out of bed. And yet, with your tools in hand, you will rise like a phoenix every time.
You will move through each step once more, inviting even more growth and evolution into your life, because it’s not what you’re doing, it’s how you’re doing it. With trust. With conviction. With purpose. With intuition. With love.
Rinse and repeat.
That is how you develop conscious leadership.
In today’s climate, people are always on, overburdened and disconnected from themselves. They long for a higher purpose, but the opportunity to change can appear overwhelming or unattainable. For businesses, profit and financial gain are considered over-and-above anything else. Because of this, corporations, and by extension, whole industries are suffering from a lack of innovation, engagement and purposeful impact. The current system has reached its limit. Corporate responsibility is not enough; its implications for business are unclear and most initiatives fail to reconcile caring and profitability at a level deep enough to make a real impact.
Businesses and business leaders have an unprecedented opportunity to remain at the forefront of change by embracing a paradigm where business is a force for good, and good is a force for business. Consciously realise your true leadership potential. The world needs compelling leaders to role model what the future can look like if we have the courage to change. The world needs a new way, and people like YOU to show the way.
Our purpose is to pave the new way, one leader at a time.