By Daniel Friedland, MD
Conscious Leadership emphasizes creating and sustaining an optimal leadership mindset with the goal of creating purpose driven, strategically focused thriving organizations, that know how to create maximal impact, especially in times of stress and overwhelm.
The term Conscious Leadership has been popularized by Conscious Capitalism, an organization established and engaged by leaders of companies such as Whole Foods, Southwest Airlines and Starbucks, to elevate humanity through the practice of conscious business.
The four key principles of conscious business include: higher purpose, stakeholder orientation, conscious leadership and conscious culture Conscious Capitalism states that “Conscious Leaders focus on ‘we,’ rather than ‘me.’ They inspire, foster transformation and bring out the best in those around them. They understand that their role is to serve the purpose of the organization, to support the people within the organization and to create value for the all of the organization’s stakeholders. They recognize the integral role of culture and purposefully cultivate a Conscious Culture of trust and care.”
While Conscious Leaders and their organizations seek purpose beyond profit, purpose and profit are by no means mutually exclusive. Research shows that purpose drives profit. Raj Sisodia, researched 28 companies that were closely aligned to purpose-driven Conscious Capitalism principles. In his book “Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose,” he studied the cumulative performance of these companies over a fifteen-year period from 1998 through 2013 and found these high-performing organizations have outperformed the S&P by a factor of 14 to 1.
In “Leading Well from Within: A Neuroscience and Mindfulness-Based Framework for Conscious Leadership,” I’ve outlined the core qualities of High Performance Conscious Leaders. These leaders embody a Creative Mindset. They relate well to others and are self-aware, present, resilient, authentic, compassionate and courageous. They also have clear vision, are strategically focused and know how to get purpose-driven results. These leaders are masterful communicators and collaborators. They inspire trust and confidence. Since we are wired to connect, these qualities cascade into an organization. This creates a healthier, energized, and actively engaged culture that has been shown to drive business performance and a thriving enterprise.
Among the greatest threats to Conscious Leadership is unmanaged stress. Stress may instinctively activate survival parts of your brain that prevent conscious awareness, empathy and innovation. This typically results in a Reactive Mindset, exhibited by fight and flight-related fear-based reactions and qualities associated with Low Performance Leadership. Unmanaged stress can impede the ability of leaders to think clearly, fully connect with and inspire others, and lead to destructive conflict, or worse yet artificial harmony, both of which yields an unhealthy culture of disengagement.
While research clearly shows that stress can damage health, relationships and productivity, the new science of stress shows that certain types of stress can actually protect health, enhance relationships and fuel a Creative Mindset and High Performance Conscious Leadership.
“In Leading Well from Within,” I share my 4 in 4 Framework to Engage Conscious Leadership, a four-step neuroscience and mindfulness-based process with which leaders can more effectively navigate stress and proactively shift from a reactive to a creative mindset.
The four steps of my framework empower you to:
1. Recognize and manage reactivity
In this step you recognize your reactive sensations, thoughts, feelings and behaviors and specific steps to take the edge off these reactions to find greater composure in the heat of the moment if they are doing you and others more harm than good.
2. Reappraise stress and self-doubt
Here you reframe the way you experience stress and self-doubt so you feel greater security in neutralizing their harmful effects, as well as greater confidence in being able to redirect, leverage and better focus this energy as an asset to achieve the outcomes that matter most.
3. Cultivate creativity
Enables you to clarify your purpose and align your vision, strategy, implementation and desired results so you can optimize your health, relationships and work to experience greater significance and fulfillment in your life.
4. Catalyze growth
Transforms your internal dialogue by showing you to ask better questions and find, evaluate and apply your answers to continually learn and grow.
These steps are not only key for deepening your purpose, emotional intelligence and intrapersonal mastery to lead well from within. They also vital to enhancing your social intelligence and interpersonal mastery to lead well in the world!
As you engage these purposeful steps as a Conscious Leader, you continually expand your capacity to inspire, influence and cultivate an actively engaged and high performing culture that can make an even bigger impact in the lives of all who you serve.
Dr. Daniel Friedland, CEO of SuperSmartHealth, is author of “Leading Well from Within: A Neuroscience and Mindfulness-Based Framework for Conscious Leadership.” Dr. Friedland is co-chair of Conscious Capitalism San Diego, which holds its 2017 Cause Conference September 8 at UC San Diego’s Price Center.