What is Conscious Leadership?

What is Conscious Leadership?
What is Conscious Leadership?

This month we launched our FH Insights Book Club. Over the course of the year, we will be reading and reviewing some of the best, recent books on personal growth, human behaviour and leadership. Our first book is Conscious Leadership by ex Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. So what exactly is Conscious Leadership and how does it apply to your life?

Conscious Leadership stems from John Mackey's first book - Conscious Capitalism. In this book Mackey and marketing professor Raj Sisodia coined the term Conscious Capitalism; it describes 'business that operates ethically whilst in the pursuit of profit'. Mackey and Sisodia argue that businesses should not exist solely to serve shareholders and that all stakeholders - including the employees, environment and community should guide the direction of the business.

Conscious Leadership is the mechanism by which Conscious Capitalism is realised. Conscious Leadership means that as a leader you lead with values, purpose and integrity. It comes from a place of yearning and learning - of knowing that you can always do better and doing the work to become self-aware and humble in your leadership of others.

One of the components of Conscious Leadership is to Lead with Love. Love is unarguably an important factor in all of our lives, but not something that we usually associate with leadership. Mackey's love as a part of leadership stems from another popular concept - that of servant leadership. The leader as a servant is one who serves the organisation, rather than wielding power over it. The servant-leader prioritises the needs of others and positions themselves at the bottom of the hierarchy, serving all the organisations stakeholders. It is not too much of a leap from servant leadership to leading with love.

Let's take a closer look at the qualities that are important when leading with love.

Generosity - This is about an expression of abundance. In order to give to others, Mackey says we first need to be able to give to ourselves. We also need to recognise that generosity is beneficial not only to the recipient but to the giver too, once we do this our desire to give will grow. Conscious leaders are generous with their time; they are generous with their knowledge and mentor those less experienced and they are generous with their service.

Gratitude - gratitude is a simple and effective way to increase your happiness. It is easy to focus on the negative, but when we do this our own experience of the world will be more negative - we get what we focus on. By practising gratitude we expand our awareness of the positive in our world and bring more joy and happiness into our life. When leaders practise gratitude their positivity spreads throughout the organisation.

Appreciation - Mackey says that one of the leaders most important jobs is to see, recognise and appreciate excellence when they see it. To be impactful appreciation must be authentic, we have a highly tuned radar for inauthenticity and this will have the opposite effect. In Ken Blanchard's ever-popular The One Minute Manager, he popularised a practice that he called, 'catching people doing something right.' It's easy to do the opposite so why not try turning your attention instead of appreciation and recognition.

Care - Apple CEO Tim Cook said - "People will try to convince you that you should keep empathy out of your career. Don't accept this false promise." When leaders treat people with apathy, indifference or simply as a resource to be used for profit, they are demonstrating that they don't care about them as human beings. If leaders don't care why should employees?

Compassion - Mackey argues that leaders who are able to express genuine compassion will awaken a spiritual quality within themselves that will inspire others. "True compassion creates loyalty, trust and commitment in others. Compassion brings us together and reminds us of what is most important in life."

Forgiveness - Forgiveness is something that doesn't come easy to most of us. Too many people hold onto grievances and wear them like a coat of armour. Holding onto blame saps our energy and takes important time away from more valuable activities. Forgiveness doesn't mean we forget or abscond others of responsibility, but it does mean that we free ourselves of judgement, blame and victimization.

Now we have framed love in these six qualities, does leading with love sound so crazy? I think if leaders everywhere brought more love into their work we would have a more engaged, happy and motivated workforce, lower staff turnover, high productivity and stronger trust and relationships.

Leading with Love is just one principle within Conscious Leadership. If you are keen to know more, join us in the FH Insights Book Club.