WHAT IS A CONSCIOUS LEADER?
WANTED: Leaders who are waking up to the VUCA world, embracing it and letting “the new” emerge through them - not managers following rules or populistic trends enabling growth that matters.
The Corona Crisis is an, despite the strong negative impacts short term, midterm evolutionary catalyst to our outer and inner problems. As always things have get worse before the get better. As I have written in my previous article „a new level of consciousness is emerging“. This social or better physical distancing brings out the best of us humans: We feel more empathetic, we consume less but feel more and we are reconnecting to ourself, family and nations. We expand our human capacity from ego- to ecosystems. Even the caused CO2 reduction is collaterally healing the world. So there is a collective consciousness evolution happening right now and the strong state gives us clarity and orientation through strong freedom reducing laws. But what will happen afterwards? The complexity and the chaos will be higher than ever before. The business-models have to be reshaped, unemployment handled carefully and the social systems rebuild continuing with ongoing corona infections every year. What are our sense making frameworks, how are we able to make better decisions under complexity and uncertainty and economic pressure? The existing models and institutions are not complexity conscious or people centric enough. They are to slow, local, money focussed and are causing to much problems by externalization of their psychological, social and planetary impacts. They are bureaucratic and build for a stable world. So we need an mindset and systems upgrade of the consciousness of leaders and their leadership systems to cope better with this ever changing exponential world now.
The “Conscious Leader“ role model
For rethinking our lifestyle, our businesses and the whole society a new kind of leadership is needed and new breed of leaders will take over. They have to see, feel more and act more freely from within. In the complex and ever changing VUCA World it´s time for exploring leadership possibilities and then management second. Now are leaders born, who are able to make decision guided by their inner compass and values not waiting for laws and orders from higher authorities. They so not follow dysfunctional standards or conventions. They are woken up to themselves. They are authentically leading from within showing their own vulnerability to their followers and are so connecting to their belonging needs and are co-creating a new purposeful community to solve the crisis or start to rethink their business model to make it more human, helping their employees to become their best versions and fostering growth that matters like my nordic friends like to say. To execute this new frameworks we need 100% of classic management skills, discipline, diligence and a clear decision making processes. Based on a clear legitimation. If it is top down, consent, or consents. It doesn't matter what if it is agreed consciously upfront and it works. The fashionable model of New Work „holocracy“ is not working most of the times. Because it is just an theory without evidence (The „inventor“ Zappos is not doing it anymore) and most of the existing cultures are not ready for it. So what shifts are needed to take the evolutionary step or MNDSHFT in Leadership:
From Horizontal to Vertical: The first point I want to outline is the perspective shift from acquiring horizontal skills, like agile management, design thinking or a new language, to the vertical development of human consciousness over a lifetime, from cradle to grave. As you can see in your maturation, this is always a process of feeling, seeing, thinking, reflecting and being more the older you get. Sometimes we get stuck at the level of the so-called achiever, who is trying to achieve given goals with given rules in a given life or management framework. The rational leader. Here comes the problem: You cannot solve VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguity) problems with 3D management thinking, where we try to solve things with conventional operating systems and common sense like we always did it. Transformation means, thinking and doing things we never did before. Work with people, mindsets which we never did. We have to overcome this by growing out of the conventional framework to get unstuck. For example discovering everything where we said before: „this is not me“ or „this is not my community or network“. So, conscious growth is vertical, not horizontal. If this is too esoteric for you, just imagine walking up a mountain. The higher you get, the broader the perspectives you see, the more varied your experiences, the greater your feeling of being connected. Then you walk down again and tell this to the people in the valley, to motivate them to go up into the mountains themselves to experience the new. That is consciousness development. Your mountain is calling!
From Victim to Self-Author: Most of us know or have started to learn about the vertical level of ego development from Robert Kegan, or about the leadership types from Susanne Cook Greuter: From the impulsive “survival”, “belonging” mind (2-6 years), to the instrumental “I want”, “right or wrong” mind (6-16) and ultimately the socialized or diplomat mind, where you want to grow into society, want to become a good citizen or manager, achieving others’ goals and acting on others’ beliefs and values. Here you are externally oriented and are a “victim” in the sense that change is happening to you. When the external environment is too uncertain and complex at this level, people shut down and look for strong leaders, simplistic strategies of denial, or utopias like communism or wanting to make America great again. This is where the crucial MNDSHFT comes in: from the outside to the inside. To cope with the external complexity, we have to start our self-inquiry to enrich our inner map, find guidance in our own purposes and values, develop the strength and courage to lead authentically from our inner sovereignty and our own vulnerability. We need to see that we are a home-grown human being with our very own shadows, problems and fears to overcome. Then we can see the humanity in others and start to reconnect. From this shift, Conscious Leaders are born.
From OS to UI: After starting to become self-authors, you are no longer driven by others’ standards, beliefs, wants and external status games. You know that those external forces are not the ego called Achim, Joe or Susanna, but that you have an ego inside yourself called Achim, Joe or Susanna. So you see your ego from the outside. You stand apart from it and can start to work on it, can start to integrate the shadows, the darker versions you were hiding in the basement,or the golden ones where we overhand our strengths to others or reconnectIng to your dissociated soul injuries and stop to project them to the outer world. Your ego becomes more fluid, adaptive to contexts. It knows that there is no absolute right or wrong, but a contextual truth which helps you to function or solve the problem. From this vantage point you can start to play with paradoxes like running a business and disrupting it at the same time. Or like being a strong leader and following employees at the same time. When you have reached that level of consciousness, your mind becomes self-transforming, going beyond the ego to see and integrate all human needs, desires and wants. Your ego is not an operating system (OS) running you but an user interface (UI) you can play with according to the role and context. Your mind begins to serve you with solving your problems and helps you to thrive.
From Ego-systems to Eco-systems: From this higher and more open viewpoint, you see, think and most importantly feel more, empathize with more entities. Your human capacity has grown in all directions: vertically to higher levels of consciousness, inwardly more deeply into your mind, heart and physical connections. And you have grown horizontally to become more connected with yourself, your family and friends, but also with your region, nation and most importantly the whole of society and the planet. You really start to care what impact you have on the world. You realize that when you start with your own mindsets, values and thoughts, all of your actions that follow impact your personal environment, your team, your company, the market and ultimately society and future generations. Growth and fulfillment is possible through giving and taking. So work on your mindset, on rewiring the capacity of your brain. Start to imagine a better YOU, and work toward that aim every single day. Your personal growth will follow, and your impact on the world will start to grow as well.
Liberating the Conscious Leader
This graphic will illustrate the vertical growth in consciousness and on the horizontal the expansion of belonging and empathy. The key to this self-evolution is the Subject-Object-MNDSHFT where we start to wale up to our Ego and the ability to co-crate ourselves and the world.
From Either/Or to Both/And: This last point is very important to me and us. The concept of transformation or, as it is sometimes called, enlightenment is reduced to the waking up. Ah, I see more, know I am better than before, and parts of my old self were wrong, disgusting and to be hated. Unfortunately, a new shadow is now created along with the new moral overconfidence. It looks down on the poor unenlightened car drivers, meat eaters and economic performers. These self-spiritual leaders or followers need another crisis to bring them back down to real life, see themselves as fully-grown humans helping others to thrive. You find these people in journalism, the world’s green parties and spiritual and consciousness movements. Real transformation always happens the way Ken Wilber brilliantly put it: Transcend to the next level and include the older part. Not either/or but both/and. Real inner growth only happens by not only becoming the opposite of something but by integrating it at a higher level. Always ask yourself: “What can I learn, where is the gold in this part of diversity” and discover the hidden growth. For example, GROWTH POSITIVE is the apex, the synthesis of the classical growth paradigm and the opposite of the de-growth, Fridays-for-future, extinction-rebellion point of view. We want to foster growth; internal human growth and external growth with positive impact. Or as our Nordic colleagues in Stockholm say: GROWTH THAT MATTERS.
From Enlightenment to Fully Grown Humans
Running this Conscious Leaders community, we should be aware of the pseudo-enlightened and holy “teal or 2nd tier leaders” who only speak from the vantage point of their good, higher self, repressing the older parts of their humanity: their lust, need to belong, desire for power, their freedom to decide on their own, their will and ability perform, compete and win. Unfortunately, in the so-called human movement, many are still stuck in their own green enlightenment and have not yet integrated their previous evolutionary parts. The inner performer, for instance; they are just curing their unsolved need to belong and projecting it onto others.
It´s a personal journey not an online seminar
So you see, it’s not an easy thing like taking a yoga class or watching GAIA. Becoming more conscious or a Conscious Leader can be tough. It takes us 1-4 years to liberate ourselves and move to the next level. With flow practice, you can cut that time by a third or even in half. You can also stay stuck for years and then level up, if you do the work. But if you do not do the inner work, it will never happen. When we unleash our human potential to become better, more complexity-conscious, positive people, we will contribute our part to the evolution of society and the planet. Why wait? We founded this community to help you leave your comfort zone and normal fears, to provide a support system for your human growth as a leader.
Join the ride toward continuously waking up, growing up and showing up (and sometimes cleaning up) and share your journey with like-minded peers. We are here to inspire, help us each other grow, using nothing else but this beautiful people and leaders around here.