Everyone leads. Whether it’s in the workplace, within communities, our families, or the planet, at some point everyone — in some way — takes charge. But how many of us feel fulfilled as leaders? How many experience a level of happiness and satisfaction that aligns with our authentic selves? How many, instead, are merely toeing the line?
In “Conscious Leadership: 7 Principles That Will Change Your Business and Change Your Life“, leadership expert and organizational psychologist Michael Bianco-Splann offers a roadmap to effectively lead others without giving up your principles, aspirations, or happiness.
We recently sat down with Michael to discuss why conscious leadership is critical for today’s leaders, how ethics and profits can coexist, and why leaders need to “get real”.
Here is some of our conversation:
What is conscious leadership?
Conscious leadership is about “waking up” and turning off your autopilot. It’s about replacing those mindless, rote daily routines with authenticity, energy, and genuine care for the people you lead and serve.
Turning off your autopilot means first acknowledging that how you operate in the world isn’t predicated on your title or possessions, but on your integrity and ability to set aside toxic and limiting beliefs so that you can lift others up with true appreciation and empathy.
Conscious leadership also elevates the human experience by raising the energetic vibration that comes from putting others ahead of yourself — and by using love, care, and compassion to understand others, particularly those who are different or hold divergent perspectives and mental constructs.
Why is this a critical approach for today’s leaders — and the leaders of tomorrow?
To understand the incredible value that conscious leadership brings to today’s and tomorrow’s leaders, just ask yourself, “So, how are we doing today with our leadership models?”
You don’t have to look far to witness the pervasively destructive and greed-centered exercise of so-called leadership. This reality is ubiquitous across all elements of our global society. It’s manifested in the rise of radical social and political movements. In the world’s accelerated violence. And in the current environment of fear, anger, frustration, and anxiety.
As the saying goes: If we do the same things, the same way, expecting different results, we step into insanity. Yet, we find ourselves holding on to old and outdated leadership structures that are crippled and no longer able to support growth.
The answer? Conscious leadership. It takes disillusionment, frustration, and disharmony and transforms them into a life-filling enterprise, one where purposeful alignment to others is the goal, not shareholder value and profit. Conscious leadership lifts others up by recognizing human value and potential. A shift to this leadership style is absolutely necessary if we, as a human family, are to navigate our increasingly volatile and changing world order. We simply can do better!
In your book, you outline how business ethics, integrity, and profits can coexist. What does this look like?
The simple answer is that companies, organizations, and communities that genuinely care for their people have a greater opportunity to reap the rewards of happier, more satisfied customers, clients, and stakeholders.
For example: If my employees know that I care about them, they’re more likely to take much better care of internal teams and external customers. Most companies and organizations derive their success from satisfying their customers. But when profits and shareholder value become the primary measures of a company’s success — without focusing on supporting and caring for those who take good care of your customers and clients — companies stall. They don’t move forward.
How often do we see companies, large and small, fail to care for their people? This disconnect creates epidemic levels of professional burnout, collective anxiety, and an environment where good people want to do good work, but end up feeling depleted, demotivated, and unfulfilled.
“Leading by profit” is not only obsolete, but it’s also antithetical to our changing world. The time to add ethics, integrity, and caring into the picture is now. Do it and watch your profits increase.
You often tell leaders, “Forget being the boss. Be real.” Why is this more effective?
During my time as a leader in the corporate world, I would often ask my direct reports, “Why do we come to work and hang the most important parts of ourselves up on a hook, then turn into…a (insert an occupational title here)?”
When we come to work, we often leave behind the very qualities that make us unique: our personalities, temperaments, and human essence. When we fail to be our real selves, we step into a false narrative, a “less-than version” of our optimal self. We don’t offer our best self to those we lead and serve.
Being real means stepping into your best and most authentic self, the true expression of who you are. Others want this level of human connection, whether they tell you or not. Conscious leaders understand this fact and give people their full attention and heartfelt understanding. “Being the boss” becomes an only-when-needed response, rather than a business-as-usual methodology.
How can young professionals incorporate conscious leadership early on in their careers?
A good place to start is to get clear on your values, ethics, and the manner in which you want to lead others. This is a changing world. Following an existing corporate playbook, while that’s part of the gig, won’t provide a foundation to fulfill your deepest aspirations. Be true to your dreams. Follow them with flexibility and determination. Don’t be dissuaded in setting the bar high as you aspire to connect meaningfully with others. Seek to understand those around you, especially those who are different than you or hold different belief systems.
I’d also seek the support, guidance, and expertise of a qualified coach. Take yourself on by investing in your future — both yours and your company’s.
The power of leadership lies in bridging diverse ideas, opinions, and beliefs. Dare to do it differently!
To learn more about Michael Bianco-Splann and his new book, visit his website.