We are in the midst of a global revolution. Not just because Covid-19 is forcing us to change the way we’ve always done things, but also because we’re a generation of changemakers. We’re collectively striving to correct the wrongs of the past, fighting for racial and gender equality, speaking up against gender-based violence, changing our ways to save the planet… it goes on. Monumental change is happening.
Did you know, monumental societal change is often noticed and driven in the workplace before anywhere else? The workplace brings together different people from different walks of life and life experiences, different cultures, races, genders and ages to live and work together towards common goals and objectives. Unless, ofcourse, a company lacks in diversity, its workforce is really a reflection of the world. Societal change is, to a great extent, driven by leaders in the workplace because they have direct access to ‘the world’ (their workforce) and have the power to empower.
With this being said, most organisation’s are committed to building a better, more inclusive future, not just because it’s critical to success, i.e. better retention and recruitment of talent, better workplace culture, increased productivity and profit, competitive advantage etc, but because power comes with responsibility. Organisation’s know that this cannot be achieved, however, without conscious, inspiring leadership.
It’s the reason why employers want to develop and train their current leaders to be more empathetic and self-aware, and why they’re becoming increasingly interested in new recruits with sought-after leadership skills including coaching, onboarding and decision making, according to job portal site, Adzuna.
If you’re committed to becoming a more conscious, inspiring leader for the betterment of society and your organisation, here are 5 tips to implement immediately, and remember to share these tips with your fellow leaders!
5 Tips to Becoming a More Conscious Leader
Self awareness is the ability to self-reflect and understand your feelings, behaviours and motives. It’s looking at yourself, regularly (in almost every situation) and deciding if what you think, feel, say and do are in alignment. It’s checking yourself – your unconscious biases, your ego, your default thought pattern which may be self-serving and asking yourself how you can do and be better for yourself and those around you. Changemakers and inspiring leaders cannot lead effectively, holistically and impactfully without self-awareness. We, being human, are all guilty of sometimes thinking egotistically or in a way that’s more beneficial to us and what we believe, but leaders should always strive to be impartial and seek to understand other points of view without their own views getting in the way. Self-awareness is the cornerstone of conscious leadership.
Develop empathy for others and seek to understand
Empathy and self-awareness work in tandem a lot of the time. It’s often difficult for one to admit they’re not empathetic towards others, especially those that consider themselves leaders. But even leaders can lack empathy at times. In a recent study 31% of employees said their leaders showed lack of empathy. To know whether you’re lacking in empathy, or could be more empathetic at times, a leader needs to be self-aware. Your people are not going to tell you that you lack empathy (unless you roll out an anonymous survey like they did in the study). Instead they’re going to sit with that negative feeling and have it come out in ways that are unfavourable: lack of engagement and motivation, which was the case for the employees in the study. Empathy is crucial to make meaningful change, without it inequality, a lack of inclusion, a disjointed workplace culture and an unhappy workforce will remain a reality in an organisation.
Surround yourself with inspiring people
The people you surround yourself with influence the way you think, feel and behave. If you’re surrounded by people with views that are harmful and, essentially, obstacles in the way of your vision, you may want to rethink their company. Here again, awareness is of utmost importance. Before asking what kind of leader you are, first ask what kind of person you are, and seek to change the areas of yourself that could get in the way of how you lead others.
Listen, observe and communicate carefully
Communication is key to conscious leadership. A conscious leader who’s committed to being part of the change and empowering their people doesn’t make decisions for their people. They don’t assume they know the experiences of their people, nor do they assume they know how they feel and what they need. As much as a leader strives to put themselves in others’ shoes, they’ll never be able to fully understand anothers’ life experiences or their struggles with say, discrimination or inequality if they have not lived it themselves. They need to find out from the source, they need to give their people a voice, and then they need to listen, observe and communicate in a way that benefits all. The best way to go about this is to conduct pulse surveys. It’s an anonymous, safe place for employees to voice their feelings, emotions and needs to be part of the change the organisation is striving for.
Lead with integrity
A simple way to explain integrity is having your thoughts, feelings and behaviour ‘integrated’, or for use of a better word, aligned. It’s never straying from your core beliefs and values, it’s remaining steadfast to them in every situation, no matter what is happening and no matter who you’re working with. A leader without integrity is a weak leader because they can easily be swayed this way and that. A leader with integrity remains true to their beliefs and values at all times.