Anyone with a leadership drive poses this question constantly. For the face of leadership is changing drastically. Not only because everything happens a lot faster. Our world is increasingly interconnected and new subjects crowd the business and the social agenda. Locally and globally, many actors participate in business and social affairs. And leaders need to balance an exponentially increasing number of interdependencies and a much larger backlog of relational legacy. The Pandemic and now the war in Ukraine is shaking leadership profoundly.
Leading for positive impact, whether in the public or business sector, will be a civilization test. Leading to create a positive legacy is about conscious leadership and is indeed the highest level of leadership maturity. Only 1% of leaders, known as Society Captains, are at this level, an additional 4% of leaders, known as Global leaders, have the potential to grow at this level, followed by another 38% of leaders being transformational and Institution builders.
Developing conscious leadership astuteness is paramount to earning trust and engagement in creating well-being, progress, and peace. Imagine a world where people are led towards a higher purpose, creating economic well-being but also the planet, people, and cultural well-being, meaning quadruple growth.
Getting to that next level of greatness depends on the quality of our consciousness. To nurture the quality of our consciousness means developing our systemic and subtle awareness and converting the deriving insight, hindsight, and foresight into an innovative pursuit to creating quadruple growth, which I call generative growth.
Getting to that next level of greatness, as Judith E Glasser has quoted, “depends on the quality of our relationships, which depend on the intelligence of our conversations”. Strong relationships involve above all TRUST and Equity. To nurture the intelligence of our conversations, so as to create higher levels of trust, engagement, and equity, we need to investigate our patterns of thinking and sense-making and develop healthier inner and outer conversations. We call them generative conversations – conversations of growth, of aspiring and co-creating new and better futures.
The Edelman report on the TRUST Barometer 2022 points out that society has entered the Cycle of Distrust. The trust level in institutions is the lowest ever, vision is blurred and pessimistic, and inequalities are more present than ever. The report also indicates that people are looking towards business organizations to carry the flag of assuring social well-being.
How can business leaders make good use of this confidence vote?
Here few strategies to step up toward higher levels of leadership maturity:
For any of these strategies to work, however, the most challenging job of a conscious leader is to foster a culture of growth mindset, develop intrapreneurship, and quality of connection and empowering that allows for sharing and stretching towards ambitious goals and new realities. In overcoming these challenges, it helps to clarify 3 critical questions:
How do you help your organization deal with the past while building the future? – Our past has deep anchors in us, sometimes scars of pain, sometimes wellsprings of optimism and aspiration.
If we fail to deal with what was painful and traumatic, hate and shame develop. Trauma is transgenerational – when the new context brings back echoes of old trauma, limiting beliefs rule the game and stagnate growth.
If we fail to deal with what has been joyful and victorious, we fail to anchor the values that led to that victory and miss the opportunity to use a positive legacy to nurture us through the challenges of the present.
What kind of game do you want to play: future taker or future shaper? – We hear often that a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous world is here to stay and thus asking people to prepare for disruption, for a fearful and unforeseeable future. But this is an unexamined truth that will ultimately lead to a breakdown. And this is a game in which we are pure future takers – playing an unconcerted game of disruption. This is a future built by triggering our primitive and territorial instincts, playing a defensive – offensive game. Our collective effort to build desired futures – to be future shapers – cannot go amiss if we develop our level of collective consciousness beyond the primitive and rational level of thinking. To be in a future-shaping game we need to honor our vital instincts of connecting and sharing, of being goal-driven and evolution-oriented.
“What mind can conceive, and heart can believe, man can achieve” – goes the old saying. This goes for the good, and this goes for the bad and the ugly. Conscious leaders play a crucial role in guiding people’s minds and hearts toward ends that honor human values. The impact is highest when they role-model it. Because leadership is what we emanate.
What kind of culture do you want to be an enabler of? – The war in Ukraine is menacing social security many folds. Will force and autocracy win? Or will democracy and human values win? The echo of the war will be reflected in the kind of cultures we will be shaping – autocratic vs. democratic cultures. Business, social, and political forces will shift accordingly. This duality of forces that create vs. forces that destruct is as old as mankind, and it is as much an outer duality as it is an inner duality. To succeed in the outer game each of us, and leaders, in particular, will need to succeed in the inner game. This means enhancing systemic awareness, creating clarity of higher purpose, identity, values and virtues, and aligning the outer game accordingly. Building cultures that create a better future for the business, for the people, and the planet, is shaping the future.
I believe that when leaders at any level of maturity would rally behind a higher level of consciousness, organizations would transform into hives of thriving and well-being!