Let’s say you’ve worked at a company for over a decade. You’ve progressed through the ranks, established expertise, and experienced the organization’s progress and development. Then, a member of executive leadership, who you greatly respect, announces their retirement. In due time, a new executive leader from outside the organization fills their role, and they introduce new policies and procedures.
Having grown accustomed to the processes of their predecessor, your gut reaction to these changes is strong. You might think, “Why change what I’ve seen work so well?” or even, “What does this person know about the organization?” Reacting adversely to these changes might be your initial response – but it doesn’t have to dictate the mindset you carry forward.
When we’re confronted with a situation that’s unfamiliar or doesn’t represent our beliefs, we tend to respond instinctively. We might get angry, defensive, or disappointed.
If we’re not conscious of ourselves, and if we don’t take a moment to pause our thoughts and feelings before acting on them, we can contribute to conflict and tension.
Exploring Conscious Leadership: Part Two
Conscious leadership shows us how to show up intentionally for ourselves, our colleagues, and the organization as a whole. When people feel empowered to contribute their talents and skills in an environment like this, the entire company transforms for the better. There are four principles of conscious leadership:
- Suspending judgment
- True vs. Truth
- Energetic responsibility
Learn about the foundation of conscious leadership and see how it compares to traditional leadership models in our first post, “Becoming a More Conscious Leader: The Connection Between Our Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions.”
In this article, we take a closer look at the second principle.
It’s important to recognize the difference between exercising judgment when the situation calls for it, and suspending judgment for the sake of innovation, curiosity, and growth. Judgment is a necessary part of almost everything we do. It allows us to make decisions, it keeps us from doing things we know will cause us harm, and it reminds us what we’ve learned from past experiences. But judgment can also hinder us in many ways. In the workplace, it can contribute to negative energy that impacts ourselves and others – during work hours and even in our personal lives.
“Judgments are simply thoughts. If you’re able to set that thought aside for a moment and reconsider the situation, you’ve got an opportunity to choose to respond, as opposed to being a victim or captive to your reactions.” – Aileron Chief Officer of Operations Chuck Higgins
Consider the scenario at the beginning of this article: You’ve been a loyal member of an organization that’s just introduced new changes. You don’t understand or agree with those changes, and you’re upset they’re taking place. You close yourself off from new ideas, push back against new requests, and adopt a pessimistic mindset.
If you were to rewind to the moment you learned about the changes ahead, you could give yourself a choice of how to respond: Resign to your gut reaction, or consider the possibility that you don’t have all the information. In the alternative approach, you might ask yourself the following questions: What does the organization stand to gain with these new changes? How do these changes contribute to growth? What does the future of the company look like with these changes in place?
Suspending judgment when confronted with a stimulus is key to developing stronger self-awareness. Conscious leaders, no matter their title, strive to maintain that self-awareness so that the organization can enjoy innovation and curiosity.
Start suspending your judgment in small ways – today.
Aileron’s Chief Operating Officer Chuck Higgins recommends a small experiment to begin suspending judgment. It’ll help you get a feel for the concept and how it manifests in everyday situations. Give it a try:
- Start small and safe. Maybe this looks like a conversation you have with a person you know well, or a situation that doesn’t have a big impact.
- Become aware of the moment you feel inclined to make a judgment. Pause that train of thought.
- Consider how you can choose to respond in that moment. You’ve got options! Ask yourself, “Do I have all the information to make a judgment?”
- Be curious. Keep asking the other person questions, and keep paying attention to the choices you have to respond.
- Make note of how the conversation or situation unfolds without having made a judgment.
Once you start to suspend judgment in small spaces, you’ll start to gain momentum in your thought patterns, and you’ll become more attuned to a new mindset.