Picture yourself at work: You’re in a conference room with a few colleagues brainstorming new ways to solve an ongoing issue for your organization. You feel confident in your idea, you pitch it to the group, and you’ve won everybody over – except for one person. They have a different approach, and they feel strongly about their idea, too. Instinctively, you feel protective of your contribution.
Discussions take place, but without realizing it, you spend more time focused on your idea than considering your colleague’s. Soon, because you’re determined to win them over, the allotted time for the meeting has ended, and the group walks away without a solution.
What happened? In this scenario, both you and your colleague were competing for the winning idea, and your emotions were driving your actions. You felt strongly, and so you defended it. Your colleague did the same. As you can see, nothing was solved.
Being passionate about your role and responsibilities at work is certainly not a problem. Organizations thrive when team members are committed to doing their best. But they thrive even more when team members show up and are ready to listen, collaborate with their peers, seek input from others, and practice self-awareness. We call this conscious leadership.
Being a leader doesn’t depend on your title at the organization – we’re all leaders, regardless of rank or personality type.
Leadership begins with yourself, and the skills associated with leadership play a key role in resolving conflict with others, solving problems, and gaining perspectives that lead to powerful insights. Strengthening these skills starts with raising your level of consciousness about yourself, and the results can transform your professional and personal life.
What is Conscious Leadership?
We define conscious leadership as the ongoing process of learning to lead yourself before leading others. It’s core to Aileron’s mission of developing conscious leaders of private business to practice and evolve professional management. Compared to traditional leadership, conscious leadership differs in a number of ways.
||Authority and power
||Active listening and coaching
||Self-focused; independent and performance-driven
||Self-aware; connected and in tune with the team
||Work comes first
||Work and life exist in harmony
||Tight-lipped and top-down; shares with and seeks input from a small group
||Transparent; shares openly and often; asks questions and seeks input from all
||Results are prioritized, sometimes at the expense of people
||People are prioritized, which drives better results
The conscious leadership model shows you how to empower people to show up consciously so they can contribute their talents and skills to an employer who values them. It embraces the potential of “we,” instead of “me,” which has been proven to transform businesses and organizations for the better.
There are four principles of conscious leadership:
- Suspending judgment
- True vs. Truth
- Energetic responsibility
In this article, we take a closer look at the first principle.
The Thought-Emotion-Action Process
When we enter the workplace, we bring with us the complexity of our lives, even if we aren’t aware of it. What’s on our minds influences our emotions, which influences our actions. Conscious leadership shows us how to become more aware of that connection so we show up mindfully at work.
The connection between our thoughts, emotions, and actions starts on a subconscious level.
Each of us carries values and beliefs that inform our perspective on just about everything. These can be influenced by our individual upbringing, our community, our spiritual and religious practices, and our general life experiences. When a new event (or stimulus) occurs, our response is filtered through our values and beliefs. Automatically, we generate a thought, which generates an emotion, which drives our actions.
Typically, in a professional culture that follows a traditional leadership model, we don’t have the opportunity to ask someone what motivated their action or how they arrived at their conclusion. This is especially true for a workplace that’s adopted a top-down communication style. In conscious leadership, we slow down the thought-emotion-action process to consider if our instinctive action led to the most productive result. We seek understanding more than we seek orders, and we uplift the value of transparency.
So, what happens when we become more aware of our individual, thought-emotion-action responses? Our Aileron community members tell us:
- “The work we’ve done and continue to do with Aileron gives our entire company a common language. We have shared expectations of how to engage with each other and a framework to handle conflict. We understand the importance of being self-aware and the energy we are each responsible for bringing to every interaction.” – Matt Hoying, Choice One Engineering
- “Everybody involved is able to name what’s going on and able to say, ‘I am reacting this way because I’ve developed a definition of what’s true here, and that’s different from theirs.’ Or, ‘Why am I acting this way? I can choose to approach this differently.’” – Eric Wiechart, All Service Glass
- “We were able to use the tools we learned at Aileron as a framework to address the root of challenges. We developed a common language that gave all of us – regardless of how long we’d each been in the business – a shared lens and focus to create the approach the company needed for the future.” – Jim Smith, Keith Smith Company