Photo Credit: Brooke Lark, Unsplash.com

Written by Meredith Turney
June 15, 2020

Work stress and unhealthy organizational cultures result in untold anxiety and attendant health issues. While the workplace presents many opportunities for growth, the way it’s been functioning has led to burnout, misery, stress, and generally imbalanced lives.

It’s the reason there are countless resources now for busy professionals to “be more productive,” or “create work/life balance,” or “meditate the work stress away.” These resources are logical, based on demand, but do they address the underlying needs that drive this desire to be more productive, have balance, and reduce stress?

We know we can’t continue down this unhealthy, imbalanced path. So now’s the time for us to examine the very nature of how we work, what it means to us, and how we build and lead organizations. The coronavirus pandemic has gifted to us this realization and opened us up to new ways of working.

As a result of the pandemic, employees are experimenting with remote work options. They’re realizing they want greater fulfillment and flexibility from their employers. And they’re going to expect a more empathetic, nurturing leadership style. We’ve rapidly moved into what was only a few months ago the future of the workplace. The workplace is finally ready for conscious leadership.

What’s Conscious Leadership?

Conscious leadership means leadership that looks holistically at how to build an organization and nurture its team so that employees, customers, investors, and the broader community are all mutually benefited. It’s about far more than just providing a service or product and creating a job. Conscious leadership seeks to create a better world and cultivate teams equipped to make significant changes in their industry and community. It’s the very antithesis of current leadership models driven by ego, greed, and selfishness.

The External & The Internal

Conscious leadership has both an external and internal aspect. The external aspect describes leaders who want to inspire and bring out the best in all those around them. They’re driven by reward beyond personal gain or profit and they’re characterized by integrity, trust, and unity; the opposite of intimidation and fear.

Conscious leaders choose to deconstruct the old hierarchical systems of command-and-control. In its place, they build organizations that encourage, engage, evoke curiosity, and treat all as equals for their unique contributions.

From an internal perspective, conscious leadership is also awareness and choice. It’s being aware of thoughts, emotions, and the resulting actions. The more awareness—or level of consciousness—the leader has around their thoughts and emotions, the better they’re able to manage how they make decisions and interact with others. They learn to build space between thoughts and actions. The larger the space they can create, the more conscious their decisions and responses.   

One example of conscious leadership in action is offering flexible work options—even after the pandemic, which is the first time many have experienced this type of freedom in their career. A conscious leader considers, “Do my employees really need to be in an office all day? Why would offering remote work options evoke fear for me? How can I create a workplace that brings out the best in everyone and creates a more harmonious, abundant world?”

The workplace and world are hungry for this type of leadership. The pandemic has merely confirmed to us that we must change our ways and bring more conscious leadership to every aspect of government, business, education, community, and family.  

Just a few months ago, who could have imagined how different our world would be today?

The way we work, live, eat, shop, and socialize has all shifted dramatically. It’s a rapid change to which some are adjusting well. Others need time to process just how different their lives have become in such an unexpected and sudden manner. We’re experiencing the paradox of change: the loss of old, familiar systems can feel painful, but the opportunity for new, innovative systems is progress—leading to as yet unimagined possibilities.

The coronavirus pandemic holds up a mirror to us and then gives us time to reflect upon what we see—individually and collectively. When we finally step back and observe, we realize there’s much we can and will change.

Perhaps the greatest consciousness-raising opportunity during this time is reflecting on the very nature of work, what it means to us, and how we can bring more conscious leadership to the way we work.

Meredith Turney’s coaching helps conscious leaders step courageously into the future of work. She writes a bi-weekly newsletter on the topics and can be contacted via her website MeredithTurney.com

Photo Credit: Brooke Lark, Unsplash.com

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