Ever wondered what conscious leadership looks like in the workplace?
Conscious leadership is an approach to running organisations where sales, revenue, and profits are achieved through a more responsible leadership where employee and workplace wellbeing is a central focus.
It can be done. It has been done. And the results of being a conscious leader speak for themselves.
Read on to find out how one person’s neglect of their own wellbeing became the inspiration for the embodiment of conscious leadership.
Introducing the conscious leader
How are conscious leaders different from the traditional view of what leadership looks like?
Imagine the scenario:
You’re at work and you’ve accidentally emailed something you shouldn’t have to a client. You’re utterly mortified. You genuinely care for the employer you work for, coming in every day to do the best job you can. It was a terrible mistake, and there’s nobody more upset than you.
The next day, instead of your boss giving you a good dressing-down in front of your peers, he hugs you and says thank you. Why? Because he can already see you’re devastated, so chastising you is pointless. You’ve also highlighted a process gap for him, which means it could happen again. Thanks to you, though, it won’t.
Picture the scene:
You’ve left university and you’re job hunting. Your mentor puts you in touch with a CEO who could potentially use your skills, so you go and have a chat with him. Afterwards, your mentor asks how the conversation went. You tell him it was a great meeting, and you even got to talk about a deeply personal matter — your suicide attempt.
Despite your mentor’s recommendation to never again share such intimate details with a prospective employer, the CEO offers you a job. Fast forward three years, you are now running the company’s Customer Success team and a director in the business.
Real-life conscious leadership
The two situations above are true stories. In fact, the “boss” and the “CEO” are the same conscious leader running companies that focus on conscious leadership and workplace wellbeing.
A conscious leader who, while setting up his first business, threw himself into it by working non-stop to the detriment of his own health and wellbeing. Eventually, he developed chronic fatigue syndrome, which manifested as constant flu-like symptoms. And, he burnt out.
This experience, combined with the arrival of two adopted children who needed their father to be around, led to creating a new enterprise that had to be built in a very different way.
Success, but not at any cost.
Inspired by the mistakes made the first time around, he created the second business differently. Although he didn’t use the term “conscious” to describe it at the time, it was the epitome of conscious leadership. In fact, when setting up, the first question the founder asked himself was: “What would it be like to run a company where we put people first, where workplace wellbeing was a focus and not an afterthought?”
Here’s how that manifested itself.
As an HR technology provider of software to help facilitate performance development conversations (more regularly known as performance management), he had to make sure they lived by the same principles they encouraged others to live by. So, many conversations paved the way for great quality relationships and transparency across the business.
They worked hard to ensure their speed of growth matched what their people could realistically handle without compromising their own wellbeing needs. That is, they made sure the company grew responsibly. Recruitment focused on attracting people who were better at their job than the leadership team, freeing up the leader’s time to set direction, provide clarity and get out of the way so that people could get on and do their jobs.
The reward strategy was designed to give fair and good pay. People were paid well but not incentivised by money. This removed it from performance development conversations. An HR function wasn’t required because the leaders were there for support, and the company started from a position of trusting its people.
They hired a coach and leadership development specialist as employee number 15 (that was me) to work across the team, ensuring that everyone was as focused on their wellbeing as they were on their performance. Monthly Wellness Wednesdays provided the opportunity to build emotional intelligence, helping the team to work more effectively.
And they weren't afraid of breaking what they'd built. The fortnightly “break and remake” sessions, like retrospective sprints, provided opportunities to get together and talk about workload, what was getting in the way of progress and what needed to improve.
This is how the company continues to operate today. Although as with any growth mindset company, there is always room for improvement. And new ideas get put in place all the time.
The conscious leader revealed
But who was the conscious leader behind all this great work? It was Stuart Hearn, CEO of Clear Review.
Having gotten used to weekly one-to-one discussion sessions at university to review his dissertation progress, he was brought down to earth with a bang when he entered the job market and his first employer had two discussions a year to review performance. With the annual appraisal being the mainstay of most organisations’ performance management systems, he recognised that things needed a shakeup.
Now he’s made a successful living by helping organisations introduce wellbeing programs for employees and encouraging them to have regular conversations to discuss performance and development, using technology to nudge people along. Introducing workplace wellbeing and conscious leadership into the work environment has never been more important.
The conscious leadership fundamentals
I have the pleasure of working with Stuart, a real-life example of what can be achieved when conscious leaders take a responsible approach to delivering high performance. And the company makes money. The focus on people has led to over 100% year-on-year growth since launching the business.
So, what can you learn that will enable you to operate as a conscious leader?
- You need to be awake enough to learn about yourself, how you're programmed and how to behave in a way that acknowledges everyone's needs and point of view.
- You have to maintain resilience and a healthy mindset by keeping things in perspective, working on your mental health, and recognising any unhelpful thinking getting in the way of you or your company's success.
- You must create a compelling purpose that everyone can get behind so that work is focused on what matters most and everyone has a sense of meaning in what they do.
- You must create an environment where people can do things together, where leaders partner with their people, and where there is psychological safety to allow staff to speak up and be themselves.
- Finally, you must reinforce the importance of a growth mindset and recognise that everyone is on a journey and will make mistakes, but with the right support, focus, and environment, people will deliver amazing results.
A new approach to the workplace is fast becoming a business must-have. If you want to find out more about developing the right workplace wellbeing focus, contact us today.