For the last 29 years, I’ve worked in the field of organizational and cultural transformation and executive coaching.
I’ve had many conversations with business leaders who tend to lead with, “how do I…?”
The typical “how do I” questions deal with a myriad of topics, though tend to involve themes of culture, leadership, behavior, conflict, and performance.
Below are some questions I encounter regularly.
- How do I change my culture?
- How do I improve leadership effectiveness?
- How do I improve engagement and performance?
- How do I handle this cultural or behavioral issue?
- How do I deal with this person?
- How do I drive buy-in?
- How do I become the best leader I can be?
My Answer: It starts with emotional intelligence based on Consciousness and Awareness.
Many businesses conduct annual leadership, culture, and engagement surveys to ascertain how well its managers fit the cultural values and how well they lead the cultural environment. The most common theme these “how do I” questions have is the behavior of people. Human behavior is the driving force of organizational culture.
What Is Conscious Culture?
Strong organizational cultures start with a well-defined vision, clearly articulated values, have a strong brand and reputation with employees and customers, and have clearly defined behaviors that embody the vision and values of the company-at-large.
The difference between a strong company culture and companies with conscious cultures is those with conscious cultures instill a sense of fearlessness, openness, and transparency. The open-door policy is truly an open-door. Differing perspectives are not only valued, they are encouraged. Conscious cultures focus on delivering meaning and purpose for their employees and community. By focusing on meaning and purpose, the brand takes care of itself.
Consider the difference between Uber, known for its aggressive and unruly culture, versus Toms Shoes, known by their purpose of One-for-One. Buy a pair of Toms shoes, and another pair is given to needy children. Uber is now going through its trials and tribulations as a result of internal and external strife. Toms Shoes has embarked on another mission doing their part to end gun violence. Tom creates movements that employees and the community want to be part of.
A dear friend and client of mine was the leader of operations for a financial services company. He would often say, “We are not performing brain surgery, this is not life and death.” But he would follow that up with, “But we are making a difference with how people live. We are providing a way for people to make their lives better.” Because of his leadership style and attitude, people who worked for him were inspired to make a difference and do the best job they could. He created a movement.
Conscious Cultures Start with Conscious Leaders
We know that organizational culture has a significant impact on employee engagement and business performance. In a 6-part series on the CEO’s Role in Shaping Organizational Culture, Chief Executive Magazine found that the most important thing a leader does “is shape and reinforce the organization’s culture.” This, therefore, should not be underestimated when evaluating your role as a leader.
Have you ever experienced working on a team where everyone had each other’s backs? Where constructive feedback was used as an opportunity for growth rather than something to be afraid of? Where successes were celebrated? Where open dialogue and discussion were expected? And where people collaborated to find the best solution rather than compete against each other?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, then you have the ingredients of a conscious culture.
If an organization has a culture of silo behavior and internal competition, decision-making is often adversely affected. This impacts the workforce in carrying out tasks effectively which is detrimental to business. If an organization suffers from a shoot-the-messenger climate, leadership misses key information that could adversely impact bottom-line results. If you have experienced this type of culture, it is likely down to a leader who created it.
Therefore, it is important to be mindful of your role as a leader, manager, and employee to improve overall success of the organization. When you become conscious, people around you are more likely to respond and become conscious themselves.
Becoming a Conscious Leader
If shaping and reinforcing the organization’s culture and climate is the role of leaders, then transforming the culture also requires conscious intention and direction from leaders. Learn how to create a conscious culture, see Part 2 of this Conscious Culture and Conscious Leadership Series: The ABC’s of Conscious Culture. Part 3 of this series focuses on the “how to’s” and becoming a conscious leader.
As Barry Robertson, Managing Partner of Conscious Business Insights and Co-Founder of Stop At Nothing states, “Corporate culture is behavioral acquiescence to whomever is in charge. Change the leader and you change the culture.” In other words, if you change your leadership style, you can change the culture in the area you lead.
Leaders must learn to be conscious and aware of:
- The emotional undercurrents that affect people who comprise the workforce and see how it relates to their performance.
- Any toxicity that may adversely impact collaboration, trust, alignment, and empowerment.
- What people are saying and what people are not saying. This means listening between the lines.
It is important to be close to people and manage the pulse of the organization. This means that leaders and managers must be adept at creating trust between people, remove obstacles to collaboration and alignment, and excel at inspiring others to do their best work.
The following is the recipe to becoming a Conscious Leader:
- Meditation and mindfulness.
- Self-awareness and self-regulation.
- Psychological, emotional, and physical well-being.
- Inner Wisdom
These ingredients will be discussed more in Part 3 of our Conscious Culture and Conscious Leadership Series.
In the meantime, as a New Year’s gift, please enjoy this meditation to become more conscious, aware, reduce stress and increase mindfulness.