A quick summary:
- What is conscious leadership?
- The role of conscious leadership on workplace wellbeing
- What Natasha Wallace, TCLC Founder says
- Characteristics of a conscious leader
- Meet Heka
In an ideal working world, conscious leadership would exist in every business. Why? Because it’s an effective strategy in creating a people-first culture; an environment where employees thrive. Unfortunately, not all leaders are operating as conscious leaders — and that’s exactly what we’re here to help with.
As we enter the last quarter of the year, it’s a time worthy of reflection. Organisations should use the next couple of weeks to review not only their business but their approach to leadership.
Do they meet the criteria of a great leader?
- Do they know what their team needs?
- Does their team respect and trust them?
- Do they listen to their team with intent?
The characteristics of a great leader is a much longer list. One that belongs in an article of its own. However, this should give you the idea that becoming a great leader is an ongoing process — spanning everything from interpersonal communication, open-mindedness and compassion, critical thinking and many other areas.
In this post, we’re exploring the role of conscious leadership in building healthier, happier teams. We’ll start with an overview of the meaning behind conscious leadership, including the link it shares with employee wellbeing.
We’ll then dive into some of the more specific characteristics of a conscious leader. Those that separate great leaders from managers. Without further ado, let’s jump in!
What is conscious leadership?
First things first, what is conscious leadership? What does it mean and why does it matter? Our team surfed the web for a clear and concise definition of the topic.
In an article by Forbes on ways to become a conscious leader, best-selling author and TED Speaker, Jennifer Cohen describes conscious leadership with the following statement:
“Conscious leaders speak with integrity, lead with authenticity and hold themselves accountable. They listen with the intent to understand and not just to respond, and they do it by being in tune with themselves and the world around them.”
Jennifer’s definition hits the nail on the head in describing how conscious leaders conduct themselves in the workplace. It’s about leading your team, department or business with a “we” attitude rather than an “I” mindset. It’s being self-aware of the way you, as a leader, can have a positive impact on those around you.
When leaders realise this truth, their business is in a position to skyrocket. Because only when our workforce is connected that we are able to build lasting teams, stronger relationships and more successful outcomes.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of conscious leadership, let’s turn our attention to the link between conscious leadership and employee wellbeing.
The role of conscious leadership on employee wellbeing
Believe it or not, a great employee wellbeing strategy will struggle without a conscious leadership style behind it. Take a look at what conscious leaders do well when it comes to the health and happiness of their people.
Leading with trust and honesty
Trust and honesty have been pushed to new boundaries with the rise of hybrid work – not that they haven’t always been essential for a successful business. If leaders want to develop better health and wellbeing for their people, they must lead with trust and honesty.
Our relationships, both in and outside the workplace, have a huge impact on our happiness. We need to form lasting connections with others to be able to collaborate, communicate and trust one another.
For a conscious leader, this means avoiding secrecy and being open with employees. Uncertainty creates anxiety, whether it’s prior to a meeting, or just feeling out of the loop with general business.
It isn’t just secrecy and openness that’s a cause for concern. Some leaders do not trust employees to work efficiently from home. Where there’s a lack of trust, there’s a lack of autonomy and an incline toward micromanagement.
Employees must be able to work autonomously and be trusted with deadlines and projects. Things like employee monitoring software cannot exist in a business trying to develop conscious leadership. Leaders, therefore, need to work in a way with their teams where everyone is clear about what needs to be delivered, there is the right resource in place to get things delivered, and then people can get on with that delivery. With leaders getting involved or providing support from time to time.
Humanising your leadership
Closely followed by trust and honesty, organisations must humanise their leadership style. It’s recognising the important role of everyone involved in a company – creating an employee experience that doesn’t have an outdated view of how people should be managed.
Everything from how leaders communicate to how they engage with their teams. Organisations must develop a holistic approach to their company culture; one that brings everyone together, as opposed to dividing leadership teams from the wider workforce.
Ultimately, organisations need to do away with faceless leadership and introduce conscious leadership – it’s time to humanise how leaders work with their teams. This is about connecting with each individual on a personal level.
Self-awareness and self-care
Conscious leadership can be a tough gig. However, leaders who are both self-aware and practice self-care are on the right track. Think about it. When leaders recognise their limitations and are aware of how their thoughts, feelings and actions impact their team, they are acting as conscious leaders.
They’re able to focus on improving themselves and in turn, support their employees. Ultimately, by improving our self-awareness, and self-care, we improve our resilience as leaders and we cope better. And if there’s one thing we know, it’s that once we support our own health, happiness and overall wellbeing, we’re able to focus on helping others.
Natasha Wallace, TCLC Founder says…
"Leaders who take care of themselves and who continually work on getting to know themselves better, are better leaders. Leadership can become a very transactional process, where leaders set objectives, check in with team members to make sure they’re delivering, and then they spend the rest of their time delivering their own work.
That doesn’t achieve high performance. Having high standards and a sense of urgency to get work done is important but it can only be done when your team feels safe and supported - and trusted.
Leaders can only achieve that, if they pay attention to themselves and the people around them and constantly assess how everyone is doing, having open conversations, and adapting to what they see and hear. Often that means changing their own behaviour."
Characteristics of a conscious leader
There are many characteristics that make a good leader, perhaps a great leader. But here, we’re going to look at some of the characteristics of a conscious leader. In addition to those mentioned above, such as honesty, trust and integrity, here’s what conscious leadership looks like in a person…
Always learning and being adaptable
The first characteristic of a conscious leader is the ability to adapt, learn and rethink their ways of working. As we’ve touched on above, leaders who recognise their thoughts, feelings and actions and are able to reflect on how they can improve are following the conscious leadership style.
We must always be lifelong learners. Especially with the responsibility involved in leadership. There is too much at stake for organisations not to continuously improve, learn and develop. Through personal learning and development, conscious leaders must become masters of adaptability.
Poor leadership is thinking the same strategy or technique will work forever or believing that you have all of the answers (and you don’t need to learn); conscious leadership is trying, testing (and sometimes failing) with new ways of thinking and working.
Recognising your position of responsibility and power
Some leaders look to move blame to other members of their organisation, it’s easy to blame the people around you when you’re not getting the results you want. Conscious leaders should think before they speak or act. It’s this awareness that prevents them from damaging relationships with others. It also means turning the mirror on yourself as a leader and asking yourself ‘what role am I playing in this’?
Managing a team, department or entire business is no easy task. Sometimes the going gets tough, and managers look to blame others. This is where conscious leadership can help leaders recognise that nobody other than themselves is to blame for certain problems.
Better yet, it’s understanding that as a leader, you are responsible for the direction, action and progress of the company – and if you want your team to do better, you too must do better.
Empowering your workforce
Finally, let’s discuss empowerment. Conscious leadership is also about being able to inspire, motivate and empower others. All for the greater good of both their career, their lives and the business.
Encouraging others to work themselves into the ground? A big no. Encourage employees to avoid burnout while developing their careers in the direction they want? A big yes.
Being able to empower others is a very important and skilful attribute. Like many characteristics of a conscious leader, this particular quality comes down to communication.
Are you instilling fear in your workforce, or are you empowering the team to believe that no challenge is too large? Like our point above, leaders should recognise their power, and put positive encouragement behind it, rather than using it to create negative energy – power with encouragement equals empowerment!
Conclusion on becoming a conscious leader
There you have it. Our thoughts on conscious leadership, and its influence on employee wellbeing and creating healthier, happier teams. Like most positive changes in the workplace, becoming a conscious leader takes time and effort. It shouldn’t be seen as an overnight transformation, because your business and workforce won’t see positive results that fast.
By committing to becoming a conscious leader, you are committing to better health and wellbeing for your employees. Conscious leadership is evident in some of the greatest businesses of today. It’s charismatic leaders who are role models for their workforce, forward-thinking in their industry and innovators of the modern ways of working who become conscious leaders.
Top tip: If you'd like to dig even deeper into the health and wellbeing of your people, consider metrics to track for workplace wellbeing. Examining things like absences, poor productivity and more will give you a better insight into how your employees feel.
Heka is an employee wellbeing platform designed to provide thousands of wellbeing benefits to UK employees. With more than 3,000+ experiences, products and services spanning more than 50+ categories, there’s most certainly something for everyone.
We’d love to walk you through our platform and show you all the positives Heka can have on your workforce!