Without conscious leadership, little else matters in a conscious business. It is the most important element: the most conscious corporation can be led badly off path and even destroyed if it hires or promotes the wrong kind of leaders.
The shareholder right movement has led to a model where CEOs are rewarded heavily – given strong incentives to become personally wealthy – for increasing the stock price of the company. Such leaders manage by numbers, viewing the business as an impersonal object, usually having no passion for any particular business,. They are hired guns who have the ability to spur companies to perform at a higher level and thus increase their market value. However, such leaders usually operate with short time horizons and tend to largely disregard the interests of stakeholders other than shareholders, because their own personal wealth is tied to the share price. Often, they take actions that are harmful for the business in the long term. Their leadership approach is particularly ineffective at creating team member engagement and enthusiasm.
Conscious businesses are led by emotionally and spiritually mature leaders. Such leaders are primarily motivated by service to the purpose of the business and its stakeholders – not by power or personal wealth. They develop and inspire, mentor and motivate and lead by example. Rather than militaristic or mercenary, they are missionary leaders, embodying Mahatma Gandhi’s dictum “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Conscious leaders are strong individuals who possess exceptional moral courage and are able to withstand constant critical observations from those who view business in a more traditional, narrow manner. They seek to nurture and develop the business for future generations, not to exploit for the short-term gains.
Rise of feminine values
For thousands of years, most societal institutions have operated based on “masculine” traits of aggression, ambition, competition, and left-brain domination. These traits have traditionally been viewed necessary for a leader to be successful. However, appreciation of the “feminine” values are constantly rising; caring, compassion, cooperation, and more right-brain qualities, proclaiming for a harmonious blend of these values in both work and personal life. Conscious businesses embody both perspectives whether led by men or women. The women who rise to positions of power today are different from their earlier counterparts, who had to show toughness in order to rise to the top. Most women leaders today are comfortable with their feminity, recognizing and respecting their ability to use caring and nurturing as an approach to lead organizations. Interestingly, as men age, they also start exhibiting more feminine qualities in their leadership style and relationships, reflected by their life experience. Likewise, many women become more assertive, independent, and straightforward as they mature.
Leadership and Management
Leadership and management are not synonymous. Leadership is mostly about change and transformation. Management is about efficiency and implementation. Leaders are high-level architects, builders and remodelers of the system, while managers ensure that the system works smoothly and take corrective actions when it doesn’t. Leaders have an inherent systemic sensitivity that enables them to understand both how a group of people will behave as a system and how to change the system in order to change its behavior. Leaders imagine and bring into that which did not exist before and which most thought could not be done. Businesses need both leadership and management but in right measure. Approaches need to be in harmony. “Too much management without leadership leads to too much stability and inward focus. This eventually results in stagnation, decline and probably the death of the organization. Too much leadership without enough management is also dangerous; the company lacks organizational capacity, operational discipline and efficiency, and the business can become very risky.” – John Kotter