conscious leadership: what is it? and why i'm interested
Here’s a post I wrote a few years back. As I’m building out an internal leadership and management training program for Advaita Integrated Medicine and Green Hill Recovery, I figured it would be good to go back and trace my journey into conscious leadership.
Mindfulness is all the rage. As the body of literature surrounding mindful leadership grows and as mindfulness continues to gain traction in the West, the proliferation of literature, trainings, and other media combining traditionally Eastern philosophical tenets and Western applications can be expected to continue. Conscious leadership is an approach to leading that values the human experience as essential to driving positive results. Ultimately, conscious leadership is a practice that embraces mindfulness, curiosity, learning, and relationship.
Ranger to Meditator
As a former infantry officer turned vegan meditator, I’ve had an intractable pull towards synthesizing best practices in leadership, mindfulness, and personal growth. My journey into mindfulness began when I returned from a combat deployment to Afghanistan and was looking to make some major changes in my life. Amid an existential crisis, I called my father to seek advice. “Son, I know you’re going to think this is crazy, but you should commit to a month of daily ashtanga yoga practice and twenty minutes of daily seated meditation.” That was over five years ago [almost ten as of 2022]. I’ve been a fervent meditator and yoga practitioner ever since, which I credit to providing nothing short of the existential solution I sought.
Conscious leadership is a practice, not a state of being. At its core, conscious leadership values being open, curious, and committed to learning instead of being closed, defensive, and committed to being right.
Synthesizing East and West
Though I don’t claim to be a leadership savant nor a spiritually mature person, I am an avid reader. And when I want to learn something, I turn to books. Over the past few years I’ve read dozens of books on leadership, strategy, and organizational psychology to improve my effectiveness as a small healthcare company leader. In addition to reading voraciously for work, I’ve also applied an academic approach to my spiritual journey – reading dozens, if not hundreds, of books on philosophy, meditation, and Eastern spiritual traditions – to discover universal truths and to optimize my short time on earth. I noticed an intersection between my two reading tracks, and I committed to (one day) synthesizing Western business leadership and Eastern philosophy.
After reading The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, I realized it had already been done. While trying to develop a framework for mindful leadership that spoke equally to my understanding of leadership principles and contemplative practices, I found the framework provided by 15 Commitments resonated deeply. Now that I’ve embraced the term “conscious leadership,” I’m excited to dive deeper into the practice of aligning my life personally, professionally, and spiritually.
Conscious leadership stands in stark contrast to command-and-control, authoritarian leadership. Leading consciously means you value co-creation, honor the human experience, work collaboratively, and value ongoing introspection. It’s a practice, a way of leading and living. Suppose you’re interested in learning more about conscious leadership. In that case, I highly recommend reading 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership and checking out the Conscious Leadership Group’s website, which is chockfull of helpful resources.