How to Become a Conscious Leader

Guest post from Jim Dethmer:

Many people are interested in
becoming a more conscious (awake, present, engaged) leader.  At the Conscious
Leadership Group
we believe there are three foundational moves that are the
basis of all conscious leadership.  If
you want to be a conscious leader you must master these. 

Move from drifting to committing 

No one has ever become a
conscious leader without committing to being a conscious leader.  Every October, 40,000 people run the Chicago
Marathon.  No one will finish that great
test of discipline and fortitude without committing.  For many, the commitment began months or
years ago when one day (and then on many, many consecutive days) they committed
to run a marathon.  

Conscious leadership is not
accidental.  It is intentional.  In our experience, this intention and
commitment is not a one-time decision.  In
life we all commit.  We commit to lose 10
lbs, to be a more present parent or to achieve our sales goals.  We commit and then we drift away from our
commitment.  We find ourselves eating a
cookie, zoning out while talking to our kids or doing something other than the
next action step to reach our sales goal. 

The issue is not the original
commitment; it’s the infinite number of re-commitments.  The pattern of life and conscious leadership
is commit and drift-shift.  Shifting is
the act of recommitting. 

So here are the key
questions: “Are you committed to being a conscious leader?  What is one concrete evidence that proves
your commitment?” 

Move from blaming to claiming

What most distinguishes a
conscious leader from an unconscious leader is that conscious leaders claim
responsibility by taking it.  Unconscious
leaders spend their time blaming people, circumstances and conditions for what
is happening in their lives by blaming others and themselves.   Conscious leaders understand that
responsibility is not something that can be assigned.  It can only be taken. 

In every situation, conscious
leaders notice their impulse to blame, to point a finger and to find
fault.  They catch this tendency and then
they choose
they
choose responsibility.  Choosing
responsibility means asking, “How have I created or contributed to this?” and
not “Who did it?”  Conscious leaders
understand that there is tremendous power in claiming responsibility and no
power in looking to the past to find fault.

The question, “How have I
created this?” is not just code for blaming yourself.  That would be unconscious leadership.  When conscious leaders ask, “How have I
created this?” they are asking from curiosity and wonder.  They assume that whatever is happening is for
their and the organization’s learning. 
They don’t want to waste a second missing a learning opportunity.  Unconscious leaders can come up with infinite
evidence that they didn’t create or contribute to the situation while conscious
leaders want to determine exactly how they did. 
They see that they contributed by what they did or didn’t do, by what
they said or didn’t say and by how they were being or not being as a
leader.  They lead their organizations by
being the first to step into any situation with the words, “I’M RESPONSIBLE”
and, “Here is what I’m learning.” 

Move from being right to being curious

Everyone’s ego desperately
wants to be right and, more importantly, to prove that it’s right.  The ego actually believes that if it’s wrong,
it’s dead.  Unconscious leaders will fight
to the finish to prove they’re right. 
Conscious leaders have the same knee jerk ego-based reaction to being
right.  They see the reaction, they
breathe, and they choose to move from being right to being curious.  In order to be curious one has to be
secure.  Conscious leaders don’t need
constant outside validation to prove that they are valuable, in control or
safe.  Because of this deep security
(which can be developed over time and is another skill of conscious
leadership), they lead with childlike wonder and curiosity.  Like a child they look at all situations with
fresh eyes, and in doing so, they see things about people and situations that
leaders who are attached to proving their rightness never see. 

To apply this right now,
think about a conflict you’re currently in. 
Like all conflicts, it’s rooted in two sides wanting to be right.  In this conflict, what are you right
about?  Write it down.  Make a list. 
Feel your rightness, maybe even your self-righteousness.  If you stay on this path, what you get to be
in the end is right.  For many leaders
this is the goal, but not for conscious leaders.  Proving your right is the booby prize.   We tell leaders all the time what they
already know from experience.  If you
fight to be right you get to be right, but you don’t get to be happy or
connected to people or creative or experiencing life in a new and expansive
way.  Conscious leaders move over and
over again from wanting to be right to being deeply curious.


Jim Dethmer has spoken to tens of thousands of people about how
to lead and live from consciousness. He has coached Fortune 500 CEOs and their
teams supporting them in transforming their lives and their cultures.
Jim has recently co-authored a book,
The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership (January, 2015) along with Diana Chapman and Kaley
Warner-Klemp —founders of the
Conscious Leadership Group. When Jim is
not working with clients, you’ll often find him at his soul’s home in Northern
Michigan playing golf with his wife Debbie and delighting in their six children
and three grandchildren.