The Art of Conscious Leadership

In an ideal world there would be no need for a Conscious Leadership and Ethics Summit. But we do not live in an ideal world. Against the backdrop of the staggering global headlines of Ichaos, crisis and confused anxieties, the world’s leadership is looking

rather bleak at the moment. That’s not all, we are also caught up in the throes of paralytic inaction and the inexplicable lack of accountability at home, while fighting our way back from the captured swamps that had scarred our nation’s reputation.

This is the context of the 2019 Conscious Leadership and Ethics Summit. It is designed to become a transformative force for a new kind of conscious and ethical leader, the country has yet to see. It was also about widening the scope and understanding of consciousness and ethical behaviour, about dignity, trust, valour, courage, right action, care, compassion and kindness.

We have a splintered understanding of conscious leadership, especially in the domain of business. The narrative of consciousness is normally incongruent with its structure and processes and summarily dismissed as metaphysical. More often than not, mention the word love, humanity or consciousness in a boardroom and there would be considerable resistance and prompt negation. Powerful vested interests, be they commercial, political or theological, often lie behind such obstinate refusal to reckon with new concepts and insights that can unleash a journey into the realm of conscious, ethical leadership.

As South Africans, we are really a remarkable people. We are living through endless crisis, a near junk status, hateful rhetoric, the relentless abuse of women and the unconscionable neglect of our children. We also have to deal with a spate of leaders who had violated our trust and the corporate shenanigans of floundering companies, dogged by fraud and mismanagement. We were a very different nation in 1994, when Nelson Mandela was our leader. We were the exemplars of a conscious, forgiving and heroic nation regardless of race, religion, colour, creed and our disparate past and our reputation peaked internationally. We are a very different nation today, as the irresistible power of greed, ambition and self interest has us standing at a moral crossroad.

What begs the question though, is that those responsible for our economic woes are still seen around in their Gucci suits, instead of the orange overalls they deserve. Fearless of any reprisals, accountability or consequences, its business as usual for some. This is a heavy price to pay on the psyche of a nation.

There is a Japanese word called Bushido. It is an unwritten code observed by ancient knights and Samurai warriors, that had been handed down, by word of mouth through the centuries. Bushido is an ethical system that encapsulates honour, dignity, valour and right action. The meaning and behaviour of these words need to be embedded in this nation’s educational systems and assimilated in some business schools that churn out current day leaders.

The legacy of a conscious leader is commensurate to the matrix of influence he wields in all of its complexity, to place humanity at the core of his organisation. Conscious, courageous and ethical leaders have to constantly activate an inner call of sensitivity, care, compassion, temperance and tolerance in the face of external chaos. They are not perfect. Rather, they publicly hold themselves accountable for their actions and poor judgement, openly admit their flaws, accept their human weakness, show remorse and resolve to tangibly turn things around.

The sustained struggle to ‘do the right thing’ is not an easy one. In the face of the frustrating resistance from materialists who vehemently oppose complex concepts and different views, a courageous leader acknowledges his limitations and challenges.However, his resilience and responsibility is unquestionable as he unleashes the untapped potential of his workforce.

The human impulse to engage in soul-seeking pursuits and the exploration of consciousness is irrepressible. This evokes in a conscious leader to forge a new path of awareness, integrity, ethics and a sense of purpose, performance, profit and perception as he traverses a road less travelled. There are a number of winners of the Conscious Companies Awards and strategic partners who had undertaken this journey. Conscious leaders who had shaped their organisations despite the external chaos and economic challenges, with the voice of integrity, driven by moral purpose, reasoned thinking, balance, wisdom, clarity and awareness, coupled with a high degree of authenticity and efficiency. But there is only so much they can do, despite their best intentions.