South Africa needs to adopt Conscious Leadership

What is the relevance of conscious leadership in business and society and what does it really mean? What would your life be like if every human contact were genuine and meaningful? If every time you spoke, it were with respect and considered opinion? If every move were made thoughtfully and intentionally? What would it be like if you could be conscious, kind and deeply aware of your actions every minute of your work day, especially in the frantically busy moments? The relevance would be humanity in action

Two months into 2022 and we have seen the suffering and effect of the war in Ukraine and the consequences of dithering decisions and continued shenanigans at home. It leaves us with a gargantuan leadership crisis both locally and on the global stage. There is the elaborate façade of outwardly impressive leaders, who remain inwardly impoverished by greed, ambition and power. 

How do we fix that? How do we create a calibre of conscious, ethical leadership? How do we raise the bar to create courageous leaders with a different quality of thinking and being with the capacity to uplift and influence those whose people lives they touch? How do we create visionary leaders whose actions manifest a greater good for all? Intriguing questions and a dearth of answers. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his State of the Nation address last month: “We are engaged in a battle for the soul of the country. We will succeed… because the spirit of resilience is deeply embedded.” 

What did he mean by that? 

When the president uses the phrase “engaged in a battle for the soul of the country”, he is incorrect. What he should have said was “engaged in a battle for the soul of the leadership of the country” and not the “soul of the country”. For conscious leaders shape conscious companies and countries. 

An unguarded bellow is all it takes for us to witness the final convulsions of a failed leader like Brian Molefe, Lynne Brown or Malusi Gigaba and many more who had lost their way in the captured swamps or who are too busy feeding at the trough to heed the sludge they stand in. This cabal of like-minded individuals who operate for material gain and power at the expense of the greater collective are driven by a core collaborative value system of what’s in it for themselves, rather than what’s in it for the country and those they serve. 

How did we get here? 

These are anxious and difficult times for which we need an inner resilience and security to get ourselves out of this malaise of loss, betrayal and the paralysing pessimism of recent events that threaten our national psyche. Thus, we should battle for the souls of the leadership of those in the political and business spheres and the soul of the country will take care of itself. 

In navigating the cause of conscious leadership, I sometimes cross paths with leaders who are so unaware, they do not understand what conscious leadership means. We had seen more than our fair share of looters and cheaters, pervasive greed, raw ambition and dishonest dealings by our leaders. In a country that is the birthplace of the King IV corporate governance principles; one that should be held up as a global beacon of conscious leadership, ethics and governance, why are we so severely compromised? Where is the moral muscle of our leadership? 

In this age of excessive materialism, cut-throat and dishonest dealings, one looks to the chief executives, chairpersons, the president, ministers and leaders of the day to display courage and vision — not incompetence and cowardice — to take a country forward. Unfortunately, the self-interest, double-dealing, and blind disregard for ethics or governance displayed by some of our leaders, leaves one in no doubt that there is much to be done in terms of conscious leadership and values. 

There is hope

Conscious leadership is a skill and a state of mind that can be acquired. We can create a conscious, humane society, despite the need and greed. All it takes is a little discernment. All too often we have created icons and heroes of liars and thieves and those who have made enormous amounts of dodgy money. 

We revere the drugged athlete, the sushi guzzlers, and the sensation-seeking glamour queens. There are those that play a role just to win public acclaim or financial fortune, as if one is expected to be dishonest and inauthentic to prove yourself worthy of being a leader. This is the culture and value system that we have created since our democracy. 

If we do not venerate the crafty moochers of the world and can discern that a country can be saved only by honourable men and women who understand that a powerful leader is one who is authentic and responsible, worthy of trust, impeccable with their word and takes accountability — it is then that the soul of the country will have a fighting chance to be saved.

Photo credit: (David Harrison, M&G)