The Leadership Continuum and Consciousness (Part 1)

I’m reading a fascinating and extremely insightful book called Heart of Europe, a Short History of Poland by Norman Davies.

It’s filled with marvelous insights into the history of the Polish people, their rich heritage, and the chain of events that led to their fall into an abyss of ineffective leadership – and the country’s resultant collapse into mediocrity, poverty, and despair.

Unfortunately, leadership principles may be simple, but not always easy to follow, as evidenced by those who fought and died for their dreams of a free Poland and free Europe during WWII.

Poland is a marvelous laboratory for the dissection of corrupt, ineffective leadership, and a reminder to us that a mighty country, culture, or corporation is not immune to the influence of negative leadership expression.

What happens to the part, eventually overtakes the whole. Leaders may have abandoned Poland to her own personal hell, but when we turn our back on our allies (or various divisions, departments, or people within our constituency), who shall we turn to in our time of need? If we do not sow loyalty and integrity, we cannot expect to reap a bountiful harvest.

Here, then are some musings that arose about conscious and unconscious leadership as it pertains to the leadership continuum.

For the purpose of this post, I define conscious as being aware of oneself and others. Generally speaking, a conscious individual is aware of their impact on people and the world. They know themselves and their ego/personality is under control. Generally speaking, aware individuals find satisfaction through offering value and/or service to others.

Conscious leadership includes win-win relationship building, open honest communication, transparency, and positive attributes such as caring, honesty, patience, discipline, encouragement, and willingness to stand for the greater good of all parties concerned.

Unconscious is defined as being unaware of oneself and others as part of a connected whole. Such a leadership style is outer directed. An unexamined ego/personality driven consciousness seeks to add to itself at the expense of others, a win-lose scenario. Unconscious people are generally unaware of their inner terrain, and how it impacts their actions and thoughts. Greed, envy, jealousy, retribution, anger, and other negative expressions are frequently present as part of the leadership style. Blaming, shaming, and controlling are used and there is no developed ability for self reflection and self knowledge.

Rather than label people as conscious or unconscious however, learn to speak in a way that they can hear, and pay attention to your intuition while doing so! When we approach life with a focus on curious observation, rather than judgment, we cultivate compassion for those that are at different places on the leadership spectrum.

View consciousness just as you would view the growth of a child. We don’t condemn a toddler when they won’t share their toys or punch another child. We educate and offer consequences for actions that are harmful to another.

There are many levels of conscious and unconscious behavior, and every one of us has our blind spots. That is precisely why others are mirrors for us. We can neither like nor dislike what we see in another, unless the potential first exists within our self. Let’s not be quick to judge others, lest we be judged ourselves.

To paraphrase Michael Jackson’s song, The Man in the Mirror, a conscious leader looks in the mirror every time (s)he looks at another, recognizing that what is seen in the other is nothing more than something that already exists within themselves….and if they want to change the world, the only place to start is with the world within. Consciousness sees itself reflected everywhere it goes, whether aware or not. The aware person sees, while the unaware person is yet to open their eyes.