A Conscious Leadership Paradox: Companies Need to Slow Down to Speed Up
Have you ever been to a fairground and seen one of those machines that has loads of coloured balls flying this way and that under turbulence from a high pressured stream of air being fed into a closed, transparent box? It occurs to me that this, sadly, is a fairly accurate metaphor for far too many companies in this day and age.
I see the manifestations of this almost every day in my coaching suite; senior executives placed under a relentless and high pressured barrage of often changing priorities and pressing issues. These executives are successful people who do not shy away from hard work, but it seems to me that the sheer tsunami of work which seems ever more the norm, threatens to drown even the most competent of leaders.
Increasingly of late, I wonder if we are heading toward a crisis of corporate burnout and certainly, it is not uncommon for me to see executives who finally reach breaking point and leave these toxic environments behind. This is, of course, a huge loss to an organisation; yet competent, well-trained, senior executives are increasingly refusing to accept this as the status quo.
Of course, it does not have to be this way. Very often I find that such toxic environments stem from cultures rooted in fear. In turn, further exploration often unearths a chief executive, board or senior management team hampered by traditional, ego-full attitudes toward leadership.
Thankfully, a new, more compelling option is emerging; that of Conscious Leadership. Conscious Leadership is rooted in the antithesis of fear; love. It is a mature, cutting-edge approach to leadership which teaches us that we can be even more successful, even more profitable and even more sustainable when we learn how to set aside our ego and genuinely serve our followers.
The idea is simple, although the practice is less easy. However, for organisations running harder and harder just to keep up as economic ‘permafrost’ sets in, leaders need to create calm out of chaos and clarity from confusion. Surprisingly, the antidote to the problem seems paradoxical; in order to regain our footing on the right side of the productivity curve, we need to slow down. I believe that a crucial practice for any Conscious Leader in these difficult times is to create a discipline of stillness. A formal meditation practice is not necessary (although extremely beneficial) but taking 15 to 20 min out of each day to just be still and present assists us in grounding ourselves and developing personal resilience.
In the challenging times ahead, it seems that these capacities will no longer be a ‘nice to have’ but become increasingly essential to maintaining competitive edge. What are your experiences of the impact of stillness (or lack of it) in leadership and organisations?