Mahatma Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” We’ve all heard that a thousand times. Yet have you ever stopped to consider the implications of truly BEING the change? For the Conscious Leader, BEING the change is a tall order, and it requires 3 key elements that may not be immediately obvious. These elements, while difficult for some to master, are the building blocks for the Conscious Leader.
Key Element 1: The Conscious Leader is Open to Change. As leaders we often say that our organization needs to change this or that. So we gather data that demonstrates to the organization how its current way of being is ineffective and how being different would “improve” it. We begin a campaign to make the organization be open to change whether it wants to or not.
The Conscious Leader realizes that in order for the organization to be open to change, the leader himself must be open to change…open to seeing things differently. Interestingly, organizations are composed of …well…individual humans. In order for the organization to change, the individual humans inside the organization must be open to change. The individual humans must be open to evolution and growth not only within the construct of the organization but throughout the larger realm of their lives. As the Conscious Leader develops his own personal openness to change and growth, the organization around him becomes open to change and growth.
Key Element 2: The Conscious Leader does not waste energy DOING the change. Many organizations spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on employee engagement surveys. The results come back indicating that engagement is lower than desired, and employees complain about feedback, assignment and promotion processes, and evaluation systems. So organizations institute classes on feedback and career development, mandate review processes, and track the number of conversations that supervisors have with employees. A year later they do another survey and discover that the results have not changed. What happened? The members of the organization wasted time, energy and money DOING the change, not BEING it.
The Conscious Leader recognizes that BEING must come BEFORE DOING. The difference is very subtle and very powerful. Providing feedback and career development conversations will not create an organization with highly engaged employees. DOING the change. Rather an organization with highly engaged employees will automatically provide helpful feedback and develop powerful career development processes that work for everyone. The Conscious Leader knows that the only way to create an organization composed of highly engaged employees is to become one himself…BEFORE asking or expecting it of others. BEING the change.
Key Element 3: The Conscious Leader does not WAIT ON change. This may be the most difficult element of all. It can be easy to say, “This job will get better when I get a [newsupervisor/budget/office/the regs change/my husband’s job let’s us move]. When [that thing] happens, I will have a job I love. Until then I’ll tolerate things as they are.” News Flash: When you tolerate a job that does not make your heart sing, you cannot offer your highest and best self. Yes, you may work very hard, and you will be doing the best that you can…in that situation. But it will NOT be the best that you are truly capable of. With each day that goes by, you will sell a larger piece of your soul for the sake of a paycheck. In some cultures, they call that prostitution.
The Conscious Leader does not wait for things to change around her. She acknowledges that the change she seeks is already inside her and makes choices, large and small, in support of the change. She acts AS IF the change she wanted has already happened…AS IF she already has a boss she loves (and interacts with the current one in that manner); AS IF she already has the new office (and maintains the old one accordingly). As she consistently chooses in favor of those things that are most aligned with the world she wants to see, she BECOMES the change.
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