I've taken on the brand "conscious society" because I thought it best represented the end goal - communities of people aware of what informs their choices, meaning they have more control over their choices. That, and it's a play off of "The Just Society" (I do love my word play). It doesn't really matter to me whether this term or some other becomes the one that sticks - so long as it isn't Aquarian Conspiracy.
I do enjoy the fact that Deepak Chopra is thinking the same thing, though...
(In this series of posts we're discussing the qualities of leadership using the acronym L-E-A-D-E-R-S. The sixth letter, "R," stands for responsibility.)
Being responsible is the mark of a mature, conscious person - no one disputes this. But success also requires risk-taking, intuitive leaps, innovation, and thinking outside the box. Those values will be quashed if leadership is totally conservative and cautious. You don't have to view "responsible" as synonymous with caution and a policy of no risks. Being responsible, seen in the wider context, means showing initiative, taking mature risks rather than reckless ones, walking the talk, having integrity, and living up to your inner values. Seen from the level of the soul, a leader’s greatest responsibility is to lead the group on the path of higher consciousness.
In practice, there is a hierarchy of steps that you can climb, beginning with a lack of recklessness and rising to the top, where you are responsible for imparting the highest values of your vision. All of us fall somewhere on this path.
You earn your credentials for being a responsible leader through the following behaviors, which are noted and imitated by the rest of the group:
1. You show that actions have consequences.
2. You don't say one thing and do another.
3. You don't shirk the hard choices or delegate them to others so that you are covered no matter what happens.
4. You don't have henchmen who do the dirty work so that your hands look clean.
5. If you back someone up, you establish a bond that they can depend on.
6. You treat people decently, putting everyone on an equal plane.
7. You are cautious with other people's money, taking seriously your fiduciary responsibility.
If you follow these principles, you will succeed on many levels, engendering an atmosphere of trust and loyalty. Working in such an atmosphere, the group will feel secure at a basic level that is very necessary. Insecurity creates massive stress and all the problems that attend it.
But we have to be realistic, too. Today more than ever, it takes consciousness to keep on the responsible track. For many in business, responsibility has become an old-fashioned value to be shrugged off in favor of profitability. The financial crash of 2008 was engineered through a flagrant lack of responsibility, combined with risk-taking far out of bounds with sensible practice. Yet the lesson that the financial sector took away was the opposite of responsible. With record profits and huge bonuses in the offing, they went back to a slightly modified version of their worst practices.
All of this took place within a larger trend of income inequality, the deterioration of worker's benefits, lost pensions, and pressure to show a rising profit to shareholders. If you expect to be a leader, you must decide personally if you are going to follow the trend or hold on to your own values. The ultimate responsibility is the one you owe to yourself.
When I teach executives about the soul of leadership, there's an overall vision I hold out:
Leading from the soul means that you take responsibility for more than the group’s needs. You have a concern for everyone’s person growth. This responsibility begins with your own evolution. In eight areas of your life you have the power to be guided by your soul: thoughts, emotions, perception, personal relationships, social role, environment, speech, and the body. In all of these areas your behavior affects the people you lead. If you evolve, so will they.
To lead from the soul means that evolution is your top priority. You never act in such a way that you lower the self-esteem of others. You examine your underlying beliefs and modify them as new opportunities for growth reveal themselves. Because evolution is an unstoppable force in the universe, you draw upon invisible powers. Therefore, being responsible is no longer a burden. It rests lightly on you as long as you continue to grow.
In my experience, this vision is embraced enthusiastically by top executives. They all know the burden of responsibility and carry it. They are relieved to hear about a path where responsibility isn't a burden. We'll talk more about it in the next post.
Leadership: Do You Have What It Takes?
(To be cont.)
Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 70 books with twenty-one New York Times bestsellers. FINS - Wall Street Journal, stated that “The Soul of Leadership”, as one of five best business books to read for your career. Co-author with Rudolph E. Tanzi, their latest New York Times bestseller, Super Brain: Unleashing The Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-being (Harmony, November 6, 2012) is a new PBS special.