7 Top Traits of Conscious Leaders
Mindful Awareness practices and training have spread widely with great implications for effective leadership. So many leadership models talk about “what to do” and “how to achieve” goals or “how to influence” people to follow them.
However, being able to influence people is not enough. Tom Rath and Barry Conchie, in their book, Strengths Based Leadership, published by Gallup, tell us four reasons why people follow a leader based on four basic needs: trust, compassion, stability, and hope. You may think of any person in your life like a grandmother, a teacher, your boss, or someone in the public domain that you spontaneously felt drawn to and genuinely wanted to be like them or do what they do. Did you feel you trust them? Did you feel their compassion? Did you feel you can count on them to be stable? Did you feel hopeful by their guidance or direction?
Working with hundreds of leaders, entrepreneurs, managers, executives, and others who lead in some way, I have noticed those four qualities in only a handful of leaders. My own grandmother was one of them. The commonality amongst them was a higher level of mindful awareness. Awareness about their own internal life and their impact on their environment. This level of awareness is vital for any successful leader. The good news is that leaders may develop the ability to engage their people through these four qualities of trust, compassion, stability, and hope with Mindful Awareness practices. Moreover, research shows mindful awareness practiced regularly can become a trait, which means it becomes effortless.
Here are seven skills/traits combined as the COMANDS model for Conscious Leadership and effective results. Here is a brief summary.
1. Connectivity – This is an understanding of the interconnectedness within all aspects of life. A leader in COMANDS leads through integration and connectivity both intuitively and strategically and creates break-through results. As Diarmuid O’Murchu said, “We are not journeying in the universe but with the universe. We are not concerned about living in an evolving world but co-evolving with our world.” Leading through Connectivity, a leader understands that every thought, choice, speech, and action impacts the web of interconnectedness of all things. This includes oneself. Therefore, one is careful about their choices.
2. Openness – This is curiosity, adaptability, and going with the flow at its best. The ability to see change as it happens, to witness the passing of time and the passage of the content within time on a day-to-day, even moment to moment basis. Having the skill and awareness of the natural phenomena of all things passing, and leading with Openness, a leader understands that pre-designed strategies and plans may or may not fit change as is occurring at the moment. Hence, they are able to adjust, adapt to, and proceed with ease and wisdom. The Dalai Lama said, “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.” Leading through COMANDS, the leader actively practices openness to limitless possibilities and generously shares resources, knowledge, expertise, and other natural gifts.
3. Mind Management – The mind is one of the most important elements in human life and management. It is through the mind that all information is regulated and interpreted. UCLA Professor and brain expert, Daniel J. Siegel, M.D, explains in order to be effective in life it is necessary to have a well-balanced and healthy mind, one that is well-integrated. He explains not having a well-integrated brain results in “Rigidity and/or chaos and result in symptomatic conditions that may be experienced as inflexible, maladaptive, incoherent, deflated and unstable.” Research indicates mindfulness practices help integrate different functions of the brain. The better integrated the brain the more flexible, sharp, coherent, compassionate and stable the leader may be. Daily awareness practices, even as simple as being aware of every step as you walk, your breath as you sit, and the sense of touch as you pick up the fork to eat can add tremendous strength to your mental capacities.
4. Accountability – Here is a slightly different and more useful definition for Accountability. A definition that works as a preventative measure, rather than taking responsibility for one’s actions after the fact. Account-Ability is the ability to account for the results of one’s actions. This accounting process begins with taking note of one’s intentions, thoughts, feelings, perceptions, choices, and the actions they produce. Actions and intentions are not separate from each other. Being aware of the interconnectedness of all things, an Account Able leader is clear about the impact of their choices and actions and act in ways that does not cause harm to others or to themselves. Some call this moral or ethical behavior. In fact all aspects of the COMANDS model bring our attention to one most important natural law. The law of cause and effect or Karma, which are actions with intention. In the law of karma, we are impacted by the outcome of our choices and actions. The technology in Accountability in the COMANDS model is the ability to account for cause and effect of all actions while still in the thought stage.
5. Need Assessment – Is the most important stage of planning. Every year billions of dollars are wasted on projects that go to a halt because they are the wrong solution to the wrong problem or because of insufficient assessment of needs and the elements that make a project successful. These needs could be about the customer, the environment, employees, the budgeting, methodology used, and a myriad of others. It is also important to investigate the result of any implementation and make sure the results don’t create other unmeetable needs. Leading through COMANDS, a leader is aware that neglecting, ignoring, or not understanding their constituents’ personal and professional needs can be detrimental to the project’s success and satisfaction of all parties. They use 360-degree assessment tools to ensure no stone is left unturned.
6. Discipline – In order to implement any of these traints practice and training are necessary. Discipline is the power of the COMANDS Model. In order to cultivate these traits, it takes discipline and continuity. Without the discipline to practice any concept or training, nothing really changes. First, we learn about all the ins and outs of the new path (COMANDS Model of leadership), then willfully practice each aspect to make them a trait. Jim Collins, the author of best selling book, Good To Great, explains that one of the most important aspects that set Good to Great companies apart from their counterpart is, discipline. Good to Great companies have “Disciplined people with disciplined thoughts and disciplined actions.”
7. Simplicity – Life is often too complicated. We create concepts too abstract and purposes too vague. Goals and strategies may be too complex and bureaucracy too thick. Leading through COMANDS, a leader is able to communicate the vision, mission, purpose, goals, ideas, direction, and procedures with simple, clear, and brief descriptions; in a way that all levels of followers may understand and implement. Einstien said, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, then you don’t understand it either.”