As a human, you wake up everyday and make several choices within just a few minutes of opening our eyes – what to wear, whether to check your email, what to eat for breakfast, do you want a cup of coffee…the list goes on. In that space, when you slowly open your eyes, squint at the sun peaking through the curtains, and do a full body stretch, you also choose your mindset – how you will show up. Now this is an important decision for anyone, but a critical one for leaders.
What’s So Important About Mindset?
Our mindset dictates how we show up, who we are in our personal and professional lives, and how we engage with the world. It’s deeply personal because it’s your attitude about yourself and your abilities. The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. Conscious leadership starts with understanding your mindset and what feelings, emotions, and stories you’re carrying around with you that impact the way you lead others.
Conscious leadership is what most people managers strive for when leading their teams, and something pivotal happens when you move from being an individual contributor to managing others. No longer is it solely about your accomplishments, it’s about empowering your team to achieve great things. This is a mindset shift when it comes to not only how you manage yourself from an emotional intelligence perspective but also how you lead others in a resonant way.
There are many types of leaders – some may lead with charisma, while others lean on thoughtfulness. Regardless of your style, conscious leaders focus on the “we” rather than the “me.” They inspire positive transformation and bring out the best in those around them. Those who are resonant leaders combine their unique strengths to spark inspiration and ignite motivation to achieve amazing growth for their team.
What is Conscious Leadership?
Simply put, conscious leadership is bringing one’s whole self, and with total awareness, to your leadership role. When you woke up this morning, did you bring your whole self to work? When looking at your leadership “wardrobe” did you selectively don your strategic hat but set aside your operational jacket? Or maybe you chose to wear your empathy pants with your accountability hoodie but forgot your analytical socks? Conscious leaders must layer – and the base layer is your mindset.
An easy way to think about mindset starts with a line. At any given time, leaders are either above or below the line.
Below the line lies the Fixed mindset. This is the place our brain naturally retreats to when we sense danger. Our fight or flight response takes hold of our thoughts, causing us to doubt our abilities, spiral on untruths, and operate from a place of fear.
Above the line is where the Growth mindset exists and it’s based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others. The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of this mindset.
As a leader, operating above the line and in a growth mindset means you’re asking questions from a place of curiosity – how can I be better about communicating expectations? What have we learned from this experience?
Operating below the line in a fixed mindset lends one to ask questions from a place of fear – why is this happening to me? Why can’t my team just perform better? There’s a distinct difference in the chemistry of your conscious, analytical brain.
Knowing that you’re below the line is more important than being below the line. The first mark of conscious leadership is self-awareness and the search for truth. The second is pausing, taking a second, and shifting yourself into an open and curious state, and rising above the line.
Conscious Leadership is about recognizing when the emotions of fear, anger, sadness have gripped our thought processes and are in the driver’s seat. The ability to let go of these emotions and shift back to a state of curiosity and receptivity is the foundation of conscious leadership. Check-in with your mindset – are you above or below the line? What do you need to shift or let go of in order to move above the line?
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