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Conscious Leadership vs. Servant Leadership: Why Do We Need Another Leadership “Flavor of the Month”?

Related to the disenchantment with corporate life that is driving people to leave, which I covered a couple of weeks ago, people are growing skeptical, if not cynical, that companies are actually capable of delivering on their promises of positive change in any meaningful way.

Words can be manipulative, cause division where they’re meant to cause unification, and seem pretty empty and meaningless when that’s the case. People are sick of initiatives with catchphrases that amount to nothing actually changing for the better. Change initiatives face enormous resistance, and if an organization uses an inauthentic tactic to execute change, it strengthens that resistance into an even larger obstacle. There’s no sense trying to get buy-in from people who have been duped before.

Some companies are legitimately trying, and their leaders have good intentions. They lack, however, the blueprint, consistency, trust, and/or tools to spread change to every level of their organization and turn that into its new identity. Not all of them can see their blind spots or identify vulnerabilities.

Other companies steamroll change, disregarding casualties and intimidating the survivors into submission…or else.

When starting my new Facebook and LinkedIn groups, I reached out to you for your input on potential names for the groups. The responses that I received demonstrated that people don’t want a new “flavor of the month” when it comes to leadership. It seems people are becoming resigned to anything really transforming systemically. Even if a company can achieve an internal transformation, it sometimes has to operate under a larger system of archaic values and profit models used by its vendors, regulators, shareholders, etc.

About 5 years ago, I was explaining to a client that the way he was describing his philosophy on leadership seemed to align with “servant leadership.” He talked about how he didn’t see himself as the authority. He considered his team members the subject matter experts and he viewed his job as making sure that they had what they needed to perform their best and deliver for the organization. Sometimes that looked like lobbying for new technology, sometimes it looked like fighting for extra bonuses or vacation time, and sometimes it looked like taking all of the blame and accountability for something that went wrong. In his past, it also looked like whistle-blowing against his employer and providing his leadership with a healthy dose of truth when it came to negotiating project scopes and timelines.

At the time, I saw servant leadership as the noblest kind of leadership to emerge. I loved the idea of an upside-down organizational chart where value is shifted to the frontline.

Servant leadership goes back to 1971 although it wasn’t necessarily in every corporate leader’s lexicon until Southwest Airlines brought it en vogue as a model. It then took several other pioneers to demonstrate that this style of leadership is responsible for dramatic performance and engagement improvements.

While Southwest continues to lead in culture and servant leadership, they may not qualify as a consciously led corporation. I read recently that their on-air water quality was among the poorest and contains high levels of E. coli bacteria (that’s the poop bacteria.) This might just be an overlooked facet of their procurement, but it could also be a symptom of leadership that is not fully considering the wellness of people and our planet at all levels of the organization. I’m not saying that they are absolutely not a conscious company, but I am distinguising between servant leadership and conscious leadership.

There is so much I would not refute about the value of servant leadership, but it’s not an end-all, be-all leadership model for 2020 and beyond. Like many “flavor of the month” terms that came before it, once a way of leading earns the spotlight, unconscious companies will come along and “borrow” it. They will make it their new manifesto and try to sprinkle it around to get people excited and re-engaged. They will do this, however, without a real concrete blueprint or training to imbue it into all leadership decisions and relationships at every level of the organization. So, transformation falls flat, the results it was intended to garner don’t last, and the community becomes skeptical of new initiatives. Future change becomes that much harder to execute and accept.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on why NOW is the critical time for conscious leadership to earn the spotlight and get adopted in corporate America.

While conscious leadership certainly shares values with servant leadership, such as authenticity, transparency, and empathy, there are a few key distinctions that augment servant leadership so that results are sustainable and profits don’t come at a cost to people or the planet.

One key difference is accountability. There is a risk in servant leadership that employees, whether engaged or not, will come to expect that a leader is there to create perfect conditions for performance. This nurtures entitlement. Perfect conditions are not always possible. While in conscious leadership, there is the acknowledgement that people perform better when they are supported, they are not supported at the cost of the customer, the growth that will lead to sustainable success, nor the environment. Instead, they lay out the short and long-term potential impacts of change to all potential populations with the input of subject matter experts. Then, they involve the most engaged people on their teams to devise a plan to do the most amount of good while causing the least amount of harm.

“But wait,” you say, “That’s not inclusive of disengaged employees, and how do you decide fairly who is engaged and who isn’t?”

You’re right! That’s why engagement framework comes along with the conscious leadership blueprint. It borrows from traditional engagement surveys, but it is determined by more than just an individual’s perception of his/her own engagement, which can be misrepresented. It includes, but is not exclusively determined by, how well employees meet KPIs. It also incorporates how well this person has aligned with the company’s mission, vision, and values as exhibited by their actions and multi-dimensional feedback. People are not penalized for being on a static track versus a growth track. People can still be engaged in their jobs while they allocate extra focus to other areas of their lives besides work. At times, it’s necessary.

In conscious leadership, leaders invest time in understanding, communicating, and learning how to circumnavigate or achieve their own areas of development. This brings the leader to a human, relatable level with his or her team(s) and demonstrates that being imperfect is okay. It encourages self-reflection as well as openness and honesty. How much of a servant can a leader be, after all, if they remain blind to the real challenges of team members?

Servant leaders are still susceptible to situational greed. It works like this: A leader does good and as a byproduct receives recognition, accolades, and compliments. This releases a flood of feel-good hormones and the brain says, “I want more!” So, with positive reinforcement, the leader continues to do good and continues to be praised. Also, keep in mind that with attention, accolades, praise, and prestige often come lucrative opportunities and chances to integrate with movers and shakers, which makes doing good even more intoxicating.

Now, the leader falls prey to someone promoting a high-prestige program as good that will get the leader even more accolades than before! At some point, the brain switches the motivation to do good from doing good to receiving accolades. This leader is essentially duped by an ill-intentioned leader preying upon this leader’s desire to do good. It turns out that the program was not good or mostly good. In fact, it hurt people. The leader failed to examine all facets of the program and perform conscious due diligence because he or she wanted the praise more than the reality that this program had major flaws and should not have happened.

This leader was a servant leader throughout this scenario – encouraging and supporting the team, giving others credit, doing everything possible to create conducive conditions to top performance. Yet, this leader was not a conscious leader.

A conscious leader would have used a conscious decision protocol to explore all of the known potential short-term and long-term impacts and, even at the risk of making an unpopular decision, would have led a team in deciding that the risk was not worth the reward. Personal gain would have been eliminated from the equation through a self-check that helps leaders recognize when they are operating from ego and switch to the higher self.

A conscious leader also recognizes value systems, belief systems, and methods without discrediting or disregarding other perceptions. That is not to say that a conscious leader has to make all parties happy or even be agreeable to other perspectives. It just means that the impacts on people as they report them are considered valid and are considered – even if in the end, the plan decided on does not accommodate them.

Like all leaders, in a pure definition of a leader as beings someone who creates and develops more leaders, conscious leaders see the development and growth of the team to be the best way to serve the most people and achieve the most good.

If you are interested in learning more about the Conscious Leader Blueprint for Leaders or the Consciousness Ripple Formula for Aspiring Leaders, join my new Raising Corporate Consciousness Facebook group. If you are a conscious leader looking to spread awareness of conscious corporate practices and discuss the challenges of widespread adoption, I invite you to join my new LinkedIn group, the Conscious Leadership Connection.

Stevie Wonder – Higher Ground

1973 – Innervisions Many thanks to ClosedCaptionIt for the captions! If you’re interested in captioning your own videos or someone else’s check out http://ww…

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

When Keeping It Real at Work Goes Wrong

Authenticity is quickly emerging as a top desired quality of conscious leaders in 2020 and beyond. In particular, a leader who can be vulnerable, honest about flaws, accountable for mistakes, and commit to positive change with believable conviction is highly prone to inspiring today’s and tomorrow’s workforce to follow him or her.

Any strength, however, can also be a liability if it’s not balanced by consciousness. An unconscious leader is not self-aware enough to distinguish truth (data, facts) from story (opinion, perception, bias.)

When decisions are made from this place, the ego fights to maintain control, and will staunchly produce confirmation bias. Science has proven that we are all prone to confirmation bias. Self-awareness is like a muscle that can be developed and strengthened over time with practice. Just like any other skill, we can form better habits around self-awareness. It can become something we do automatically as we become unconsciously competent.

Over 15 years ago, Dave Chappell demonstrated the drawbacks to “keeping it real,” and how people sometimes justify outrage, verbal assaults, or even physical assault. In the end, they lose.

Nowadays, with social media even more commonplace, “keyboard warriors” and “trolls” have emerged. We also have the term “snowflakes” to describe those who express an emotional response, take things personally, or voice an opposing opinion with passion.

We have more venues for communication than ever before, and different preferences around communication. Consequently, there’s more than one way people want to be shown respect.

It’s confusing to have so many people trying to influence if, when, and/or how it’s acceptable to express emotions. On top of that, people have an opinion about whether your emotional response is right or wrong. Civil discourse has disintegrated into name-calling and divisiveness that appears to be beyond bridging.

A new generation is entering the workforce with the highest rates of mental illness of any generation. Is this what is causing this?

Way back in Interpersonal Communications, a course I had as a communications major, we learned a very simple method to have effective conversations with people. It started with active listening – listening for comprehension, not reply.

And then, to ensure comprehension, because so much can be subjectively translated based on one’s personal experiences and perceptions, to repeat back to the person your understanding/translation of what they just said. Then asking for clarification, reflecting, and thoughtfully responding.

It seemed then like just a helpful guide for having clear communications, which is VERY easy to NOT do and results in unnecessary stress, conflict, divisiveness, and unharmonious collaboration that stifles progress and wellness.

After years of studying other disciplines that also impact communication, such as neuroscience, the reflection part of this is where there is a development gap, and thankfully mindfulness is coming along to fill that gap.

It’s a busier world now. Unless leaders are consciously making time for conscious reflection. They are prone to making decisions from bias, perception, and opinion. There’s also a need to make sure that future leaders are supported in developing these habits by being able to take regular brain fatigue breaks throughout the day and work reasonable hours. Time off is also important so that people have the ability to travel, to see things from a different perspective, and to turn off the problems and stress of work for periods of time.

Another communication gap is words, or at least, it would seem that it’s words that directly cause a response. Actually, it’s the mindset from which the words originate.

I read a short, but highly impactful book many years ago called Change Your Words; Change Your World by Andrea Gardner. It advised bathing words in your mouth with love before they leave your lips.

Your ego is always trying to convince you that you’re right and others are wrong. Your higher self will favor understanding over judgment.

No one likes feeling judged or being judged. Any hint of judgment in your words can backfire in harmful ways, the least of which is resistance – the opposite outcome you desire.

Make sure you are not insinuating someone is wrong when that is really just your opinion.

Ask yourself if your words are kind, honest, and necessary.

If so, consult with your highest self. “Taste” the words you intend to use. Do they drip with love?

Your ego is real but does not always see the truth. Your highest self is real and sees profound truth. If you’re going to keep it real at work, stay in alignment with your highest self, not your ego. The more you do this, the more automatic it will become. The more automatic it becomes, the more influential and authentic you will grow as a leader.

Fugees – Killing Me Softly With His Song (Official Video)

Fugees’ official music video for ‘Killing Me Softly With His Song’. Click to listen to the Fugees on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/TFSpot?IQid=FKMS As featured…

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

10 Creative Ways to Choose Your Next Employer

Day 291_the Big List by Ana C. on Flickr

Day 291_the Big List by Ana C. on Flickr

 

Alex loves being a Software Engineer, but he has been grumpy about work. The idea of going into work no longer excites him and the passion he once had is nearly gone. Deep inside of himself, Alex knew it was time for a career change. Logically, his current employer looked great on paper: but, he didn’t have a good gut feeling about the job. The work at Alex’s current company wasn’t what he expected based on the interview and he didn’t look well enough into the company before accepting the job. So, he approached his job search from a different angle. Instead of only looking at salary and benefits, Alex wrote down a list of criteria his new employer had to satisfy before he would accept the job. Much of his list focused on the workplace environment, workplace culture, his enthusiasm for the company, and his values. Using the criteria he developed, Alex found an employer that satisfied him. He landed a job with the company and his passion for work was rekindled.

You may be like Alex, dissatisfied with your current employer and ready to make a transition. Or, you may be looking for work, but you don’t want to choose just any employer. Which is wise, even if your are in need of a job, as per our last article. You want an employer that will pay you well, but your job is more than a source of income. You want flexibility, satisfaction, a culture that reflects your personal values, and to be fully engaged on the job. We all intuitively have a list of criteria that we want an employer to fulfill. Sometimes we dismiss our ability to land a job that meets these criteria, but this is seldom based on truth. We use a logical approach when we take a set of facts and form our reasoning based on those facts. An intuitive approach is based on our perception of facts and/or truth and isn’t always based on reasoning. Think your intuition as a split-second “gut feeling”, as opposed to a longer and more reasoned approach with logic. When you don’t use a logical and intuitive approach you wind up in the wrong jobs, which sets us up for failure, ultimately, and wastes your time when you could be fast-tracking your career and income.

When searching for their next job, people often fail to develop a list of criteria. In my article “The Correct Response to a Job Lead” I wrote about how a company needs to meet about 80% of your criteria before you create a connection with them. In that article, I also discussed how to research a company after asking a few practical questions such as company size, location, employee happiness, and how well you could fit a potential position. It is important to develop a criteria list because it will aid you in your development of a target company list.

 

Criteria to consider:

 

  1. Workplace environment:

A workplace environment encompasses everything related to the location of an employer. This includes a geographical location, immediate surroundings (an office park in the suburbs, office building in the city, being near a construction site or surrounded by a small forest), noise levels and even air quality. Would you prefer to work amid the hustle and bustle of a large city, or do you prefer the quieter life in the suburbs? Would a location with very few windows and lots of re-circulated air bother you? Or do you need constant access to fresh air?

 

  1. Management:

Will you like your boss? This is the person you will report to on a daily or weekly basis. If his or her attitude or demeanor is concerning to you, you may eventually clash with their personality. You will have to weigh the benefits of their leadership against their personality. By that, I mean that your potential boss could be difficult to like, but might be an amazing leader. Think of Steve Jobs or Jeff Bozos.

 

  1. Passion and interest:

Will your next job excite you? You may have the skills and qualifications to do a job, but will you feel passionate about your work with a new employer? If you only go through the motions with your job, it won’t be long before dissatisfaction catches up with you. If you don’t care about the work you’re doing it will become evident for everyone to see. Clients, co-workers and subordinates will notice the lack of interest in your work. A job you feel passionate and interested in can challenge you in new ways and provide you with the opportunity to expand your skill set. Will your next employer enable you to be exposed to the areas of interest that you want to further explore? If you find yourself at a job that doesn’t incorporate your abilities, you’ll eventually yearn for a new employer that will put your skills to use.

 

  1. Flexibility:

Will you have the ability to work remotely when needed? Can you take time off when needed? Balance between personal-life and work-life is important. If you have the freedom to create flexible work arrangements, you’ll find yourself less stressed out at home and on the job. Conversely, some people feel that working in a remote and flexible workplace is more challenging and need people there physically to complete the job with a certain quality. If you would be bothered by your co-workers taking advantage of flexible work arrangements, don’t torture yourself by working for a company where these freedoms are extended.

 

5. Job Structure:

How much freedom do you want at work? Are you fearful of micromanagers who are constantly looking over your shoulder? This boils down to what type of worker you are. If you like constant input and feedback, you should consider an employer that works closely with employees. If you prefer to do things on your own terms, you may want a more laid-back management style.

 

6. Public perception of the company:

Will your next employer be a high-profile company? Will you work for a household name, or would you prefer a company very few people know about? If your company is a household name, do they have a positive or negative image? For example, are they a well-loved hardware and software maker? Or are they a notorious monopoly in constant litigation? You may have to ask yourself if the perks and benefits at the company outweigh a negative public perception.

 

7. Force for change:

Will your new employer be a force for good in the world? Do you want your future employer to give back to local communities, donate to charity and place an emphasis on people and profits? And if so, with what non-profit organizations do you align with and that you also want your employer to align?

 

8. Workplace Culture:

A workplace culture is a big factor to take into consideration. A company may have a flexible management style, a causal dress code, and may be geared toward younger workers. Or the workplace could be traditional, with a business professional dress code and workers may be accustomed to greeting each other formally. If you scream for tradition, a culture that embraces a causal style may not be for you. Just as you would consider a company’s culture and if it matches your personal values, a potential employer is just as interested in making sure you’re fit for their culture.

 

9. Values:

Will your job align with your values? Do you care if your employer or your immediate bosses have strong religious beliefs? For example, your employer may insist on adhering to Christian values, especially if they are a smaller company. Does that idea excite or horrify you?  Are you okay with an employer who has different religious beliefs from your own? Or do you prefer an employer not to embrace any religious beliefs? There are also other values to consider, such as political alignment. Many of my clients scratch their heads when I ask them what they believe in, because they wonder why that would be relevant to a job search. However, if you hold your beliefs close to you, and it causes you conflict and stress to be around people who are staunchly opposed to the things you believe strongly, it can impact your quality of work and life. Even if you don’t talk much about these things, if other people do, conflict will be hard to avoid, and while differing views can be a source of growth, it is not always welcomed in the workplace.

 

10. Co-Worker Relationships:

How will you get along with your new co-workers? Unless you’re working remotely, your co-workers are going to be a major influence at your workplace. Will you socialize with them inside and outside of the office? Or do you believe that business and pleasure should not mix? Does your personal life stay at home or do you engage others about life outside of work? You’ll have to consider if your next employer will sponsor activities such as a softball or bowling team and whether you want to attend those events. Would you be comfortable working for a company that believes in team-building retreats and workshops?

 

Tapping into the subconscious to know what’s right for you:

 

Once you have idea of what criteria you want your employer to fulfill, you can use physical and mental exercises to help reflect on your list.

Muscle testing (also known as Applied Kinesiology) is great way to diagnose specific nervous system problem or nutritional deficiencies, and restore energy. Dr. Jeff Echols has a great video that demonstrates how muscle testing is done and its benefits. Some new age career coaches promote muscle testing as a way to help determine if a decision is in alignment with your inner wisdom. This practice can help calm your mind in order to better focus on an important decision. You can use muscle testing to help elicit a true “yes” or “no” answer on whether you should pursue a career opportunity. A sound body helps form a sound mind, and a sound mind helps make important decisions.

Meditation is great way to tap into your subconscious mind, reduce stress and improve concentration. By sitting and concentrating on your breath, you can keep your attention focused. It allows you concentrate on one thing and to block out other distracting thoughts. Once you’re able to sit quietly, focus on your breathing or even chant a mantra (a phrase to help you focus), you can tap into your subconscious mind to reflect on your work-related criteria. It may take some practice but your subconscious mind can help guide you that “yes” or “no” job-related decision.

 

Creating a list of job criteria is one step that far too many job seekers skip. Yes, good pay and benefits are extremely important, but a satisfying career consists of more than pay. Do you love what you do at your job or are you just there to draw a paycheck? Can you imagine waking up each morning and being excited by the work you do? How about the pride that comes with working for an employer who makes a difference in your community? Are you willing to take less pay for a more personally fulfilling job? For example, choosing employment at a non-profit company that directly works with a disadvantaged population, versus employment at a larger for-profit company in the tech sector that may only donate to charity. Your need to make a difference in the lives of others may outweigh superior compensation and benefits. Or you may strive to work at an organization that can provide you with a great salary and the ability to directly help others. We all intuitively know what we want from our lives and how our professional choices will reflect our desires. By developing a list of criteria and tapping in your subconscious, you can choose an employer that will personally satisfy you.

 

If you need or want more help developing a list of criteria, we’re here for you. Our Criteria Identifier and Target Company Evaluator is a tool to help you with your employer research.