As I am watching the campaigning on television for the Governor of Illinois where I currently reside, I am wondering about concept of conscious leadership. To give some background, in Illinois four out of last seven governors went to jail. We have a severe budget crisis due to budget stalemate that started in 2015 and went on for 793 days and finally ended in July 2017. Illinois was the first state to have credit rating go to “junk” status. State agencies have had to cut back on many essential services including healthcare for the people who needed the most care, which I experienced first-hand while taking care of my patients.
My question is, what makes a great leader? Is it education, wealth, charisma, power or strength? In my opinion, the 3 requirements for conscious leadership are personality, vision and values.
“A leader is the one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way”--John C. Maxwell.
In Bhagavad Gita (700 verse Hindu scripture which is part of epic Mahabharata), Lord Krishna gives teachings about being a conscious leader to warrior prince Arjuna after seeing his reluctance for fighting the battle of good against evil.
- Visionaries- Conscious leaders can see things the common person does not see. Because their vision originates in their heart, it is all inclusive and benefits all beings.
- Peaceful and focused mind – During difficult situations our minds have the tendency to go to negative events in the past or worry about the future, but conscious leader stays in present moment focusing their mind on one thing at a time which makes them great problem solvers. They are able to manage minds of others because they know how to manage their own mind. Great leaders seeks truth within themselves (self-knowledge) and have courage to deal with uncomfortable truths. They know that when the mind is peaceful, wisdom naturally arises.
- “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others use your heart”--Eleanor Roosevelt
- Empower others - Real leaders rise to the occasion during crisis or tough situation and they are made by people. They don’t have to assert their wills on people. Good leaders are able to win the hearts and wills of people when they first connect with them. They understand what people need and want and empower them to achieve results themselves. True leaders gain trust by looking out for everyone’s best interest on an unconditional basis. When a person is facing problems or have tendency to give up, the leader points them to their inner strength and help them maintain balance in difficult situations. Good leaders don’t compare. They focus on each person’s strength and uniqueness and by encouragement and support they are able to bring out the best in each person. Great leaders encourage people in the right direction as long as they are doing good work and they never dictate how it is done.
- “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things”-- Ronald Reagan.
- Service oriented – Great leaders don’t use “I” or “mine” but rather use the words “we”, “our” and “us”. They give credit to everyone for wins. They are able to see God in everyone and everything. Conscious leaders see their work as duty or service and not responsibility because they realize that only God is ultimately responsible for the whole universe.
- Steadfast and resilient - Great leaders have to courageously face and conquer many of their inner demons and also face many difficulties from outside because of their ability to challenge the status quo. In spite of these challenges, the great leader continues to focus on looking at possibilities, expansion, increase and transcendence. They live above the illusions of praise/blame and success/failure. They don’t let limitations of one’s self or others stop them. They end up conquering all fears including fear of death as they realize the eternity dwelling within themselves.
- Integrated personality – Great leaders are flexible, strong, organized and balanced and all aspects of their personality are harmonious. They take responsibility for their actions, inactions or perceived mistakes. Good leaders don’t mind working hard. They are able to unite people and build connections in simple ways as they realize that when people work together they grow together by becoming more tolerant, accepting and forgiving of each other. Conscious leaders are trustworthy and are good role models as they believe in leading by example.
Vision of conscious leaders comes from the heart which results in “out of box thinking” or creative solutions which are relevant to all involved. Good leaders share their vision as a goal or focus and empower everyone to be a leader in their own way to achieve this vision by leaving all differences aside.
Values (Guidelines or teachings or codes of conduct)
Wisdom of the conscious leader’s teachings and values act as guidelines or roadmaps to achieve this common vision. Their values are heart-based such as unity, love, freedom and peace.
For example, Mahatma Gandhi united all Indians to achieve the vision of freedom of India from British rule by using values of Truth and Non-violence.
“In conflict between brain and heart follow your heart”--Swami Vivekananda.
In our personal lives conscious leadership can be practiced by making your heart (soul) in charge of your life over your brain (ego). For example, if your life was a car, your soul vision would be the destination on GPS, ego would be the chauffeur and your Soul would be the Master sitting in back seat giving directions to the chauffeur.
All of us have potential to be great leaders. In some ways we already are leaders in our families, workplaces and communities in small or big ways. My hope for my state, country and the world is to have conscious leaders in all fields, who work for betterment of humanity and our planet Earth.