In a previous article I briefly explained what it means to be a conscious leader. Today I would like to continue the conversation and dig deeper into what it takes to be a SELFLESS leader.
A leader who operates with a primary emphasis on his or her self-interest naturally views other people as a means to an end. You cannot be a true leader if you operate at that level of consciousness. That is not conscious leadership. The essential elements of what it means to be a conscious leader can be captured in a single word, which also serves as an acronym: SELFLESS
S – Strength
E – Energy and enthusiasm
L – Long-term orientation
F – Flexibility
L – Love and care
E – Emotional Intelligence
S – Systems intelligence
S – Spiritual Intelligence
To me SELF is the foundation of any leadership initiative... big or small, good or bad. But, I would like to skip the SELF for now and instead address the LESS in this article. Stay tuned for a future piece titled 'Leading with SELF'. LESS is about:
L - Love and Care
Well, love and care are the glue of everything sustainable today, be it relationships or business. How could that be? Let’s look at some past great leaders in our history… Ashoka, Lincoln, Gandhi, King, and Mandela. Truly magnificent leaders take the world to a better place.
Intelligence in SELFLESS leaders
Let’s have a closer look at the different kinds of intelligence required to be a healthy conscious leader. Harvard professors and developmental psychologists, Robert Kegan and Howard Gardner, argue that conscious leaders have many kinds of intelligence in different proportions:
- High analytical intelligence, what we know as IQ – the prerequisite for being a successful leader today in large, complex organizations.
- Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
- Spiritual intelligence (SQ)
- Systems intelligence (SYQ)
A fundamental difference between the different types of intelligences is that a person’s IQ does not easily change very much after adulthood begins. On the other end emotional, spiritual, and systems intelligences can be developed and enhanced all our lives.
“… we now recognize that having a high IQ without also having high emotional intelligence (EQ), spiritual intelligence (SQ), and systems intelligence (SYQ) is inadequate and can be harmful to an organization. Bad decisions will be made based on short-term considerations that lack a system wide perspective of what is good for all of the interdependent stakeholders over the long-term.”– Conscious Capitalism
E – Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
Emotional intelligence combines understanding oneself (intrapersonal intelligence) and understanding others (interpersonal intelligence).
Self-awareness is the first pillar of emotional intelligence and is a continuous process that last a lifetime… the universe is at your feet waiting for you to discover it. We can learn about ourselves by becoming aware of our emotions and by understanding why we experience them. Each emotion we experience is a window into who we are and what we care about, often at a subconscious level.
Empathy—the ability to feel and understand what others are feeling—is the second pillar of EQ and it takes willingness to listen to the other part, to be able to feel what the person is feeling. Conscious leaders rise above self-centeredness and cultivate empathy.
So how would you model vulnerability without shame?
In which area could you improve the most? Why?
S - Systems intelligence (SYQ)
System Intelligence is a holistic way of looking at the big picture and understanding how different components of a system interconnect and behave over time. Leaders who use their intuition are usually great at system thinking.
“Systems intelligence is a talent that most societies haven’t recognized, understood, encouraged, or rewarded. Yet in the twenty-first century, as our organizations become more complex and the world becomes increasingly interdependent, it’s hard to overstate how valuable this type of intelligence is.” - Conscious Capitalism Field Guide
Slow down your mind to be able to notice the relationship between things and see the larger system you might be part of.
“You cannot have a conscious business without conscious leadership. Conscious leaders are motivated primarily by service to the firm’s higher purpose and creating value for all stakeholders. They reject a zero-sum, trade-off-oriented view of business and look for creative, synergistic Win-win approaches that deliver multiple kinds of value simultaneously.” – John Hollenbeck, Conscious Capitalism
S - Spiritual intelligence (SQ)
Spiritual Intelligence is our moral compass… how we access our deepest meaning in the world. Now, take a pause, tune in and listen. What is it that wants to move through you? Are you ready to trust it? If you do, it will bring you closer to who you are…there is a lovely connection between SQ and EQ.
Cindy Wigglesworth, author of SQ21: The Twenty-One Skills of Spiritual Intelligence, defines spiritual intelligence as “the ability to behave with wisdom and compassion while maintaining inner and outer peace regardless of the situation.”
Leaders with high spiritual intelligence have an outstanding ability to align their organizations with their organizations’ higher purposes. So, how could you live less from the ‘ego self’ and more from your ‘higher self’ looking at the below set of spiritual skills?
You can assess yourself on each of these twenty-one skills, and identify those that you are most deficient in. Develop a plan to improve these weaker skills.
Therefore, leading with LESS boils down to few simple ideas:
- Truly magnificent leaders take the world to a better place. What is your vision about your own leadership?
- Self-awareness and empathy helps us understand others and ourselves. Conscious leaders rise above self-centeredness and cultivate empathy. How would you model vulnerability without shame? In which area could you improve the most? Why?
- Leaders who use their intuition are usually great at system thinking. Could you identify a larger system you might be part of?
- Spiritual Intelligence is our moral compass. Take the time to pause, tune in and listen. What is it that wants to move through you? Are you ready to trust it?
Emotional, spiritual, and systems intelligences can be developed and enhanced all our lives. How is that for something great? Curveballs are normal and expected part of life. Knowing that we can improve our levels of intelligence means we can improve our lives... and transform the lives of others in the process.
Let's take the necessary steps to recover from the unexpected and keep moving forward. Thank you for reading and I welcome your thoughts and comments. Next, stay tuned for a future piece 'Leading with SELF'!