Being conscious is to be awake and aware, yet there are multiple aspects of consciousness. To run a conscious company, leaders must be aware of all of them.

Over the last several years, the term conscious has been introduced as critical for successfully leading a company. Being conscious is to be awake and aware, yet there are multiple aspects of consciousness. To run a conscious company, leaders must be aware of all of these aspects.

Let’s look at some familiar aspects of consciousness.

Physical consciousness. You lead through your physical presence. I assume you’ve mastered the various physical skills of your job and aren’t wandering the halls of your company like an animated zombie. Action is the key aspect of your physical consciousness. Taking action produces results, yet it’s only about 10 percent of your potential consciousness.

Imagination consciousness. Your imagination assists you in accomplishing your dreams. Dreaming of different things takes imagination. Some leaders have imagined entirely different futures for their companies—Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, is a good example of this—while other leaders have difficulty imagining what to have for lunch.

Emotional consciousness. Emotion is energy in motion. When you are conscious of your emotions, you will feel this energy flowing through you almost like a swiftly moving river. Learning to direct these emotions for positive outcome is part of developing emotional intelligence. As you develop this aspect of consciousness, you’ll have more success influencing, inspiring, and helping others achieve their dreams.

Mental consciousness. Neuroscience and mindfulness have added significant awareness to our leadership. Thinking is not a natural process. It requires development and experience. Most people don’t think—they react to situations and circumstances and hope you’ll believe they have thought things out. Many leaders have not fully developed their mental consciousness and are reactive in their approach to leading.

Subconscious and unconscious awareness. Our subconscious and unconscious act as a warehouse to collect items that we have created, promoted, or allowed yet never completed. This level of awareness requires discernment. What may have been written as a goal in last year’s strategic plan (but was never implemented) may or may not be important today. Each person on the leadership team may have a different perception about the goal based on how their mind and emotions have shaped their perceptions. Observing these different perceptions and discerning if this prior goal is still relevant to the success of the organization is a key part of leading a conscious company.

Soul awareness. Over all of the other aspects of human consciousness resides the soul. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French Jesuit priest in the first half of the 1900s, is credited with saying, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Many different spiritual teachers through the mists of time have expressed similar words. Suspend disbelief for a moment, and consider how you might lead others if you believed this was true for you and true for everyone else. Would your leadership be different? How so?

While intellect is of the mind and requires ongoing study, intelligence is of the soul. We move into and out of soul awareness on a daily basis, but most people are not capable of holding that consciousness for extended periods of time. Those flashes of brilliance, joy, connectedness, and unconditional love that we experience are all reflections of the essence we all are.

It is through our multidimensional awareness of soul that leadership transcends to become inclusive and approaches leading a company from the perspective of for the highest good.

Summum bonum is a Latin expression meaning “the highest good.” Many authors, from Plato and Aristotle to modern authors such as Robert Greenleaf and John-Roger, have woven this principle into all of their teachings.

The challenge for conscious leaders is defining their stakeholders. When they discus “all concerned,” are they referring only to owners and employees? Do they also include suppliers and, if so, how far down the supply chain does this extend? Do they include the communities where the suppliers operate? This is where the self builds outer actions by looking specifically at people who are responsible for profits and planet.

Becoming a conscious leader often requires revising traditionally held beliefs and practices. This is not only possible and practical, but it is also proven to be highly beneficial—and today perhaps is even required.

Gregory Stebbins

Dr. Stebbins senior business leadership experience is combined with his in-depth understanding of the complex human dynamics found in a working environment and an ongoing five decade meditation practice. He is a member of the Consulting Psychologist division of the American Psychological Association. He earned an MBA in Finance from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles and an Ed.D. from Pepperdine University’s school of education and psychology. Greg has been listed in Marquis Who’s Who in the World for more than three decades.