Anyone can step into conscious leadership, but it does take something – courage.
Once you are conscious, it is a compulsion. Just like you can’t unknow something, but you can forget, you can’t become unaware and then lose that awareness. You can, however, become less aware. It’s easy, really, in this hustle and bustle, noisy world.
Last week I made a plea and gave the following challenge to a little over 20 people who are seeking change in their employment situation.
If you are currently working, and there is something you really enjoy about your job that makes you hesitant to change, first step into conscious leadership and make a case for improving the situation for all.
The top three reasons people leave jobs (money, a bad boss, and lack of growth opportunity) may be something you can change. It’s not always possible, but I’d wager that it’s more changeable than you assume.
Conscious leadership starts first with self-awareness. It requires refuting your bias, including a bias that things are a certain way or people are a certain way, and they can’t change. The growing sentiment of resignation is the most dangerous threat to progress and real positive change.
For many years in my business, especially as I was raising small children, I was content to help leaders land new opportunities where they were able to contribute their whole selves, expand and grow, and improve their lifestyle. However, over the last few years, I have begun to think more about the casualties left behind. The people who are now left to suffer through bad conditions, those who are at risk of losing their jobs due to unsustainable or unethical business practices, and those who will continue to be underpaid, undervalued, and living less than their best lives unnecessarily while unscrupulous, greedy “leaders” make decisions that conserve their way of life at the cost of others.
I can only help so many people by working with people one-on-one. It’s time that I and other conscious leadership coaches make a compelling call to action to inspire more leaders to follow the Conscious Leadership framework. This way, rather than just saving themselves from a bad situation, they can take action to improve the situation for their teams and across the organization.
This is no small feat, and it takes extreme courage. I get that not many are willing to risk their jobs, income, financial security, and potentially their lifestyle to answer this call to action. Additionally, there is no guarantee that it will make a difference. However, I think about the people of the past who were willing to speak out a risk their relationships, homes, freedom, and lives for the sake of a better world. We need more of these people in corporations right now.
The following are particular situations in which stepping into conscious leadership does the highest good versus stepping out into a new company:
- When your company keeps losing good talent, but their mission is critical to saving and improving lives.
- When you love something about your job, like the commute, your boss, or your team, but decisions being made from higher-ups are proving detrimental to the company’s performance, the customer, or the planet.
- When innovation lags, creating a competitive chasm that puts jobs at risk.
- When stress is causing burnout, high disengagement rates, or even sabotage.
How do you do this?
As I mentioned, it starts with self-awareness, then expands to “other-awareness” – empathy, and then to advocacy and execution.
In a company, change starts with a business case. It’s a goal of every company to stay in business or to sell for a profit. This requires making the business as strong and sustainable as possible.
Those issues that have you wanting to leave are vulnerabilities to a business’s sustainable success. Losing talent further weakens the company. Most likely, a company will have to hire someone at a higher salary/rate than they paid a tenured person. Further, they lose the knowledge capital, relationships built, and potentially face costly setbacks on deliverables.
There has never been a better talent market than right now for someone like you to make a case for improvements that enhance working conditions, engagement, retention, customer experience, and income.
Making a business case is essentially how you get decision-makers to understand the short and long-term business benefits of change – all kinds of change.
Below are the major steps and guidelines in presenting a business case.
When making a business case:
- Gain clarity on the most pressing issue using available data, e.g. P&L reports, customer satisfaction surveys, empirical data about the number of people who have left, etc.
- Evaluate and pressure test as many solutions as possible, asking direct stakeholders for input on how the solutions will impact their contributions directly and indirectly
- Assess and analyze stakeholder’s priorities and agendas
- Do your research on costs vs. benefits of proposed changes
- Anticipate objections; validate and address them upfront
- Scrutinize all potential costs, including non-monetary costs/losses, researching the least expensive, effective options, etc.
- Present facts, data, and case studies as stories
- Refer to the company’s own mission/vision statements and quotes from press releases
- Promote the competitive advantage of your proposed change
- Paint a clear picture of all of the ways in which the business will thrive after the proposed change is implemented
- Compose your presentation professionally as a slide deck, white paper, video, or Flipboard.
- Don’t use “should” language; instead, use “if/then” statements
- Identify and engage an influential sponsor using all of the above
- Make a clear ask that outlines all that would be necessary and nice-to-have in order to achieve the outcome you have promoted
- If rejected, ask them to help you understand why
- Re-strategize and re-present using feedback
Just like any communications process, the outcome has more to do with the spirit and emotion that the communication is sourced from versus the actual words chosen.
For an optimal outcome, be in the spirit of the company’s best interest at all critical junctures: procuring input, soliciting a sponsor, requesting a meeting to present, while presenting, upon closing and in the follow-up.
Communicate from the emotion of confidence that the stakeholders and decision-makers are wise enough to see your proposed change as a no-brainer once you have presented all the facts. Along with the solution and the ask, identify what decision-makers have to do to fulfill the proposed change.
I get that this process may be too much for you to undertake if what you are fighting against is being spread too thin.
Even so, you still might consider taking action, and I hope you do.
There is potential loss should this not produce the desired outcome. Stepping up to leadership can create rifts and speaking out can ruffle feathers. The gains, however, are not to be overlooked.
Imagine that you present your case using this proven method, fail, and everyone knows it. Even then, you’ve just answered some looming questions on people’s minds about the prospects of things getting better. Even if you were not able to create change at your company, you have given people a reason to follow your lead now and jump ship. So, essentially, you still saved them! You’ve also still inspired people to advocate for themselves and others. You may have even earned some loyalty from people who will now follow you anywhere knowing you have their back. This social capital is a tremendous asset to your career and can be leveraged to help you land and negotiate a great salary. So, you may suffer some short-term losses, but you ultimately gain in the long run! Though what you tried to teach the business decision-makers may not have had an impact while you were there, they may take a second look at what you proposed once you and a bunch of people leave after you leave the organization. Then you will have also still saved them and the company.
I do have to warn you that if you miss critical steps, come from a misguided mindset, or fall into many of the common consciousness traps, you may create new problems for yourself and/or others.
However, I am confident that you are fully capable of embracing and embodying conscious leadership. It might just very well be your next best career adventure and an optimal chance to reach your own potential and leave a legacy.
The Epic Careering Conscious Leadership framework called the Consciousness Ripple Formula will be launched in the coming weeks to usher people through creating transformational outcomes.
The Consciousness Ripple Formula will include:
- Simple and Sneaky Soft Skills Training
- Mastering Influence
- The Conscious Decision Protocol
- Stimulating Sponsorship Step-by-Step
- Clear and Compelling Communication
- Conquering Calendars
More information will be available soon. In the meantime, please join the consciousness conversation. If you are interested in learning more about the Consciousness Ripple Formula, join my new Raising Corporate Consciousness Facebook group. If you are a conscious leader looking to spread awareness of conscious corporate practices, I invite you to join my new LinkedIn group, the Conscious Leadership Connection.
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.