What characteristics do Conscious Businesses share?
Because Conscious Business is an adaptive response to external pressure points, it manifests in a variety of forms according to the source of pressure. Thus some expressions focus on environmental issues; others on social justice; others on the redistribution of wealth etc. Despite these outer differences, it is possible to discern at least 10 key characteristics held in common.
Conscious Business is not a thing but a process and practice – the sum total of choices made consciously by business people committed to growing themselves and their people. So the adjective “conscious” is an umbrella-style term encompassing the characteristics listed below. A contemporary metaphor might help clarify. Imagine business as a computer. In this instance Conscious Business would be neither an app nor a software upgrade but a whole new operating system. As a consequence, it would demand practice and patience before the user gains mastery. The payoffs are similar – an increase in performance, more processing power and the occasional moment of joy when you generate results you previously thought were out of reach!
1. AWAKE, AWARE, ALERT
Conscious Business is conducted by “conscious people” i.e., those who have ceased to act as robots but are mindful , awake and aware of the choices they make and their likely impact on others. They know that you cannot lead others unless you have first lead yourself, “walk your talk” and can act with integrity.
3. SENSE OF CONTEXT
Conscious Businesses are acutely aware of the context in which they work– combining a sense of both big history (appreciating where we are in time) with an acute sense of place (sensitive to the unique geography, history and cultural of the place in which they conduct business).
Conscious Businesses will have engaged all its personnel in identifying and aligning behind a purpose higher than simply making money in order to experience a deep sense of meaning and fulfillment. They will have answered the question “why are we here?” and examined both personally and corporately their inner sources of inspiration, motivation and fulfillment.
Companies that CARE don’t just care for their own people and their customers but the natural world that supports all life. They have moved beyond sustainability (as in do no harm) to taking a truly regenerative approach that focuses on ensuring all stakeholders flourish.
9. EXERCISE POWER DIFFERENTLY
Conscious Businesses are not content simply to adapt to change but to actively create the conditions for better futures to emerge. They have mastered how to use “new power” that is understood to be a current (an energy that must flow freely) versus a currency (a “thing” that must be hoarded) They take responsibility for the communities their business affects and choose to become inspiring, positive agents for change.
2. ADOPT A HOLISTIC INTEGRAL APPROACH
They are developing a capacity to see wholes, patterns and relationships that enables them to look at a situation from multiple perspectives and work with those whose worldview may differ from their own. They prioritize relationships and nurture a spirit of community based on shared values and purpose.
Conscious business leaders demonstrate a healthy capacity to appreciate the lenses they wear to filter perception (i.e. their assumptions, beliefs, values strengths and weaknesses) and are capable of modifying those lenses at will in order to better understand another perspective. They acknowledge humans possess multiple forms of intelligence and aspire to integrate and develop as many as possible.
6. CREATE CARING CULTURES
Conscious Business leaders know that perhaps the most important task is to create and nurture a culture in which their employees can develop and grow by bringing their whole selves to work and are able to contribute effectively to the flourishing of the company. Conscious companies really do CARE – they live from an understanding of our Connectedness; Actively listen and observe and respect the views of others; believe that Relationships matter more than outcomes and practice Empathy – the ability to step into another’s shoes.
8. CONSCIOUS LEADERSHIP
Conscious Leaders differ from traditional heroic, command and control leaders in their commitment to inspire, serve, and nourish their followers, enabling them to assume leadership responsibilities as appropriate to the situation. They recognize that leadership is first about “being” (expressing character and values); then “knowing” having the technical competence balanced with personal maturity and wisdom gained from self-reflection and self-mastery; and then doing – inspiring, influencing, coaching, deciding etc. As a consequence, conscious companies experience internal coherence and alignment that shows up as integrity and authenticity.
10. OUTPERFORM THEIR PEERS
Conscious Businesses outperform their peers – their employees are more passionate and engaged and therefore more creative; their customers, along with the residents in the neighbourhoods where the business is based become their best source of marketing; it is easier to attract and retain the talent and financial capital needed to grow the business; and a workforce fully aligned with the company mission is better able to withstand unexpected external shocks.