“Opportunities to find deeper powers within us come when life seems most challenging”
The recent times have called for unfathomable transformations everywhere in context of work spaces. The changes that these unforeseen circumstances have brought within each one of us is remarkable. Our workplaces have dynamically shifted. We were forced to adapt to technology in a completely new perspective; which would have otherwise not come into implementation for perhaps a couple of more years. The concept of physical spaces has no longer confined employees; as homes have become multi-purpose; and new niche areas developed within them, defining a workspace. The challenge also has been a mammoth one in terms of balancing professionalism in a personal space whilst upholding the unsaid work ethics and expectations. With the intrusion and impingement, it has caused in our lives, getting mentally drained is no surprise.
Working from home (WFH) has developed as a new model of association between businesses and employees, and thus the “new normal”. A wide scope has emerged for people who could not work earlier due to being constrained at home owing to critical responsibilities. Just imagine a person unable to work as they needed to be physically in the vicinity of an ailing parent; the lockdown has made space for the same. Although not immediately as we see economies battling with a shock and a recession, the future however does stand bright. Lockdown has been extending periodically for the past couple of months, which is almost turning into a year now. Innovation and creativity have emerged in all areas related to maintaining productivity and effectiveness in organizations. Leaders have globally designed and come up with a new class of solutions that have evolved leadership to a new high. A new leadership style has emerged that amalgamates the thinking hats of Edward De Bono and the principles of Fayol & Taylor with humanity & the essence of cultivating and nurturing human assets- conscious leadership.
With the virtual world becoming the new area of interaction, the challenges have been multifold. Take a minute to reflect how fun (sarcasm intended) it has been integrating howling & yelling kids, disgruntled spouses, unattended family, and the philosophies of ancient scriptures like Mahabharata and Ramayana or telly-dramas playing in the background with virtual conferences, meetings and client calls. I am sure no one will discount the added work pressures with disappearance of household help& aids. Conscious Leadership has played a very important role in adapting to the current circumstances and the same is known to each one of us. Our bosses have shared the dilemmas and understood our strifes, while walking hand in hand at maintaining the work pressures that had multiplied. Adapting to the new changes would not have been possible without conscious leaders prominently being the torchbearers.
The Teams who had insensitive and contrary styled leaders as bosses, became more disgruntled and stressed.
The leaders at all the levels, had multifold responsibilities and pressures as they had to bridge the gap and rise to the demands of the pandemic. They managed employee’s morale and productivity, ensured effectiveness in solutions designed as well as delivered on the organizational parameters of bringing in business and sustaining. Conscious leadership that emerged from the adversities and has delivered unparalleled results for the persons holding such posts and assuming such positions. Maintaining the morale of the team and effectively supporting human assets has been the challenge by far, as there have been massive layoffs and restructuring in some of the Organizations. The forward looking organizations who could sustain, had seen restructuring and transformation in varied plans and pathways, with goals being revised and new targets and milestones set to be achieved. Survival became the new mantra. Staying afloat became the new destination. We see the paradigm shift in the leadership approach altogether. A conscious leadership approach has gained more importance than ever before. Apart from the business numbers, being considerate with human assets has assumed a greater importance.
It is important that you as a leader – no matter at which ever level you are, become more conscious and more resilient & agile to the entire situation. The chaos, confusions and dilemmas caused by the pandemic have added largely to negativity all around. Conscious leaders are being seen to screen themselves and shield their employees from the prevalent negativity and pessimism. The display of inner resilience, serenity and indominable will power has been endearing to watch. Irrespective of the style of leadership that works for you (autocratic, democratic or a laisse-faire etc.) there are certain notable key characteristics and personality traits that have been identified towards conscious leaders. Basis my observations, I believe that the Characteristics or so to say the qualities of a “Conscious Leadership style stems from the very word “conscious” which also summarizes it wholly as under:
C- caring.demonstrating a caring approach in sensitive times is critical to well-being. Catering to the varied needs of the team whilst paying specified focus on the emotional requirements and support for employees has been a key differentiator.
O- Open to listening. Ranging from concerns to ideas that the employees may contribute to, having flexibility in work approach, integrating new things, the new normal and the situation overall. Listening had been an important trait, however listening empathetically gained renewed importance.
N – Nice, Noble, Natural. The aspects of being nice and noble in a natural and effortless way was the endearing display of true fortitude. Being sensitive is not a task assigned or a benchmark, it is a basic unit of humane behavior that a conscious leader exhibits at the core.
S- Soft hearted. Softness does not imply being weak or only considering the emotional aspects of human resources. It seeks to stand as being empathetic and providing smart solutions to the constraints that the team may face, as well as preempting the issues that may exist and providing solace for the same. Sometimes, a pat on the back or an encouraging word is all we need to elevate a morale. Times have been difficult, and losses have been personal, the softness and cushioning is thus like an unsaid mandate.
C- Concerned, compassionate and courageous. Being concerned about the mental well-being of employees and exhibiting compassion towards those needs. This approach does call for being courageous to incorporate unprecedented decisions, like work from home, and restructuring targets that was earlier never in consideration but now have been directly implemented and adapted to; rather forced on us.
I-Inclusive & Innovative – in finding different ideas and solutions to the existing challenges. Inclusion being extended to the families and their needs and innovations are demonstrated in finding win-win solutions for all.
O- Optimistic & opportunistic – figuring out opportunities to get the highest results has always been a key focal point. The pandemic forced leaders to incorporate optimism and positivity in their way of being and being solution oriented. While the loss has been similar, and the circumstances identical, conscious leaders have been finding and creating opportunities and turning things around.
U – Understanding & unbiased – although being understanding and unbiased has always been in implementation; the current times have called for them becoming a way of life. We were in the same rut, with some being more stuck than the others. This brought about an expansion in horizons and an open thought process breaking free from narrow mindsets.
S – Serene – to maneuver the situation, the leader has to be serene and calm. Boils down to how calmly one handles the situation.Laughing in the face of danger while ensuring that being brave does not mean we went looking for trouble, was a difficult equilibrium to achieve.
To conclude, I would like to express that conscious leadership is the futuristic evolution of leadership approach globally. While I strongly hope that the world quickly free’s up from the clutches of this deadly pandemic, I look forward to seeing more and more leaders synergizing this new approach with their unique styles of leadership to create a better work environment and valuing humans and humanity at large.