Becoming a Conscious Leader
by Gina Hayden
Published by Panacea Books, 2017
This is a big book but don’t be put off. I read it in bits rather than aiming to read it straight through, and it is worth finishing as the last chapter has some particularly useful guidance in it. Gina Hayden puts forward a strong argument for conscious leadership, which she defines clearly and provides interesting role models and examples for the reader. I think it will be of great value to many, including those starting out on the entrepreneurial route and those who are already business leaders thinking, ‘Is this really how I want to spend my working life?’
The book sets out a vision of possibility – a different way to operate and lead – which has a higher purpose than the bottom line and which sets the boundaries far wider. She brings together theories and thinking of others who are also exploring how to support leaders in this endeavour. While she gives some good examples of where this works, for many of us, we would be fighting against an established culture – however reading this book and knowing others have done it supports any such struggle.
There is still a question for me: ‘How do I become a conscious leader?’ The call to conscious leadership, Gina Hayden implies, is often through major life events or through a deep dissatisfaction with how things are. It is a deep journey into ourselves. Many of the case examples had a life-changing event which led to life renewal. Moving into conscious leadership needs commitment to the personal work needed. There is no easy way to bring our conscious self into being and into business. Being fully conscious or awake as Gina Hayden says, is essential for making healthy choices for which we take full responsibility. There are all kinds of barriers though –both internal and external – to work our way through on our way to conscious leadership. This book is a useful support to that process.
The final chapter brings it all together with a series of question prompts. These include: What is your catalyst?, choosing hope, ask deep questions, decide on the impact you want to make, and jump in. ‘Consciousness is not a means to an end, it is an end in itself’ says Gina quoting, Sudhakar Ram. It is worth taking a slow journey through the book. It’s not to be rushed, as there is a lot on offer and then to reflect on.
Julia Vaughan Smith, Executive and Leadership Coach and Organisational Consultant, and author of Therapist to Coach, published by OU Press.