Conscious Leadership is powered by love

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- By Stephane Leblanc

Last summer, I visited an exposition called Revolution this week at the Museum of fine arts in Montreal It was an exposition on the late 60's and early 70's era, the peace and love movement and the age of aquarius. and as I was watching a video of the Woodstock music festival, being absorbed in all the love present, I said to myself, where as all this love gone? What happened to all these baby boomers that were promoting love and not war? Why do we now live in a modern society where fear is so omnipresent?

After all, most of the large businesses today are led by baby boomers that lived in that era. Why do we now live in a society that is mostly focused on ego and fear? Why are so many leaders focused on what is good for them and not so much on others, society and humanity? Why is the human race the only species on our planet that is destroying its own habitat and so many other species.

It is said that there are enough wealth and food in the world to feed every single human, yet so many people around the world die of hunger.

It is also said the richest 1% of the population owns half the world wealth. Why do some people need to be so wealthy? Why do they need so many material possessions?Why is it ok to let so many people die of hunger while some people buy yet another large home, boat, plane or sports team? Why is it acceptable for a CEO to fire thousands of employees to raise the share price and maximize his own wealth?  Why is it acceptable for the average CEO pay in the US to be 300 times the average worker?  Why are most business leaders pursuing extreme competition instead of cooperation?

As I learned from Richard Barrett, all this is a matter of the level of consciousness of the leaders. That the level of consciousness of an organization is a direct reflection of the consciousness of the most senior leaders and that shift of this consciousness in every leader and every organization will be powered by love. I know very well that love is not a word commonly used in business and i believe that love is essential to Conscious Leadership.  It is said that we cannot love others more than we love ourselves.  Self love is then essential, then love for live, love fo the organization mission, its employees, clients, community.

Carl Jung, said there are only two basic emotions, love and fear.  As a leader, you are either leading with love or fear and in my experience in business, I have observed that most leaders lead with fear. because they have not transcended the fears of their own ego.

When you love others, you will not voluntary hurt others.  Yet why do so many people create organizational cultures driven by fear, where employees are not allowed to be humans.  Where many leaders will do anything to please shareholders even if creates negative effects on employees or clients.  They act like making a few cents per share more in one quarter was a matter of life an death. 

It occurs to us that some senior leaders do not have enough respect for fellow human beings and they hide behind the pressure form the stock market to take actions that really benefit their own ego and their own pocket.

I worked for a large international manufacturing company for a long time and I left a few years ago as my values were no longer aligned with the company. It was such a great company for a long time with great values and a great corporate culture where employees thrived and customers were loyal. There was a lot of love present in the company. Love for the products, love for the people and love for the customers.

A few years later, due to financial challenges, the company culture was completely altered when the senior leaders only focused on the financial results. The common language in the company was one of survival.  There was no longer any room tolerance for the common failures that come for innovation.  The many financial controls that were put in place prevented any creativity.  The most senior leaders and the owners were clearly driven by their ego and they instilled a culture of fear which was amplified by the many thousands of layoffs. This had a significant impact on employee engagement and performance and it is not surprising that the company is struggling financially as reflected by the stock price which is at the same level as it was 15 years ago.

So one could ask how such a culture is really serving the shareholders. This focus on ego and fear is a direct reflection of the level of consciousness of the most senior leaders and it is my humble opinion that the company financial results will not improve significantly until the leaders do what is required to raise their own level of consciousness and create a corporate culture where love is present again and where there is less fear. Until they shift their focus from them to others, they will most probably not achieve the financial results they so desire. 

A company's soul is reflected in the values and vision of the leaders. Not only in what gets written on a poster, but what is lived concretely every day. It is surprising that a board of director that is tasked to look at the big picture and ensure that all stakeholders needs are met would allow a CEO to lead a company with such fear.

Maybe this proves the point that for many companies the only stakeholder that is important is the shareholders. But what about the responsibility that an organization and its leaders have to create good for the world.

Some conscious leaders get it. They have understood that their mission is much bigger than just maximizing shareholders value. Most achieve extraordinary results because of it.

A good example is Guy Cormier, the CEO of Desjardins, a large cooperative based financial institution based in Quebec who has a mission to contribute to improving the economic and social well-being of people and communities and whose vision is to inspire trust around the world through the commitment of its people, its financial strength and its contribution to sustainable prosperity.

Another good example is Eric Martel, the CEO of Hydro Quebec who is completely transforming the culture of his organization to be customer focused and employee focused. The first thing Eric did when he came in position is to organize a monthly meeting with his 1500 leaders to ensure all the leaders work as a community and he put in place a plan to significantly improve the customer experience. Eric totally understands his mission to create good for the Quebec community and he is putting all his passion to work towards this. This level of consciousness has translated in a remarkable improvement of all performance indicators, including the customer satisfaction and the financial performance.

Another example is Yvon Charest, the CEO of Industrielle Alliance. Yvon is leading by example and is developing his leaders by elevating their consciousness so they can become conscious leaders and  care for for their people, clients and community. He has presence, is humble and is focused on the well being of his employees, his clients and his community. This consciousness has translated into a fantastic financial performance for his organization.

We need a lot more senior leaders to make this shift towards conscious leadership.

We clearly need a conscious leadership revolution and this revolution will be powered by love.

if you are ready to become a Conscious Leader, join us at the Global Summit of Conscious Leadership on March 14th in Montreal.