Leading as Love: Conscious Leadership from the Heart

April 2015

Sometime last year I was in an exchange with leadership strategist Lucira Jane Nebelung and realized that she was doing business as “Leading as Love,” which she defines as “a global movement for leaders in business, government, education and religion to stand for the dignity and well-being of everyone, establish common ground, and serve the greatest good for humanity and life through care, understanding, respect and responsiveness.”

Nebelung is a fellow faculty member of the Center for Leadership Studies (CLS) which created and delivers the program known as Masters of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MAOL) through Connecticut-based The Graduate Institute.  I cannot recall ever meeting her face-to-face but we have several friends in common, including Judi Neal, with whom I co-created the annual Spirit at Work Awards in 2002; Mel Toomey, founder of CLS and principal  designer of MAOL; and Bud Stone who created The Graduate Institute and still serves as Chancellor.

In all my writing about conscious leadership over many years I have not stressed the need to be coming from the heart as much as I might have. To be a conscious leader one must have a love for all of humanity and “commit to take full responsibility for the world we create” as Nebelung so skillfully puts it. This reminds me of the Dalai Lama quote we use in our FutureShapers curriculum (see slide below):

Dalia Lama

“Universal responsibility” – the only “sane choice” His Holiness refers to here – comes with a maturity and a love that transcends agape love or eros. It is more like the “philia” love that Sister Ilia Delio writes about in The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: “Philia is love expressed in communal life or life together….it may be the most cosmic of love because it is based on mutuality, reciprocity, and cooperation – with the purpose of promoting…well-being by cooperating with others….It is not simply the promotion of well-being but the deepening of being itself….it undergirds and complements the rise of consciousness.”

Thanks to Nebelung, I will make love more explicit in my writings and teachings of conscious leadership. After all, as Jesuit paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote years ago, love is a “cosmological force” and we can hardly ignore such a force as we explore becoming a more conscious, more mature species – the central theme of my latest book – The Great Growing Up.

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John Renesch

John is a seasoned businessman-turned-futurist who has published 14 books and hundreds of articles on social and organizational transformation.

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