The Art & Practice of Conscious Leadership

January 2022 

All of the leaders who I consider conscious have some sort of personal practice, sometimes called a “spiritual practice,” which keeps them fit, more conscious and aware when it comes to managing their egos, and staying awake most of the time. Naturally they meander from one state of consciousness to another* as we all do, but their practice minimizes these excursions and allows them to spend a greater portion of their time more fully aware than less.

    [Left: the practice, context, the who; right: the art, content, the what]                                                                                   


The practice aspect of conscious leadership is given less attention in much of our society which is prone to valuing technique and form more than the “softer” stuff of consciousness. You might say we value the “art” of leadership – the “how to do it” side – more than the “practice” of conscious leadership – the “who is doing it” side. 

The art realm of conscious leadership could also be described as the content realm, which includes form, technique, methods, anecdotes, examples, narrative and other bits essential to being competent at teaching leadership, coaching or consulting leaders, or starting or leading an organization. This is the what of conscious leadership.

In contrast, the practice of conscious leadership can be described as the context realm, the container of all this content, the crucible, the embodiment, the who-is-doing-the-leading realm. Who is the unique self from which all this leading is coming? This is the consciousness piece. This is the who of conscious leadership. 

Whether you call these realms art and practice, the who and the how, being or doing, or context and content, conscious leaders require continuing inspiration for both. They seek to improve their art – much as did the European artisans who formed guilds in the 12th through 15th centuries – to become better skilled and informed as “artists.” And they also seek to be stretched in their consciousness, to be better acquainted with who they are at a very essential level – to discover and embody their unique selves.  

Practices can be as numerous as there are practitioners. There is no perfect practice for everyone. Each of us is unique. Thus people find and apply whichever practice works for their unique selves. Most practices have some meditative component, many have a discipline element, and silence is a common piece.

For those of us who have conscious leadership as the center of our work – whether entrepreneurs, executives, consultants/executive coaches or academics – let us offer tracks for both of these realms when we plan retreats or other programs. Doing this provides for participants having opportunities to grow in both skill and awareness, to learn more about themselves as unique selves as well as how to be better at leading, teaching or consulting. 

*see my 2016 article “Navigating the States of Consciousness

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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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