Conscious Leadership Exists Above the Line and at the Bottom of the U

Posted on November 17, 2016

In order to stay ahead of the curve and be relevant in a future that delivers the unexpected and unpredictable, we need conscious leadership. This leadership style requires leaders to be curious, present and responsive to what is happening around them. Conscious leaders have their awareness placed on the pulse points of change – which can be found ‘above the line’ and at the bottom of the ‘U’lets look.

Leaders who place their awareness ‘above the line’ demonstrate growth mindsets. Carol Dweck, author of ‘Mindset. The New Psychology of Success’ posits that leaders who have a growth mindset can:

  • See Connections
  • Embrace Diversity
  • Are Open to New Ideas
  • Bow to their Mistakes
  • Persevere when they are Frustrated

Thus, Leaders who have above the line thinking clearly see the obstacles ahead, and address them with open eyes. Fundamentally they strongly believe they have what it takes to navigate through situations successfully, and assert that if they fail, they’ll still wake up tomorrow having learned something critical.

This compares to leaders who operate below the line, carrying a fixed mindset. These leaders:

  • Give Up when they get Frustrated
  • Believe their Abilities Determine What They Do
  • Ignore or Deny a Situation is Taking Place

Above the line leaders are much more responsive to what is taking place in the moment. These leaders have curious, open minds and are looking around them carefully for connections and inspiration.

‘Above the Line’ Leaders see themselves and their activities as creative works in progress…
as such, their daringness to learn constantly through experimentation, catalyses the accumulation of innovative ideas and actions to adopt in the face of change.

Conscious Leadership also happens at the bottom of the ‘U’- this curve designed by Otto Scharmer of MIT, provides a framework and a methodology for leading profound change.

At the bottom of the U leaders are ‘presencing. ‘Presencing’ represents an internal state in leaders where they have:

  • An open mind: they are seeing the situation with fresh eyes and listening from outside the world of their preconceived notions.
  • An open heart: they feel connected to and engaged in the wider context of the situation.
  • An open will: they are questioning‘what is the future that wants to emerge?’and “how does that relate to the journey forward?”

Bottom of the U Leaders have a desire to discover
“how can we become part of the story of the future rather than holding on to the story of the past?” 

At the bottom of the U, leaders are contemplating critically on the identity of their organisation and the purpose of its contribution i.e their organisation’s reason d’être.

They are inquiring into how that contribution may be being called to evolve as the world in which the organisation is operating begins to change.

Above the Line Mindsets and Presencing go hand in hand. When leaders are operating above the line, they are then able to access the bottom of the U. Here the conscious leaders are responsive and attentive to what is happening around them, engaging in the present situation with an open mind, heart and will to participate constructively in the changes that are taking place. These conscious leaders are curious to discover ideas that reveal something about the journey their organisation is taking as it evolves into the future and how they are connected to that future story.

In this way conscious leaders stay ahead of the curve by viewing their organisation’s journey as a creative work in progress, artistically assisting the organisation to (in the words of Mary Oliver) “embrace the uncertainty, and be sharpened and honed by it”.

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