Summer 2023 Newsletter
Our Summer newsletter focuses on presence – and the role of compassion as an essential companion to developing ourselves as conscious leaders.
Welcome to our summer newsletter, the first since we announced our rebranding to the ea consultancy. It has been a very busy time for us, as we also relaunched our website and announced our new Group Coaching programme.
If you haven’t visited the new website yet it’s at theeaconsultancy.com. There you will find details of our services, latest blogs valuable resources to inspire your conscious leadership journey.
Also featured on the website are details of our new Group Coaching program. ‘The Conscious Leader a Ten Step Learning Journey‘ which is designed to equip you with the essential skills and insights to drive positive change, foster inclusivity, and maximize your potential. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for an application pack, programme details and dates.
Developing Conscious Leadership through Presence and Compassion
The COVID pandemic required a rapid, global shift to the way we work and live. This in turn generated many other changes, some positive, such as the development of hybrid and flexible working practices. Other changes have been more challenging, notably the increase in workload and decrease of resources available to meet demand. This is a phenomenon we have seen and heard about from clients, colleagues, family members and friends working within all sectors: Public, Private and Charities. This in turn has intensified the pace of work and reduced spaces for reflecting, dreaming and deeper connection with ourselves and others. Add into the mix the deteriorating economic situation, and you have a challenging combination of factors affecting our workplaces and individuals’ prospects.
COVID also shone a light on existing health (and other) inequities, with its disproportionate impact across intersections of geographical location, gender, ‘race’, ethnicity, Disability, age, sexual orientation and other lived realities: an uneven playing field that continues to reward some and penalise others in every aspect of life. In a resurgence of the decades’ long global consciousness raising social and environmental justice movements we hear an urgent call for all those who want to make a positive difference to wake up and step boldly into conscious leadership. When we have the courage to resist the increasingly frenetic pace of work to be still with ourselves, observe truthfully what is happening around and in us and compassionately abide with what emerges, we are on our way.
Martin Kalungu-Banda, leader of the presencing institute, and expert on Theory U, urges leaders to embrace ‘presencing’: the ability to be present in the here and now, whilst tuning into what may be emerging in the future to create movements within themselves, organisations and societies. This practice requires an awareness of and care for the ways in which we are all interconnected. As with all sentient beings’ we humans are not one dimensional and we do not stand still, unchanging. We experience and navigate a complex mixture of advantages and disadvantages in the context of systemic and structural inequities.
These exist in society across intersections of gender, ‘race’/ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, faith and religion and other social identities we hold. They exist globally in the great schisms of wealth and power between richer nations and corporations and the poorer majority. One of our greatest resources as conscious leaders is the ability to deeply connect with the wisdom within ourselves and one another to show up in the world with truthfulness, vulnerability, courage and compassion.
Approaches that locate me – and my capacity to influence change – in the context of these greater systems and realities have helped me to see- and feel – more clearly where my own behaviour habits and biases lie; and how, when left to their own devices, my capacity to enable change is limited by the habits and attachments of the environments in which I am immersed. Noticing this provides a wonderful opportunity to throw off my comfort blanket and tune in to what lies beneath: walking into the fire and feeling fully the prickly, rich vitality of life as I cast aside habit and go with others in search of a better way forward together.
Developing presence – connecting with my raw moment to moment experience- with compassion is therefore a cornerstone of my own conscious leadership practice. It is a lifelong commitment to increasing self-awareness, and the ability to respond with curiosity, humility and compassion to challenging and uncomfortable situations as and when they arise.
Wherever you are, start there. Take a few moments now to pause. What is your next step as a conscious leader? Close your eyes and connect to your senses. What can you feel, hear, taste, touch? Take a few breathes in, and out. Feel the beat of your heart. As best you can bring a sense of warmth and care to this experience. Now gently open your eyes and take another moment- what are you noticing?
This practice of sitting with this moment, and then the next, can be deeply challenging. Developing a sense of compassion for ourselves supports this process of showing up courage and wisdom as conscious leaders for collective liberation.
Further reading – Take a moment or two
Unlocking the Power of Presencing
Four inspiring leadership lessons from Martin Kalungu-Banda and Salem Samhoud. Leaders have the power to transform themselves, organisations and societies by embracing ‘presencing’, the ability of being present in the here and now and at the same time listening to what may emerge in the future. Read the full blog post
- Presencing is vital for leaders
- Practice the transformational power of silence
- Listen with an open mind, open heart and open will
- Nurture Truth-Tellers and Ubuntu
What is compassionate leadership?
How do compassionate leaders behave? They empathise with their colleagues and seek to understand the challenges they face; they are committed to supporting others.
For leadership to be compassionate, it must also be inclusive. Compassion blurs the boundaries between self and other, promoting belonging, trust, understanding, mutual support and, by definition, inclusion (West 2021). Read the full report
If you aspire to be a great leader, be present
In this post from hbr.org the authors look at how doing less can be more! And how research suggests that there is a direct correlation between leaders’ mindfulness and the well-being and performance of their people. In other words, the more a leader is present with their people, the better they will perform. Read more
Become a fully present Leader and Human
Ultimately, our lives as leaders, our relationships with others and our team dynamics will become more authentic, trust-based and collaborative if we are more consciously connected and aware, and actually take care of our intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical selves.
In this article from forbes.com explores the how four elements come together to form the fully present leader – the four selves.
Leadership is not Art
Successful conscious leaders live and lead in the now. The only real time is now. This does not mean that we do not learn from the mistakes of the past or that we do not plan for the future. Successful leaders are finishers. They see their goal just in front of them and this motivates them to finish faster than those guided only by lofty, and perhaps foggy, long term objectives and ideas. This thought is explored in this post by Enrique Opi.
Sometimes you have to Go Slow
The more unpredictable and volatile our world becomes, the more we are drawn to doing. Of course we need to do things, especially when we lead a business or a team. We have to get stuff done because often, we’re it. At times, there’s no one we can delegate to.
While that is all true, sometimes, this tendency to do more, louder, faster, isn’t effective. Sometimes, we have to go slow. Read more
Mindfulness for Business Leaders
An introductory 10 day silent meditation course, for business, organisational executives at Vipassana. It has many benefits for those determined to pursue the truth through their own efforts and to lead a happier life which is good for them and good for others.
Note from Razia, the ea co-Director: I share my personal experience, this teaching is genuine and impactful. It is non-sectarian and is given at authorised centres only. The Trust exists only to educate people in meditation techniques that have been passed down generations since the Buddha. There is no religious element and does not require any religious adherence.
It is a serious and often challenging undertaking and may not be suitable for everyone. Payment afterwards is strictly by donation only, no fees are payable up front. All teachers and centre staff are volunteers.
Finally, Take Three Conscious Breaths
Pema Chödrön teaches pause practice, a simple technique we can use anytime we need a break from our habitual patterns. Our habits are strong, so discipline is required to step outside our cocoon and receive the magic of our surroundings. Pause practice – taking three conscious breaths at any moment when we notice that we are stuck – is a simple but powerful practice that each of us can do at any given moment.
When you are washing up, or making your coffee or tea, or brushing your teeth, just create a gap in your discursive mind. When you are waking up in the morning and you aren’t even out of bed yet, even if you are running late, you could just look out and drop the story line and take three conscious breaths. Just be where you are! Take three conscious breaths. Just pause.