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How To Transform The Next Generation Into Conscious Leaders

By Kyle Danner

“...Conscious leaders view themselves as trustees of the business, seeking to nurture and safeguard it for future generations, not to exploit it for the short-term gains of themselves or current stakeholders.”  

- Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business, p. 179

Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business is the manifesto, if you will, of the Conscious Capitalism movement. And this quote, believe it or not, speaks directly to your family business.

This IS family business. You may have seen a statistic floating around that only 30% of family businesses make it to the second generation. There are a lot of caveats to that figure, but it shows the challenge of stewardship and the caretaking needed to build a business that can be passed onto the next generation.

For a business to survive, family or otherwise, a new generation of leaders must be developed. Conscious Capitalism is the ideal foundation on which to mentor and coach this new generation. Its strategies for developing a higher purpose and values align so well with the next generation’s desire for socially responsible, equitable businesses that do good while making money.




What Are The Characteristics Of A Conscious Leader?

What does it mean to be a conscious leader? It means just what you think: being a leader who is conscious. Awake. Aware. Actively engaging with the world around you. It’s something all of us want to be, but it’s not an easy thing to become. Our natural predisposition, our biological preference as humans, is routine. It’s to go with the flow.

But we have the capacity to do more, and Conscious Capitalism provides a framework to develop leaders for this new approach to business.

Conscious leadership isn’t a one-size-fits-all model. We’re talking about human beings working together, after all. For the most part, however, these are qualities that conscious leaders show:

  • Authenticity
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Spiritual intelligence
  • Systems intelligence

The first of these characteristics starts with you. Conscious leaders are authentic. They know their higher purpose — their True North, as it were. Authenticity sounds warm and fuzzy, but it requires that you take a hard look at yourself. To do this, ask yourself if you are following your passion. Then, align your values with your actions. With your actions, you can build a better world not just of yourself but for everyone else as well.

Conscious leaders also use their emotional intelligence. Like it or not, we are emotional creatures. Learning how not to let our emotions get the better of us is essential. It’s one of the things I wish I had more of working in the family business. Emotional intelligence means using empathy to appreciate other stakeholders. We can’t hide behind spreadsheets and financial statements and ignore the human element of what we do in business.

Spiritual intelligence is another aspect of a Conscious Leader. Spiritual intelligence is your ability to put your values and your purpose into action. You can’t park them at your office door. As a leader, you need to work them into the higher purpose of your business. Spiritual intelligence includes your moral judgment and allows you to discern right from wrong when making tough business decisions.

Then there’s systems intelligence, which is seeing the bigger picture and appreciating how things are interconnected and interdependent between all the stakeholders. When you understand the interdependency of things, you’re in a better position to prevent problems before they arise.

There are other qualities to conscious leaders, but you get the idea. This steadfastness and thoughtful action grounded in higher purpose allow you, and ultimately your business, to remain calm and focused throughout the storms of downturns or upheavals in the market.

How To Transform The Next Generation Into Conscious Leaders

With conscious leaders at the helm who mentor and develop the team members they serve, you increase the odds of a business surviving for the long term. For the family business, that means beating that 30% statistic I mentioned earlier.

To put it another way, better leaders = a better world. And who doesn’t want to live in a better world?

So how do you train The Next Generation to become Conscious Leaders? Start with the very first characteristic: authenticity. If the future leaders don’t have a vision for their future or don’t know what their passion is, the other traits don’t matter.

To identify and clarify a personal vision for the future, download my free Ideal Life ebook. This book includes exercises, worksheets, and more helpful materials to help the Next Generation identify what they want to do and where they want to be. It’s not always an easy task, but it’s perhaps the most beneficial thing you can ever do for yourself.

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