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Henley Leadership Group Blog

Can You Answer These Five Big Questions About Your Leadership?


With so much turbulence and uncertainty, there is no better time to remake yourself into a better leader than now.

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that we are living in turbulent times. Previously stable systems and establishments are being disrupted. Entire industries are being transformed by digital technology, deregulation and new competition. But we also know that when things get difficult, new opportunities emerge, and those who are able to sense those possibilities within the challenges will have a huge advantage. That’s why there is no better time than now for you to remake yourself as a conscious leader.

Conscious leaders are intentional, aware, awake, deliberate, thoughtful, growing and evolving. They ask themselves the big questions, like: 

  1. Where do I place my attention? Am I focused on the urgent and trivial or the big ideas like purpose, vision, mission and values?
  2. How do I work with others? Do I leave every person I engage with better as a result of our interaction?
  3. How do I gather information? Is my mind open to new thoughts and ideas?
  4. What is my relationship to well-being? Am I paying equal attention to the health of the organization and to the people in it?
  5. How do I decide and take action? Am I acting from emerging and new information? Is my team innovating and iterating enough?

To support more conscious leadership and a healthy culture where all people thrive, make it a priority to master the following five areas of skill- or habit-building:

Integrated Ideals. Team members often get “heads down” and forget about the broader view. Ideals remind people of the larger picture they are part of. As a leader, it’s your job to integrate ideals like vision, mission, and values into the day-to-day work to help team members remember what they are giving their time and energy to. 

Productive Engagement. Leaders who engage productively with others will gain more respect than those who exude an always-in-command attitude. Collaboration improves markedly when managers have consistently positive and productive interactions with people at all levels and make them feel valued and smart. As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has pointed out, “The energy you create around you is perhaps going to be the most important attribute — in the long run, EQ trumps IQ. Without being a source of energy for others, very little can be accomplished.”

Intellectual Agility. Leaders who maintain intellectual agility exceed what they think is possible. They are open to new ideas from all sources, whether they come from the front lines, customers, suppliers, or the board. Often, the most important ideas that companies must act upon exist at the bottom or the middle of an organization, not at the top. 

Vital Fulfillment. Vital fulfillment creates a culture where employees use their full range of abilities, tapping into their intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual best. Leaders feel they’re being “well-used” instead of “used up.” Leaders who have a full life outside of work and who subjugate personal lives for the corporate good only during critical periods will be much more productive. 

Innovative Action. Embracing innovative action not only helps leaders reduce bureaucracy and hesitation, but it also creates an environment of curiosity and experimenting — of trying new ideas and abandoning those that aren’t working after reasonable effort. Leaders who take innovative action can get people fully engaged and aligned on goals. The result is much faster decision-making and action-taking, and that creates strong, collective momentum. 

Becoming a conscious leader requires a commitment to ongoing learning and a willingness to stretch beyond your comfort zone. And it’s a must for those who want to thrive, in good times and in challenging ones. Master these five areas of your leadership and you will become a more conscious leader.

Previously published on Forbes