In my recent Conscious Leadership in Action conversation with Karen Wilhelm Buckley, we explored how leaders can cultivate commitment with wise leadership. During our conversation, Karen said that unless we are grounded and centered in what matters most, our leadership is not employed with as much veracity, as much strength, or as much power.
Aligning with the title of the book, The Inner Journey to Conscious Leadership, Karen suggested that it’s constantly an inner journey, and then it’s constantly an outer journey as well. If we’re only inward, then we’re probably up in a cave, being a monk. If we’re only outward, then we’re always interacting with the world and there is not the maturity that comes from the inner work. The capacity to integrate our experience and our knowledge with our conscious awareness is really key to the capacity to be consciously a leader and to be conscious in our leadership.
This commitment can’t just be random or superficial. That would be more in the realm of possibility, or even a preference. We’re full of possibilities and preferences even within our leadership and management processes. A preference might be, “I’d really love this new product to work.” That’s great, but it’s a very different place to stand than when I am absolutely committed to this new product working and that if it doesn’t work, I’m even more committed to the satisfaction of the customer. If that customer is satisfied, then I know my core commitment to the product is lined up with the purpose it is to fulfill. But if the customer is not satisfied, then I can come back and consciously notice that I have a commitment that isn’t reaching the objective I intended, I can renegotiate that agreement with myself and with the others that are involved and, form or cultivate the next level of commitment. In order to move into concerted action, it’s got to be more than just yourself. There’s always stakeholders, there’s always impact, and unforeseen and foreseen consequences that come out of every commitment.
When commitment is paired with wisdom, there’s an awareness of the limits of the reliability of our own knowledge. So I might commit to the success of my company or my team, but if I’m consciously aware that there are limits to my own knowledge, then I’m wiser rather than bullheaded about the commitment. The second part is that the wisdom comes when we’re aware of the inherent dilemmas that come within acting on any commitment. There’s always negative polarities. There’s two choices to make that don’t necessarily seem to go together. We need the ability to be aware of those dilemmas, aware of the ill-structured problems and messes that we’re dealing with that are much more complex than we can possibly come to understand. That awareness is wisdom.
We cultivate commitment from the inside out. Yet commitment in itself is not enough. We have bring in wisdom before we take action. Cultivate the commitment paired with wisdom, and then take the responsible action that delivers the desired results.
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