The Identity Circle Newsletter                                       Issue Nine | December 2010

Are you a "conscious" leader? (And does
it matter?)

We live in a time of purpose-driven companies and purpose-driven lives. One of the groups that promote the power of purpose is the Conscious Capitalism Institute (CCI). It counts among its prime movers and shakers John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods and Doug Rauch, former President at Trader Joe's and Fellow at Harvard's Advanced Leadership Initiative. As someone who knows how powerful purpose can be when it is authentically derived (read: innate identity), I'm a fan.

Recently, I came across an article about Countrywide Financial's co-founder Angelo Mozilo, who agreed to a $67.5 million settlement to avoid trial on civil fraud and insider trading charges that alleged he profited from doling out risky mortgages while misleading investors about the risks. The contrast between the tenets of conscious capitalism and Mozilo are striking. To say the least, these two forces of nature are coming from different places.

This experience led me to ask myself a question: How can you have a conscious company, if it's not populated with conscious people? Conscious capitalism depends entirely on having conscious individuals in positions of leadership. There are no shortcuts: Emotionally stirring purpose statements aren't enough. Policies aimed at sustainability aren't necessarily sustainable. Compelling values without compelling people are subject to failure. So, where does conscious capitalism begin? It begins with us; in particular, with those folks who are leaders today, or who aspire to lead, tomorrow. Is that you?

The Identity Connection
Conscious. According to Webster's, being "conscious" refers to being self-aware and having self-knowledge, being mindful and intentional, being awake and connected to one's self. It seems that living in this awakened state is
naturally what leads us to do the right thing, operate with integrity, and create something of distinct value in the world. Sounds like the makings of a strong personal identity, to me.

How might executives like Angelo Mozilo find that inner identity zone? Is it even possible? Probably not. Nor is it worth stewing about. What's worth spending time on is learning what the qualities of a strong identity are and then exercising them, like so many muscles, in the name of personal -- and indeed -- business growth.

Where does identity strength come from?
You may recall from past newsletters that The Identity Circle recently released the results of a quantitative study demonstrating the power of identity strength as a driver of employee engagement and business performance.

What the research further revealed was that identity strength comes from 8 distinct attributes. When these attributes are fully present, you're on a leadership roll. When they aren't, or they are only partially present, you might as well be behind the leadership Eight Ball.

These 8 attributes, or building blocks, are: autonomy, differentiation, change, stewardship, potential, alignment, brand and sustainability. And here's the most intriguing fact: These 8 attributes are the same for your organization as they are to you.

What if I'm not a leader?
If, by "leader," you mean you don't have a lot of people reporting to you, don't worry about it. That's not where leadership starts. It starts in the mirror. It starts by leading yourself with the same determination, mindfulness and intentionality -- i.e., consciousness -- it takes to successfully lead others. To put it rhetorically, how can you lead others, if you don't know who you are?

Was Angelo Mozilo a leader? Sure, insofar as he was CEO and the default boss of many. But he certainly wasn't a conscious leader and that may well have contributed to his ultimate demise.

So, does it matter if you're a conscious leader? Absolutely, if you want people to invest the energy that comes from following you by choice, rather than by dictate. Whether you're leading a team, an organization, your family, or just yourself, get conscious about it. Everyone will win.

Got a view on conscious leadership, or the 8 attributes of identity strength? Post your thoughts at www.theidentitycircle.com/blog. 


Lead on!

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Increasingly, people are looking for leaders they can trust in their hearts, not just their heads. And there aren't too many of them around these days. Here's an article entitled Crack Your Identity Code, that provides an overview of how you can discern your own identity -- and, then, use it to shape a life and leadership style that becomes a magnet for likeminded people.

Larry Ackerman 2

Larry Ackerman
Founder and President
The Identity Circle LLC 

"Emotionally stirring purpose statements aren't enough. Policies aimed at sustainability aren't necessarily sustainable. Compelling values without compelling people are subject to failure."

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