Exec Ed Update
Conscious The Power of Awareness in Business and Life By Bob Rosen, Emma-Kate Swann
Published by Wiley, 2018, ISBN: 978-1-119-50844-1
The human condition has always been subject to both evolutionary and violent change. However, the rapid speed of change over the past decades in everything from technology, to geopolitics, to climate, to social mores, has been particularly disruptive. Now with the coming of AI and Industry 4.0 the world seems to be changing faster than our ability to adapt. Adapting to change is difficult. Too often people overreact in a state of perpetual panic, or bury their heads in the sand clinging to the way things were, or react on autopilot with fear and mistrust. The better way of course is to be aware, anticipate change, and leverage it to help improve our personal and our working lives. For sclerotic organizations the failure to be aware and anticipate change can often be fatal. Too many change efforts fail often with short-term results undermining long-term success. “The primary culprit for these maladies is our lack of awareness,” says Bob Rosen and Emma-Kate Swan in ‘Conscious: The Power of Awareness in Business and Life’, suggesting that the genesis of change is consciousness and that “Conscious = Awareness in Action.” Based on the authors’ decades of experience in advising senior executives in organizations around the world, as the founder and the vice president of leadership and transformation at Healthy Companies International , the book is not about delving into the sub-conscious, nor about mindfulness, emotional intelligence, or other practices. Rather it considers the broader aspects of personal outlook and capability needed to be truly conscious, in a world where a lack of consciousness can too often cripple individuals, organizations and governments. The authors quote Mary Barra, the first female CEO of General Motors, facing a US Senate enquiry into a massive safety recall in 2014: “The facts are the facts. We will do what is needed to make things right and we will hold ourselves fully accountable.” This goes to the heart of their message and epitomises conscious leadership – being fully aware of the facts, having the capacity to change, and being accountable. The core of the book looks at what it takes to be conscious and presents a guide in four sections, each based one of the key practices successful leaders invariably follow: Go Deep – Harness introspection to find self-awareness; Think Big – Be curious and adaptive to see a world of possibilities; Get Real – Be honest and intentional and avoid being too safe and cautious; Step Up – Be bold and responsible to achieve your potential and higher purpose. Chapters within each section provide practical advice on how to put these practices to work. E.g. ‘Get Real’ chapters examine how to embrace and manage ‘accelerators’ including: courage; drive; practice; resilience; and vulnerability. And ‘hijackers’ including: self-criticism; cynicism; being too controlling; aloofness; and hypercompetitiveness. While practical the book is also profound, offering a fresh and intensely human approach to living and leading in our fast-changing disruptive times. It emphasises how being conscious helps us think deeper, learn faster, collaborate better, and adapt to create sustainable change for ourself and our organizations.
78 | Developing Leaders Issue 30: 2018
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