How to Be a Conscious Leader

How to Be a Conscious Leader with Dot Connect Founder, Dom Farnan
What does conscious leadership mean to you? Does it mean raising awareness for big, important global issues, like the environment, human rights, or gender equality?

What does conscious leadership mean to you? Does it mean raising awareness for big, important global issues, like the environment, human rights, or gender equality?

Does it mean being a servant leader, someone who isn’t doing things for the sake of their ego but instead for the organization and the team?

Maybe it’s meditating at work, doing yoga in the break room, and drinking green juice.

Conscious leadership is a buzzy term these days, and if you’re struggling to figure out exactly what it is, it’s best to look at an example.

Our own Dom Farnan has been incredibly transparent and open about her journey to conscious leadership. When you witness a transformation — instead of just the results — you get so much more insight, not to mention inspiration to work on yourself.

At DotConnect, conscious leadership means so many things. It means cultivating a culture of transparency so we can share our human side instead of just a mask we wear to work, encouraging personal development and actively dedicating time to it on the job, and taking responsibility for emotions and behaviors instead of projecting them onto others.

Above all, it’s a journey that’s not perfect. It’s sometimes messy, but it’s a path towards self-acceptance, responsibility, and integrity — and that’s a beautiful thing.

Want to learn more? Stick around to see exactly how to be a conscious leader.

Recognizing Masculine and Feminine Energy at Work

Before we look at what conscious leadership is, let’s look at a concept that’s been receiving a lot of attention lately in the wellness world: masculine and feminine energy.
This balance of polarities is key to having a healthy and happy workplace.

It’s important to know that masculine and feminine energy does not refer to gender. According to Dom and many spiritual teachers, we all have both aspects within us. Some of us will lean more towards one side or the other, and that can change according to our natural inclinations, our setting, or the stage of life we’re in.

Organizations and cultures also have masculine or feminine energy. It’s pretty clear that in many ways, masculine energy dominates most organizations and cultures. But in fact, organizations and cultures could also embody both.

“Think of masculine and feminine energy as two wings on your back. Your feminine wing or divine feminine energetic qualities are things like intuition, ideas, creativity, [being nurturing], having awareness, having peace, being graceful, being a listener, being compassionate and being caring. And then on the masculine side, there are divine masculine qualities like courage, confidence, strength, being disciplined, focused, accountable, loyal, and taking action.”

Most corporate settings have a decidedly masculine feel to them. They also tend to value masculine qualities and measure success based on them. This means some women have to contort themselves to fitting in, thereby giving up some of who they are in the process (men do this too, by the way).

“I was more in my masculine. I had a very rigid energy. I work with a lot of men in technology, so I always felt like I had to prove myself and be tough and be direct and not always do what felt natural to me. But at home, I'm a mother, I'm a partner, I'm a sister, I'm a friend, I'm all of these other things that bring out a more feminine aspect of my energy.”

If you ever feel like you don’t fit in, or where you work feels like a “boys club,” remember, men and women can embody both masculine and feminine qualities. 

Unbalanced Masculine and Feminine Energy at Work

There are a number of ways workplaces can become toxic. A culture that values masculine traits (even the positive ones) can still be unhealthy because it’s not balanced with feminine qualities. Someone who lives more in their feminine energy (whether man or woman) may find this to be a very unwelcoming place for them.

But things can get even worse when we act out the unbalanced aspects of either quality.

“I lived very much in my toxic masculine. I could be aggressive, bullying, critical of myself and others, stuffing down my emotions, having different addictions, being narcissistic or greedy or arrogant. All of those sit in that toxic bucket on the masculine side. On the feminine side, it might show up as being jealous, impatient, manipulative, unreliable, having a victim mindset, people pleasing, or sabatoging others.”

Luckily, Dom had many breakthrough moments as the issues she grappled with grew more and more out of alignment with her soul’s path. One such moment was at a conscious leadership mastermind. Inspired, she read The 15 Commandments of Conscious Leadership, a book we’d recommend to any aspiring conscious leader.

As she followed the call toward a more conscious path, she devoted more and more of her time to personal growth. Plant medicine, breathwork, and talking circles were powerful tools that shifted her sense of responsibility inward. They helped her take responsibility for her life and stop projecting her issues onto others. This commitment to personal growth was the first step to conscious leadership. 

Bring the Personal to the Professional

We so appreciate Dom’s transparency about some of her least savory character traits. In a world where most people won’t admit to having issues, it’s a breath of fresh air to see someone be that honest. 

And guess what — we all have issues. Watching Dom share her journey makes us realize that we too, can admit to our shortcomings, and that’s the first step to changing them. 

But at first, Dom didn’t know how to integrate the new, awakened person she was becoming with her professional persona. 

“I felt like I had two personas going. I felt like I had a do at work persona and a do at home persona and it was driving me crazy and it was very exhausting. So I had affirmed with [my coach] in one of our sessions that I really wanted to shed the do work person and just be one true, authentic Dom.”

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“I just became very transparent with my team and, and I asked for a lot of grace. [I said] ‘Hey, I'm doing this. I'm committing to this because the way I was leading before was not working for me or for us. And so I'm making a decision to step into my consciousness and I'm willing to do the work and take full responsibility and shed these things that are no longer in alignment with who I'm becoming.”

What a huge relief. It takes so much energy to juggle to identities, and really, why bother? Who says that leaders have to act like they have it all together, even when we know they don’t? Who says that admitting weakness isn’t ok? 

Those are old paradigm ideas based in old structures that we’re changing every moment. 

Cultivating Consciousness on Your Team

The great thing about conscious leadership is that you can set a positive example — you get to initiate change.
So once you’ve got yourself in a more or less settled position in terms of your growth, you can make space for that in the office. 

“I get super excited about stuff primarily because I've just seen the changes in my own life. I've seen how it's helped me heal. I've seen how it's transformed my marriage. I've seen all of these things and I have that lived experience. So I definitely practice bringing that back to my team.”

So what does bringing it back to the team look like? Here are a few examples:

  • Weekly breathwork sessions
  • Hire someone to do a guided meditation or visualization
  • Wellness nights in addition to happy hours
  • Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, or other movement practices
  • Host a sound bath

It’s also important to be consistent with your practices and include integration, which means discussions and processing what happens during healings.

So if you do breathwork, make space for people to talk about what came up for them afterward. Encourage reflection and sharing. That’s the key to making a healing session turn into inspiration for positive life changes that go far beyond a weekly session.  

“It’s one thing to have an experience. It's another thing to have an experience and build on it. Breathwork really opens you up. You [need to] have integration time where you can talk about what's come up for you in a safe environment, [which means avoiding judgement and viewing people like ‘work people’.] You're talking about real life things and you're sharing stories. You're connecting on a deeper level.”

Of course, you don’t want to force anyone to do anything or make it uncomfortable for them in any way. The point is to be conscious, which means respecting boundaries, being compassionate and understanding, and honoring people’s choices and autonomy.

Start slowly. Healing is a process, and every person is different. But if you can, make it fun. 

As your team makes progress, you’ll be amazed at how much more supportive your team will be of each other.

“I've seen a transformation on my team. On our slack channels, we talk about deeply personal subjects: stories and fears and shame and guilt and all the things that come up for people.”

With consistent practice, you and your team will grow in ways you never thought possible.

Become a Conscious Leader With Dot Connect

There is so much more to learn about being a conscious leader than what we could cover in this short article. From which practices work for you and your team to how the new culture will look,
it’s an exciting path that never ends. We hope you’ve gotten some inspiration for where to start.

As you shift into conscious leadership, you may find you need to revamp your team. We’re all about mission-driven recruitment, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you need some assistance.

And if you’re a job-seeker looking for your dream company, reach out to us! We’d love to find a place that fits your values.

We’ve helped visionary job seekers like you make their career visions come true, and we’ve helped businesses like Beautycounter, Samsung NEXT, and Zendesk find their dream teams. Connecting the dots is what we do!