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January 11, 2017

How to Create a Conscious Culture in 2017

Everywhere I go, I hear stories about the challenges people are having working in organizations plagued with drama. It’s happening in small organizations and large, public and private, non- and for-profit. These high drama cultures support employee disengagement, wasted time and money, and recycling issues that people say they want to resolve.

We see that these patterns can change over time when leadership commits to creating a conscious culture. Here are the keys to successfully moving toward a more conscious culture:

1. Start at the top. Teams need to know that they can trust the key decision makers to walk their talk. We recommend that the executive team first models conscious leadership through practicing daily with their direct reports. Once they are perceived to be more present and aware by those they lead, then we suggest taking it to the next level.

2. Clearly articulate the vision for the culture. What are the values, guiding principles and best practices that the organization stands for? Make sure they are clearly articulated, role modeled and regularly articulated.

3. Practice, practice, practice. Create easy practices that can be incorporated into your working flow. We encourage everyone to develop individual practices, one-on-one practices with a learning partner, and practice for small and large groups.

4. Create a shared language. We’ve learned that teams who create specific terms and phrases to describe how they are feeling and being are more likely to be vulnerable and authentic with one another. This languaging supports more rapid learning to resolve conflicts and enhance collaboration.

5. Provide environments that enhance well-being. Physical and spiritual well-being enhances emotional and mental well-being. We encourage companies to offer healthy foods and drinks, provide ample movement opportunities, offer quiet rooms for meditation and naps, and to create aesthetically beautiful spaces.

6. Inspire a feedback rich environment. Feedback is often delivered as criticism, which tends to elicit defensiveness and shut down learning. If feedback is instead offered from a place of curiosity, deeper connection, and growth, surprisingly positive results generally follow. This is a skill that needs to be learned and cultivated.

7. Integrate self-awareness skills into performance reviews. After team members have had time to practice, we encourage leaders to have team members give one another feedback about how effective they are in leading consciously, both on a regular basis and during biannual or yearly reviews.

8. Include professional coaching and facilitation. Don’t go at it alone. Get the support of experts who can provide tools and feedback and offer incisive challenge when needed. Identify an internal champion and support them in getting additional training to create an in-house coach.

9. Be patient. Not everyone goes at the same pace, and people transform and integrate in different ways, so don’t assume people aren’t willing to learn because they don’t overtly practice as often as others. It’s natural for some people to be skeptical. Give them time to see the value through experiencing shifts in others and interpersonal and organizational results. At the same time, if you have a toxic employee who is committed to being a victim, we suggest clearly communicating well-defined boundaries, and moving them out if they aren’t interested in taking responsibility for their choices and results.

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Diana Chapman
Founding Partner
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