World Consciousness Alliance in their Renaissance of Humanity (RoH), Conversations for Change, hosted Mr. Richard Barrett, globally recognized thought leader in Values-Based Leadership, Cultural Transformation, Personal Development, and personal, cultural, and societal wellbeing and spoke about the role of conscious leadership in transforming humanity.
COVID 19 has reshaped our everyday life and impacted our values. It has forever changed the way we lead our lives and businesses. While there are various scenarios possible in our uncertain future, one thing is sure: to elevate ourselves beyond greed, competition and conflict, we need to transform our values, from ME to WE. Instead of trying to be the best in the world, we need to seek to be best for the world.
Richard Barrett and his team are coaching and transforming leaders and organizations throughout the whole world. They bring a holistic perspective to individual, organizational and social levels of development. Richard’s world view offers ideas that could transform humanity and uplift our global consciousness to its highest state. What is needed for such a transformation in our private lives, relationships, companies and societies?
Many heard about “Conscious leadership” but not too many know what it means to be a conscious leader.
RB: Whether you're a leader or not, in my model of the seven stages of development, the fourth stage is about becoming conscious and so the question is, what does becoming conscious mean?
There are three aspects of becoming conscious. The 1st aspect is: Becoming aware of the impact of your actions and behaviors on other people and on the planet? The 2nd aspect is: Becoming aware of the impact of your thoughts and beliefs on your physical and mental health. The 3rd aspect is: Caring about the impact of your actions and behaviors on other people in the planet and caring about the impact of your thoughts and beliefs on your mental and physical health. All of those three things have to be in place to become conscious. We are talking about reaching a level of consciousness which goes beyond your own survival.
Every living creature is conscious. It has awareness and it has a purpose. That's how I define consciousness: Awareness with a purpose, and the purpose of everything that is conscious is to maintain its internal stability and external equlibrium. This applies to a frog, a giraffe, a lion, a human being a nation or an organization. To survive, they must all constantly seek s to maintain internal stability and external equilibrium. If you can't maintain internal stability and external equilibrium, you're not going to survive, so that's the fundamental basis of consciousness - conscious of how you are impacting other people and how your thoughts and beliefs are impacting yourself. Alligators don't do that. Frogs don't do that. Human beings can do that, but not many of them do. Most people just behave like animals and look after themselves, and they're not really aware. So the fourth stage of human development, which Carl Jung called Individuation, is when you begin to realize that you are not alone in the world in the sense of how you influence and touch other people and the environment. We are aware that our thoughts and beliefs actually create stress and illness. Because each stage of development we go through in life impacts our energy field and impacts of the stages of development are linked to the chakra system as we move through to the higher stages of development. Every thought and belief impacts our energetic being and thereby our physical and mental health. Becoming conscious is absolutely essential if you want to lead a fulfilling life because it creates a sense of wellbeing. Up to your 20s and 30s, you've been learning how to fit into your environment in order to be successful. And now you ask, who am I really outside of all of this conditioning, what do I believe? What are my values? That's the individuating stage.
You may think that you found meaning and purpose already at the individuation stage, but wait until you really get into the next stage -self-actualization. You may find it changes a bit. That was my case. I was a transportation engineer and I loved it and I was very successful and I started working at the World Bank and in my mid-40s I realized that actually I was bored with my career and that was when I realized my purpose was transformation not transformation. And so I stopped being a transportation engineer, and I left the World Bank and started doing what I'm doing now. That's a brief glimpse of what it means to be conscious.
You mentioned autonomy and transformation. Some people are claiming that 2021 will be the year of transformation and some are just waiting to go back “to normal”. We can see huge changes due to the global crisis, but is humanity really going to transform?
RB: Well, there is some truth in that and we have to know what transformation means. Change is doing what I do now, but doing it differently. Transformation is a new way of being. So each time you move through a stage of development, you go through a transformation, each time you move into a new way of being your values change, and your sense of identity changes. When you're single you care about yourself. When you get married and there are two of you, you have to expand your sense of identity to include the other person. If you go on caring about yourself and not the other person, you won't be in that marriage very long. And then you have children and so you care about your children and your sense of identity expands again. So whatever you identify with, you care about. Each time we get a more expanded sense of identity. You live in your local community and you care about the local community. Once again, your identity expands. This is what consciousness means. Expanding consciousness means caring about a more inclusive, larger group. When you are at the age when you begin to find meaning and purpose in your work, you begin to care about your organization, because your organization is the vehicle you use to find meaning and purpose. So now you care about your organization, your sense of identity expands again. Now it's not just you, it's not just your partner. It's not just your children. It's not just your local community, it is also your organization. You've now got an expanded sense of identity. Then your organization starts to work in collaboration with other organizations, and which share the same values. Once again, your sense of identity expands to include that larger group of people, and then that larger group of organizations will care about the planet, care about the Sustainable Development Goals in the United Nations. Care about society. And so again you can now expand your sense of identity to include the whole world now as you move. Each shift in identity represents a new stage of psychological development. You’re moving up in consciousness because consciousness develops as you grow and expand your sense of identity. Consciousness expands by being more inclusive.
It was interesting that you mentioned how people feel good about an organization when they can identify with the values of the organizational culture. That is the reason why some corporate leaders decide to run culture campaigns, but for the majority of them, the major motivation is purely profit. What do you think about that?
RB: Yes, well that's true. When you care about your people, they care about you. It's the golden rule basically. Professor Kegan who used to be at Harvard University, talked about a deliberately developmental organization and I agree with that. At each stage of development, you have specific needs. When you have a need for freedom and autonomy, you don’t want your boss telling you what to do all the time. You won't need it. You now move to the next stage where you want to find meaning and purpose in your work, and then the next stage after that is that you want to make a difference by connecting with the people. Everybody in your organization is at one of these stages of development. So, what you need to do as a leader of an organization, is realize that, and give these different groups of people the opportunities they need to fulfill their needs at the stage of development they are at. Then you will have people who are extremely loyal. They will love working for you because they are getting their most important needs. They will say: I'm going to stay in an organization that gets my needs met. I'm not going to go somewhere else.
There is a fundamental link between the stages of development, how organizations respond to those stages of development and employee’ engagement. Engagement comes when you are able to meet the needs of your employees.
And that's what HR people need to recognize, and they need to create an organization that is able to satisfy those needs and that means becoming a deliberately developmental organization.
So this is my message to leaders. If you want a successful organization, care about the needs of your employees.
In one of your interviews, you mentioned three leadership mantras. One of them was that transformation of the values and culture actually starts with transforming the leaders?
RB: The organizational culture is a reflection of the values and beliefs and behaviors of the leaders. So if you want to transform your organization, either the leaders have to transform, or you have to change the leaders. I mean, it's as simple as that. Organizations are authoritarian regimes. They are not democratic, the leader gets to define what goes on and the values and beliefs of the leader become the culture of the organization. So if you want to improve the culture, then you have to change the values and beliefs of the leader or you have to change the leader. An enlightened leader may understand that, but mostly they are not enlightened, so they don't get it. They just see the bottom line.
They don’t get it because the results of investing in organizational culture are not tangible?
RB: Exactly. But, it is tangible. I've been measuring that for 20 years with the Barrett Values Center, we've been doing it all over the world in 40 or 50 different languages. This is the key. The leader has to get to a point where he or she recognizes that to improve the organization, the culture needs to change and for the culture to change, they need to change.
Your team and you recently did huge research with more than 2000 participants measuring the values in organizations before, during and after COVID 19?
RB: Yes, you can find all this well reported on the Barrett Values Center. COVID-19 has had a quite an interesting impact on organizational culture. First of all, employers began to realize that they need to protect their employees so they developed schemes like working from home etc. and then employees liked that, and so they felt good about it because now they don't have to travel to work two hours every day, which is a complete waste of time and they have all this extra time: “What do I do with this extra time? Oh well, I could do some learning courses”. It's a huge bonus for employers to do that. Then some employers said, “Well, we need to care about the families of our employees too” So they put things into place to help employees and their families during this difficult period. Now this approach was more compassionate, so we began to see this idea of compassion, which is a high level value, a level 7 value coming into play in our organizations.
You wrote somewhere: “We can only succeed individually if everyone in our global society succeeds”. What did you mean by that?
RB: First of all, what does success mean? For some people, at the lower levels of consciousness or lower stage of development, success means money, fame, things like that, but for people at higher stages development, it means well-being, so I feel successful when I am able to get my needs met. I will tell you a story from the beginning of my book, a new psychology of Human Well- being. The longest study by a university is the grand study of Harvard University. They have been following a group of 200 people for 75 years, interviewing them every year, every two or three years for more than 75 years now. They've analyzed what gives people a long life and what makes them happy. The result is really interesting. What makes people live long lives and happy lives and successful lives? It’s the quality of their relationships. It's as simple as that. That's the bottom line from Harvard. It's not about money. It's not about fame. It's not about fortune, it's about the quality of relationships.
What about the most frequent question in 2020, “Are we going back to normal”?
RB: No, we will never get back to what used to be normal because at every step something is changing. Change is the only constant in life.
Ten years ago, I wrote: Who are the most evolved leaders? Those who recognize that society is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment. So if the environment crashes, society will crash as well. And I also said that business is a wholly owned subsidiary of Society. If society crashes business will crash as well. COVID-19 is a perfect example of society crashing and business crashing. It affected businesses. Companies going bankrupt everywhere. There is a fundamental link between business and society which is pretty much being ignored. The new idea that comes out of COVID is: We, as an organization have to keep caring. We have to care about society because if we don't care about society, our businesses will crash. So, it's in the interest of every organization to care about society. The new role for business is to build resilient society. Resilience for a company means caring about employees, caring about society, caring about the environment. That's the new leadership paradigm. That's what companies have to do now. If they're going to survive in the future.
Richard Barrett is a globally recognized thought leader in Values-Based Leadership, Cultural Transformation, Personal Development, and the metrics of personal, cultural, and societal wellbeing.
He is the President of the Academy for the Advancement of Human Values, the Founder of the Barrett Values Centre, the Leader of the global Humanity Awareness Initiative, the Developer of the Barrett Culture Analytics for Organizations and Global Wellbeing Indicators for nations, a Fellow of the World Business Academy, and Former Values Coordinator at the World Bank. Richard is also a Founding Member of the V20 (Values) Task Force of the G20.