We Can All Be Conscious Leaders

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Tuesday, June 25, 2024
In a world where wealth creation has often come at the cost of people and planet, it's time to nurture leadership that elevates societal good.
Featuring Ernie Cadotte, Marketplace Simulations

Sponsored by:

  • Business schools should support a learning environment that embraces diversity, compassion, and mindfulness, which will help cultivate well-rounded, conscious leaders.
  • Responsible management involves shifting from a narrow focus on shareholder profits to one that considers all stakeholder responsibilities, including sustainable development goals and ethical obligations.
  • Through experiential learning, like hands-on simulations, students not only develop the traits of leadership but also understand the value of those traits on the job market.


Ernest Cadotte: [00:15] We can all be conscious leaders. What is leadership? Traditional views of leadership focus on command and control. Leaders orchestrate resources, including people, with the goal of running an efficient business and maximizing shareholder wealth.

[00:32] This single-minded focus on creating wealth does not necessarily inspire good, and can certainly cause harm. Managing a business does not give us the license to do whatever is necessary to create wealth. However, it does provide us with the opportunity to add more than we take from society.

[00:51] For a long time, I've been part of the problem. For too many years I have stressed that the sole purpose of a business is to create wealth. It is time for me—and all of us—to focus on creating leaders who champion change and care about societal good. People we call "conscious leaders."

[01:11] There are several things we can do to create conscious leaders. For example, we can promote diversity among our students, staff, and faculty so we can all learn and benefit from each other. We can devise and apply scorecards and dashboards that measure performance for all stakeholders, not just the stockholders.

It is time for me—and all of us—to focus on creating leaders who champion change and care about societal good.

[01:31] Properly developed, these scorecards provide mental frameworks for our students to judge the efficacy of their own actions. Education is not about technical skills. I will say that we, as faculty, do a very good job in training students on their technical capabilities.

[01:48] We need, however, to give students room to cultivate compassion, mindfulness, and empathy while encouraging them to incorporate these traits within their business lives. We need to show students that great leadership starts with earned respect. Now, how do we train powerless individuals to develop the traits of leadership?

[02:08] By encouraging self-reflection, giving them opportunities to practice conscious leadership, providing mentorship and feedback, and expanding their perspective. One way to develop leaders is to introduce them to the concepts of conscious capitalism in a very practical, hands-on way.

[02:29] Why do I like conscious capitalism? It's because it embodies the spirit of triple bottom line, the principles of responsible management education, sustainable development goals, and corporate social responsibility. Most important, I really favor its focus on leadership, culture, higher purpose, and all stakeholders.

Business educators need to give students room to cultivate compassion, mindfulness, and empathy while encouraging them to incorporate these traits within their business lives.

[02:52] I'm the author of the Conscious Capitalism Simulation by Marketplace Simulations. This simulation provides the setting for developing conscious leaders. Students must build a profitable business while managing social, environmental, and ethical responsibilities and opportunities. Throughout, we emphasize conscious leadership is reflected in the students' teamwork, executive briefings, business plans, stockholder reports, assessment metrics, and instructors who act as coaches.

[03:22] AACSB expects schools to develop leaders to manage societal impact. To do this, we need to give students practice in the real-life challenges of managing societal impact. Furthermore, we need to emphasize that leadership does not require formal authority.

[03:40] Leadership is about a way of life, based upon principles, ideals, and unwavering mindfulness of all stakeholders. Being a role model will encourage others to follow out of respect. Authority is not required. We can all be conscious leaders.

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