04.07.2021 Conscious Leadership Author: Kelly Campbell
organizational enlightenment
Photo by Hrithik Bachchas on Unsplash

Perhaps we’ve all been wrong about organizations from the beginning, with regard to their effectiveness, how success is defined and how impact should be considered. 

While doing some research for this piece, we came across an article published one year ago to the day of this writing, entitled Rethinking ‘Organizational Effectiveness’ as a Core Premise of Organization Development: Beyond Narrow Organizational Interests and Towards Wider Soulful Interventions, by Andrew Baughen, Cliff Oswick and Rosie Oswick.

Wider soulful interventions?

That language struck us immediately because we had been grappling with the same quandary in needing to create new verbiage to identify the movement bubbling up within organizations and to describe the ultimate vision for the work that Consciousness Leaders serves to facilitate in the world. (While the research has been published in Journal of Change Management, you can read more about the premise of it here: “Organisational change through non-traditional approaches” by Research Outreach.)

We have become so hyper-focused in our attempt to understand why our organizations function the way they do — and so obsessed with the bottom line as the ‘monochrome metric’ (to borrow from Baughen’s TEDx talk on “Redefining Value”), that we’ve devalued the very things that are essential to human life: other humans and our environment.

So, what language have we been using to talk about how we can better understand areas in need of improvement and how to evolve?

OD, I/O Psychology and Change Management

Organization Development (OD) is a specialization within Industrial/Organizational (I/O) psychology — and under OD is an area called change management. It can get confusing because the terms are often commingled and loosely defined. So, let’s start with some clarity.

Organization Development is the study and implementation of practices, systems, and techniques that affect organizational change. In short, it helps groups build their capacity to change as well as to achieve greater effectiveness by developing, improving, and reinforcing strategies, structures, and processes. Got it.

Organizational psychologists study the structure of an organization and the ways in which the people in it interact. They focus on the behavior of employees in the workplace, and they apply psychological principles and research methods to improve the overall work environment, including performance, communication, professional satisfaction and safety. Okay, now we’re getting focused on the humans!

“The culture of a workplace — an organization’s values, norms and practices — has a huge impact on our happiness and success.”

— Adam Grant

And lastly, change management is defined as the methods and manners in which a company describes and implements change within both its internal and external processes. Strategy is nothing without intentional implementation.

These practice areas, the research that emerges from them on an ongoing basis, and the methods by which we enact positive change are foundational to how we get a little better every day. And yet, something still feels like it’s missing from the conversation because far too many workplaces actually have a negative impact on their employees’ lives. Far too many people are suffering mentally, emotionally and even physically from stress and toxicity. There is little to no value generation, with specific regard to the development and wellbeing of the people working within organizations — the communities we comprise, nor the natural environment we all share.

Roxane Gay, writes in The New York Times, “There is a lot of unfulfillment… A lot of women deal with condescending bosses, pay disparities and a lack of accommodations for motherhood. A lot of men are trying to figure out how to navigate the workplace as cultural norms change. People from all walks of life want to know how they can make their companies more inclusive and how to address institutional racism, or they resent these efforts because they feel wrongly implicated… We need a path to the elusive “way out”, one that inspires us to be better and to keep at it.”

Gay’s description of that elusive path that inspires commitment to a continual practice of betterment is precisely why we felt called to define a new category. And of course, our contention is that it should go beyond the organizations themselves.

We simply haven’t had a name for it until now, but Organizational Enlightenment has been a long time coming; its creation is a natural extension of the paradigm shift we’re just starting to see in business leadership.

Organizational Enlightenment (OE) is the practice of aligning an organization’s ideals and actions with positive societal and cultural evolution.

  • We call it a practice because it must be ongoing to work. 
  • We talk about society because it’s important for organizations to think outside of themselves and consider how they contribute to the whole. 
  • We end the definition with culture because we want to drive home that the greatest opportunity for lasting change lies within the business community — and that can only begin with conscious leaders.

“To transform business as a force for good, we need bold and brave leaders — individuals that are not afraid to get personal, emotional, and to define and defend their values.”

Lucy von Sturmer, Sustainable Brands

When envisioning Consciousness Leaders from the onset, we were pulled by the world’s desire  to create more equity and more sustainability. Yet, what we had been sensing was our insight and own commitments to consciousness playing out as one of the crucial changes necessary for our communities to thrive. We knew that  all stakeholders want change, and we know that consciousness is good for business.  

So, what’s the gap between knowledge and execution? It’s in determining how to begin and whom to trust for guidance.  

Consciousness Leaders is the first of its kind collective of diverse and trusted experts in conscious leadership — an all inclusive platform where evolving organizations can turn for support to reach Organizational Enlightenment. It is our commitment to cultivate experienced speakers, consultants, coaches, authors and workshop facilitators from around the globe into one hub with the expertise to guide change that our teams, our communities and our customers now demand. Organizations that embrace consciousness will remain perpetually relevant and lead us forward into the decades to come. Search leadership experts at www.consciousnessleaders.com.

About the author

Kelly Campbell is the founder of Consciousness Leaders and Trauma-Informed Conscious Leadership Coach to self-aware visionaries. She writes for Entrepreneur and has written for Forbes. They are the author of "Heal to Lead" (Wiley, 2024), a new book on transforming past trauma in order to uncover our innate leadership power.