• Fiona Deehan

PACE yourself - a guide to Conscious Leadership

Updated: Mar 2

What do I mean by Conscious Leadership?

What is the impact of Conscious Leadership?

"Leadership is not just about titles or corner offices - we all have opportunities to lead everyday as we lead ourselves, our colleagues, at home and in our communities."
"To be conscious is to be awake, aware, intentional, taking 100% responsibility for our thoughts, feeling and actions and the impact on ourselves and others. It is choosing how to respond, rather than unconsciously reacting."

Conscious leaders enable conscious humans in workplaces to thrive and bring their best to their work.

Conscious leaders know who they are (their values), what they are good at (their strengths), have the courage to do the right thing and a desire to have a positive impact on the people they lead.

Conscious leadership is sustainable, wellbeing-enhancing and delivers better business and people outcomes.


A Conscious Leader is NOT


...perfect, nor do they pretend to be


...'on' all the time, rather aspires to be consciously 'on purpose' in how they show up in their life


...fearless, but has the courage to be themselves and face their fears


Conscious Leaders do not have to be perfect to talk about and practice being conscious.


So, what's PACE got to do with all this?


The PACE model for Conscious Leadership forms the basis for The Conscious Leader workshop. Rebekah, Progress People’s Wellness Lead and Organisational Psychologist, and I developed this model based on social science, positive psychology and wellbeing research, as well as our own personal and professional experiences.


The four aspects of Conscious Leadership we have identified are Positivity, Authenticity, Courage and Empathy and at the centre of the model, as a foundation of each aspect, is Vulnerability.


We have found that by engaging with, practicing and strengthening each of these aspects underpins a conscious and intentional style of leadership that energises self and exponentially increases the positive impact on ourselves, those we lead and the world around us.


Read the summary of each aspect and take some time to reflect on how you engage with them.


1. Positivity

Positivity is not about being ‘happy’ all the time, nor is it about being blind to potential risks and danger.

Engaging with positivity is about becoming aware of our hard-wired negativity bias and our biological ‘fight or flight’ response and noticing the impact of these when we approach problems and interactions with others from a place of negativity, suspicion and self-protection. This might have been useful for our cavepeople ancestors when confronted with the danger of a tiger that was seeing them as lunch, but does it serve us in our relationships and how we work and communicate with others?


Time to reflect: What might the impact be on your ability to navigate life, leadership and relationships if you could strengthen your capacity for positivity?


2. Authenticity

To be authentic means that you act in ways that show your true self and how you feel. Rather than showing people only a particular side of yourself, you express your whole self genuinely. That means to succeed in being authentic, you first have to know who your true self actually is and what are the values that you aspire to align to as you navigate life.


Consider a person that you admire - is their authenticity one of the attributes you admire about them? How do they demonstrate that authenticity? Do you perceive it as a quality of strength?


Time to reflect: What might the impact be on your ability to navigate life, leadership and relationships if you could strengthen your capacity for authenticity?


3. Courage

Courage is typically associated with heroic and brave deeds, but this doesn’t recognise the strength, risk, emotional exposure and uncertainty that goes along with being authentic, speaking openly about who we are and our experiences. Courage, fear and vulnerability can and do co-exist!


Consider a time you’ve done something courageous - how did it feel beforehand? When we consider our workplace, homes and communities, what actions and behaviours demonstrate courage?


Time to reflect: What might the impact be on your ability to navigate life, leadership and relationships if you could strengthen your capacity for courage?


4. Empathy

Empathy is having the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from their perspective. The extra piece about taking the perspective makes it something more tangible and practical than simply understanding. The truly empathic person is not soft or easily manipulated, but rather, strong, decisive and courageous enough to say and do what needs to be done to ensure the best outcome for the person they are connecting with.


Time to reflect: What might the impact be on your ability to navigate life, leadership and relationships if you could strengthen your capacity for empathy?


5. Vulnerability

What about vulnerability? Why is that at the centre? Why does it matter most?

Brene Brown defines vulnerability as 'risk, uncertainty and emotional exposure'. Bearing that mind, think again about each of the 4 aspects of the PACE leadership model. Leaning into positivity, authenticity, courage and empathy are conscious, intentional choices we must make and all require vulnerability (risk, uncertainty and emotional exposure). No-one said it was easy, but who said it was supposed to be.


I'd love to hear any thoughts or questions you have about Conscious Leadership and the PACE model so please email me on fionadeehan@deehanleadershipcollaborative.co.nz


If you're ready to commit to being a Conscious Leader, email me on fionadeehan@deehanleadershipcollaborative.co.nz and let's explore this model together.


If you want to read more about The Conscious Leader workshop and it's impact on previous participants, check out this article.

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