How do Americans view leaders and their ability to navigate in a rapidly changing world? New research finds that a large majority believe “conscious” leaders—those aware of themselves, others, and their surroundings—can greatly impact and improve their organizations. However, less than half (48 percent) of Americans think leaders in our society are truly conscious, according to a survey from Healthy Companies International.

The research, conducted by The Harris Poll, suggests many employees feel the world is changing faster than their organizations can adapt, and that more conscious leaders are needed to help guide teams through this acceleration.

The impact of conscious leaders

A vast majority of Americans believe conscious leaders in an organization drive significant improvements in their employees’ performance (89 percent) and in their organization’s financial performance (87 percent). But there is a major perception gap—94 percent of C-level executives surveyed believe they are very or somewhat conscious, while only 60 percent of employed Americans believe the same of C-level executives at their organization. So nearly everyone thinks they are conscious, but the people around them don’t agree. Additional findings:

  • 52 percent of Americans believe the world is changing faster than their ability to adapt
  • 54 percent of Americans believe leaders are doing a poor to fair job adapting to change
  • 52 percent of Americans view society’s leaders, in general, as not conscious enough of themselves or their surroundings
  • 86 percent of Americans feel there would be less turmoil in the world if leaders were more conscious

Most Americans want more 'conscious' leaders—how to be one“We live in a world of accelerating change, and people are looking for leaders who can adapt, and drive that change,” said Bob Rosen, organizational psychologist, founder and CEO of Healthy Companies, in a news release. “Today’s leaders need to be fully conscious—introspective, curious, intentional, and honest—to earn the confidence of their employees while shaping business performance. Without these conscious leaders, organizations run the risk of underperforming and are vulnerable to competition.”

Measuring leader consciousness

The poll also debuted a new Conscious Index designed to measure how working adults perceive executives in their organizations. Working adults gave their leaders an average score of 57 out of 100 on the index, which measures consciousness based on self-awareness, open-mindedness, being proactive, and risk taking.

In his new book, CONSCIOUS: The Power of Awareness in Business and Life (Wiley, July 18), Rosen and co-author Emma-Kate Swann reveal practical advice to help leaders become more conscious.

The poll was conducted online by the Harris Poll on behalf of Healthy Companies International from May 22-24, 2018 among 2,021 U.S. adults ages 18+. 

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