Welcome back to my series on Conscious Leadership! In this series, I’m going to summarize some key principles from a book I read earlier this year: The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, and Kaley Warner Klemp. With this series, I hope to shed some light on the fast moving trend that is Conscious Leadership, and explain why you should consider integrating these 15 commitments into your existing leadership style or lifestyle, in general.

Here, in Part 8 of the series, we are going to take a look at the 7th Commitment of Conscious Leadership: Generating Appreciation.

COMMITMENT SEVEN: Generating Appreciation

In Part 1 of this series we described the notion of Leading Above the Line or Leading Below the Line. The simple question leaders can ask themselves to determine how Consciously they are Leading is “am I leading below the line or above the line?

For Commitment # 7: Generating Appreciation, the difference between leading above the line versus leading below the line is as follows:

Above the Line: I commit to living in appreciation, fully open to both receiving and giving appreciation.

Below the Line: I commit to feeling entitled to “what’s mine”, to deflecting appreciation, and to being unaware of what I appreciate in others.

Living in Appreciation

Conscious leaders commit to living in appreciation. So what does that look like?

Awareness

The first step of appreciation is simply paying attention, which involves being in the present moment and focusing your attention on a person or situation. More than that, you can make more refined distinctions and become sensitively aware by experiencing things with the curiosity of new eyes. What this means is that you not only experience things the way you typically do, but approach these experiences like it is your first time sensing/doing them. Approaching experiences with curiosity allows you to distinguish and discover things about what your’e experiencing with “new eyes” that can lead to a new appreciation of the overall experience or even allow you to appreciate new details or subtleties you never noticed before.

Intention

The second step of appreciation is to set your intention on being appreciative. When you do so, you will experience life with an intention to discover the “good” in things, to uncover things to appreciate about everything you see and do, and allow yourself to be open to seeing your world through this lens of appreciation. Living with the intent to be appreciative will naturally add value to everything in your life and even allows you to approach change and new experiences with a new energy, as you will have the intention of finding something of value and appreciate in anything that comes your way.

Giving and Receiving Appreciation

Conscious leaders practice refining their attention and focus it on aspects of others or themselves that they would like to nurture. For example, what would happen if you started to observe the good aspects in others rather focusing on the things you want them to change or improve? Giving appreciation starts with attention but doesn’t end at expressing it. Living in appreciation allows you to focus on the things you value and grow them. Research has also shown that strong relationships optimally have five appreciations for every one criticism. Start by focusing on the good in people and make sure you express this to others! Giving appreciation will inherently strengthen your business relationships and your organization, itself.

As a Conscious leader, we should also learn to view appreciation given to us as a gift, something to value and accept. Refusing appreciation robs the other person of being able to give this gift and also disallows you to grow and connect with this person. When you refuse appreciation you are often times also denying a truth about yourself. Common ways of deflecting appreciation include:

  • Handing off the appreciation to someone else…”Don’t give the credit to me, it was actually Annette’s idea.”
  • Downgrading the appreciation…”It was okay, but it could done better.”
  • Dismissing the appreciation…”Oh that wasn’t a big deal. Anyone could do it.”
  • Criticizing the appreciation…..This is when your inner critic dismisses the appreciation by saying things internally like “What that person said isn’t true.”, “I’m not really that great”, etc.

Again, if we start to view appreciation as a gift and also realize that most of these deflecting mechanisms above come from some fear inside of us, whether it be you don’t want to come off un-humble, you’re afraid you will not improve if you accept appreciation, or that the other person doesn’t really mean it, we can begin to accept appreciation and also identify and work on these inner fears.

Mastering Appreciation

Conscious leaders work on mastering the art of appreciation. There are three elements to mastering appreciation:

  1. Sincerity – An appreciation should be genuine, real, and true. Else, it could do more damage than good.
  2. Inarguable Truth – You should express your appreciation with sentences that are not arguable. Instead of saying “That was a great presentation”, which is arguable, say “I thought your presentation was very well thought out and that you did a great job.”, which is inarguable. This avoids judgments and comparisons, as mentioned in previous parts of this series.
  3. Specificity – You should present your appreciation with clarity, so that the other person doesn’t need to guess what you truly mean.

By working on mastering appreciation you can ensure your business relationships will be nurtured and grow, just like a well maintained plant.

Conclusion

Appreciation allows us to recognize things we value in ourselves and others and allows organizations to expand and focus on what matters most. As conscious leaders, we must practice living in appreciation, by both giving and receiving it!

 

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for Part 9 of the Conscious Leadership series, where we’ll dive into Commitment 8 of the 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership.