Are You a Conscious or an Unconscious Leader?

Most people realize that a leader sets the tone and culture of a group or organization and you may feel that you make a “conscious” effort to be a good leader, so you may feel you are a conscious leader – but are you really?  The Conscious Leadership Group (CLG), consultants to numerous companies and organizations, identifies conscious leaders as “leading from above the line” – and unconscious leaders from “below the line”.  What does that mean?  They define leading above the line as being open, curious and committed to learning  – being proactive – whereas below the line as being closed, defensive, and committed to being right – being reactive.  How often, instead of being curious you become defensive; instead of the desire to learn, you want to be right; rather than leading from a place of trust and security you are focused on protecting your ego?  Leading below the line is not wrong – rather it’s a common state – but imagine how the game can change if you are able to realize when you are below the line and then decide to move to above the line.

Conscious leaders focus on how a conversation is occurring – the context – over what is being said in the conversation – the content – another example of not being reactive.  Finding a positive, creative solution to a problem is much more likely if you do not immediately react in anger and instead “listen” beyond just the words being said and don’t get trapped by old patterns.

The CLG suggests that leaders can begin to move from unconscious leadership (leading from below the line) to conscious leadership (leading above the line) by making a shift from being a leader in the “To Me” state to leading from the “By Me” state.

Leaders in the To Me state are at the effect of others as they make the choice to be victims.  They may have created a purpose or vision for their business but they are not leading from or to those.  When leaders accept responsibility they move from To Me to By Me, and shift from being victims to taking responsibility.  From having to be right to being curious to learn from what is happening in their lives and/or business and how that can help the success of their business – and their lives.

Over the next few months we are going to create a road map for those of you who are committed to becoming “conscious leaders”.  The first step on that road is to identify that commitment by your results – and to own those results.  Then realize that this is an ongoing process but your decision to become a conscious leader means you are truly willing to become a lifelong learner.

Developing the commitments of conscious leadership will help you create a culture in your firm that will help your entire team reach their maximum potential, which will make them more productive and create an atmosphere where everyone enjoys being part of the team.

Posted in

Drue Lawlor

Director of Business Transformation Coaching Drue leads our coaching and consulting. As a NCIDQ certified designer she and Gail co-developed the 12-month Strategic Business Transformation Group Coaching. The program leads the way in teaching designers how to build or redesign their businesses for profit and success. Outside of Gail Doby Coaching and Consulting she is the co-founder of Boomers with a Plan B. She is driven to help clients create a safer and healthier homes. You’ll find her in Senior Magazine and a contributor to the following books: Design for Aging: Post Occupancy Evaluations and Interior Graphic Standards, second edition.
Easy Budget Calculator Tool
What's Your Interior Designer Persona?
What's Your Interior Designer Persona?
The VIP Experience


  1. TONI L. NULTON on February 28, 2021 at 9:51 am

    Nice topic and will be very supportive to the community. Thanks Drue~

    • Drue Lawlor on March 11, 2021 at 10:46 am

      So glad you like the topic – I think it is often a wake up call to really ask ourselves what kind of leader we are.

  2. Christopher Shields on March 6, 2021 at 5:56 pm

    Drue, I love the idea of the mental shift from “to me” to “by me.” As a CEO and Interior Designer, I find I’m in the middle of a lot of situations. Between client, contractor, subcontractors, vendors, Architects, etc. I have to create a lot of conversations and often have to bridge opinions and ideas. I see my responsibility in a few different ways… I set the design direction (concept, selections, drawings/documents, etc.) , I communicate decisions and direction… AND I -collaborate- with a lot of people. I create the bar through professional conduct, communication and listening. I set the bar (and I think raise the bar) by being mindful of my role as well as everyone else’s… I am open to input because I do not know everything. I weight ideas, negotiate and make decisions. I look at this as my responsibility as a professional and a leader.

    • Drue Lawlor on March 11, 2021 at 10:49 am

      It truly is a positive shift when we take control and responsibility rather than wasting energy on “to me” leadership – and the same applies to the entire team. It is so much more productive to shift to “by me”. Especially as you mentioned, when you are wearing so many different “hats”.

  3. […] addressing the commitment to becoming a “conscious leader” we previously identified the first step on the road map to success as identifying that commitment by your results, and then to own those […]

Leave a Comment