Conscious Leadership Explained: Building Off What’s Missing in Leadership

By Nancy Kepner and Julianna Christie

Leadership development takes many forms. At Crafted Leadership it manifests, counterintuitively, in a question: Are you willing?

We ask the willingness question of clients, over and over, in different forms: Are you willing to take healthy responsibility for what you create in the world? Are you willing to increase the time you spend in your zone of brilliance? Are you willing to shift? And so on. The draw here is expansive self-awareness, a quality long associated with leadership.

We build off what’s missing in leadership.

Research shows a majority — 67% — of employees worldwide are disengaged, and a hyperfocus on growth and profits is coming at the expense of people’s well-being. There are significant gaps in leadership where an old style reliant on control and blame tactics isn’t working. We continue to rely on hierarchy as the primary work structure, reducing individual performance and collaboration at a time when we most need the skills of every person on the team.

To counter those trends and meet a market need for a new leadership paradigm, we started Crafted Leadership. We believe the quality of our leaders affects the quality of our lives. We exist to bring conscious leadership into the global workplace.

What is conscious leadership?

Conscious leadership:

  • supports people to move out of a command-and-control, power-over leadership model and into a collaborative, power-with leadership paradigm

  • supports leaders to be more present, aware, and engaged. Leaders develop their ability to make ongoing choices from a place of 100% responsibility and to respond from creativity (instead of reactivity)

  • builds teams who trust one another and move through conflict without drama

  • values openness-to-learning, curiosity and play as effective means to unleash innovation and creativity

  • engages team members through operational integrity

  • replaces turf wars with true collaboration, where an ally mindset, clear agreements and and healthy responsibility invigorate the whole system

  • integrates an ongoing, open-loop feedback system

  • communicates the details in a way that invites wonder and that does not blame anyone

  • chooses to express rather than withhold key feelings, thoughts and information

  • creates a field of appreciation in the workplace that reinforces and expands what is most valuable in the organization

  • supports and prioritizes everyone contributing from their zone of brilliance

  • is the new norm for global work cultures

  • Crafted Leadership provides skills-based training around four tent poles of conscious leadership: self mastery, relational mastery, integrity, and improvisation. Focused attention to these areas builds teams of high trust and collaboration — sustainable alternatives to fear and burnout.

You lead by default or you lead by design

You’ve heard the saying, “natural leader.” Not exactly. Leadership is mostly a learned skill. Those who lead by default manage through unconscious patterns, reactivity and bias. Those who lead by design do the work to develop their self-awareness and ability to respond rather than react. To lead by design is to put attention to learning and embodying leadership skills.

Above and below the line leadership

A central leadership concept Crafted Leadership uses is The Line. Adapted from the work of our colleagues Dr. Julia Colwell and the Conscious Leadership Group, the concept is this: at any moment, we are operating from one of two states, either Creative Brain or Reactive Brain:

Unconscious leadership is about operating from the closed, defended state, otherwise known as Reactive Brain. This is Leadership Below the Line.

Conscious leadership is about operating as much as possible from the open, curious state, aka Creative Brain. This is Leadership Above the Line.

Neither Above the Line nor Below the Line states are right or wrong. They simply “are.” As humans, we continually fluctuate above both. We believe leaders have more sustainable influence and generate more trust and innovation above the line, so Crafted Leadership’s focus is supporting leaders with tools and practices to lead above the line.

What are the key conscious leadership skills?

The Architecture of Inspiring Leaders is our model consisting of 13 skills that cover vital aspects of conscious leadership. These skills are simple, but they require practice and commitment. Practice is the difference between talking about leadership and actually embodying it.

The Architecture of Inspiring Leaders

Conscious leadership develops emotional, social, and body intelligence. We call it whole-body, whole-person learning. We learn to leverage our intuition for better decision-making; we influence others through resonance, not control; we understand the wisdom of emotions; we generate trust rather than fear.

Conscious leadership has a rational basis

Conscious leadership has a rational financial basis for companies. Dysfunctional leadership leads to turnover, which reduces productivity and revenue. With conscious leadership, with its focus on operationalizing integrity and cultures of high-trust, relational value and relational capital is preserved, turnover is lower, and companies have more discretionary spending. High-trust teams positively correlate to high-performing teams, who help increase financial returns.

Conscious or unconscious leadership can be the difference between success and failure for an organization. Which do you choose?

If you agree or are interested in our mission, you can read more at or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We’d love you to join our community of conscious leaders!



303.709.3145 | 801.230.0983


PO Box 521213

Salt Lake City, UT 84152


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