C-Suite Agenda

The 7 habits of woke leaders – why leading by example creates a bigger impact than lecturing for “change”

Conscious leadership (both personally and professionally) is a vital evolution in creating strong teams, families and companies. Now more than ever, the responsibility of leading by example and our larger culture is stemming from companies who have been given the charter of making decisions that impact individuals at home as much as at work.  As a leader we cannot avoid the spotlight being on our own actions and how we handle unprecedented times with grace and vision. Leadership is about evolution as much as it is resolution and resilience.

Here’s 7 habits of truly ‘woke’ leaders:

  1. Awake leaders don’t ‘advertise’ the fact
    Awareness does not require a badge of honour – it is a private and humbling process that often has involved deep reflection, tough lessons and true experience. It is the art of listening and observing rather than announcing. Woke leaders are too busy being themselves to tell you about how “aware” they are.
  2. Awake leaders make time for their wellbeing
    As a core part of mental and physical and emotional performance conscious leaders know to put their Oxygen Mask on first.  Burnt out leaders cannot perform. Running a company, a family and a life is like the grand slam premier sportsmanship. It requires mind/body/soul wellbeing to reduce the effects of stress, improve decision making and regular sleep.  That a healthy heart is the best investment for sustainable success. “Woke” leaders have the self discipline to maintain personal wellbeing is part of a positive P&L.
  3. Awake leaders discern without judgement
    Observation without projection. I refer to this with my clients as “owling”. One of the most brilliant ways to review a project, person, group or situation.  Rather than swooping in and reacting based on triggers and fears in situations, ‘woke’ leaders press pause and take a moment to have a higher perspective. Is this going to matter in the long term?  How does this affect the ‘now’, my team, customers , our core delivery?  Where are the triage points? What is the NEXT right thing to do? There is no judgement but rather a more strategic and intuitive alignment to reflect, ascertain and make a decision from a place of informed neutrality.
  4. Awake leaders are kind and compassionate by default
    Kindness and empathy are crucial traits of effective woke leaders. Not as martyrdom, but as an understanding that individuals and teams around them will have different lives, perspectives and situations they are facing and not everyone has the tools or resources to hand as many leaders do. Kindness does not require validation.  It is the natural balance to form a combined sense of achievement and showing significance.
  5. Awake leaders know when to retreat to hear their own intuition
    You will often find a conscious leader quietly taking a moment to themselves. Whether it’s 10 seconds or 1 hour to review, refine and get centred. To connect with their trifecta of experience, intuition and intellect. 3 very crucial tools to be used in unison. This means stepping away from the white noise of peer pressure, opinions and the familiar. Pioneers need space to create the small pivots that create incredible results.   They trust their gut and know how to press pause to clearly discern between that and everything else.
  6. Awake leaders are always curious
    How can this be better, what other options are there, how can I evolve? Woke leaders make the choice to replace fear with curiosity. Not in a reckless way – more in the understanding that to keep doing things the same way means you will get the same results. Making decisions from a place of “what if” – rather than avoidance, doubt, blame and shame. Woke leadership means a commitment to continually learn and be agile.
  7. Awake leaders lead by example
    Aware leaders do not lecture.   We have all no doubt had to re-program through the years and learn in our journey of leadership.  Over managing, over informing does not create an environment of learning and growth. It de-oxygenates the environment and often shuts down performance.  Instead evolved leaders provide a clear framework for the common why/what and a best practice for the how. It is the art of saying something clearly once, with regular milestones aka “pit stops” as checkpoints, rather than micromanaging. Empower teams to have input at each stage and nurture the result with clear KPI’s and best practices, that ensure quality of time, budget and end delivery along the way.

“Woke” leadership is an inside job. It is a subtle recognition that when we are aligned it provides an incredible place of humility, strength and natural character to cultivate trust and momentum.  This is where true co-creation and collaboration can exist.  Being a genuine leader is a constant evolution with grace and awareness –  it’s progress not perfection.         


Written by Nikki Fogden-Moore.

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Nikki Fogden-Moore
Nikki Fogden-Moore, author of Radical Self Belief, is a renowned change leadership specialist, host of Radical Self Belief The Mojo Maker Podcast and founder of The Quantum Decision Making Program©. Nikki is a proven expert who is dedicated to putting extraordinary leaders and individuals in the driver’s seat of life and work.


Nikki Fogden-Moore is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn. For more information, visit the author’s website.