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Cultural Evolution in the Age of Consciousness

A new paradigm has emerged in the business world that is changing how leaders think, act, and make decisions about the health and performance of their organizations. We have moved from the information age, where knowledge capital was our key concern, into the Age of Consciousness, where changes in society are creating a new cultural capital in organizations. This is new cultural capital is driving change, transformation, and evolution in what people value, believe, and how we work together.

Cultural capital is the value that can be placed on the way of being or “personality” of an organization. That set of thoughts, norms, behaviours and underlying beliefs that determine how people work together. For example, no longer is it acceptable to work for an organization that doesn’t value equity, diversity and inclusion, isn’t making an effort to go green, or won’t provide work from home options wherever possible.

After 3 years of working from home because of the pandemic, many values and beliefs in society have changed, which has impacted the workplace in many different ways. It used to be unacceptable to work from home, as most managers did not believe employees would be as productive at home vs working in the office, where they could oversee staff performance. The pandemic changed this mindset, as managers discovered their employees were actually more productive working from home.

The pandemic has also been the cause of the rise in the gig economy as many boomers decided to take early retirement. When this happened it created a human resource shortage. However, the available technology to support long distance work from home and a shift in manager’s mindsets has provided a solution to the people shortage. No longer is it necessary to find talent in your local vicinity. Talent can now be sourced around the global, in different time zones, as freelance workers with the required skills, have access to collaboration technology necessary to do the work.

Change is about doing things faster, better, and cheaper. Transformation is about the internal shift in values and mindsets required to support the external changes. Evolution is the combination of both at the same time. As scary as it may feel, the pace of change is only going to speed up. With the application of new technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, life as we know it today is going to be quite different in a few years. To succeed and thrive, I believe we all have to be open to keeping pace with the evolutionary changes taking place in society. Whatever is happening on the outside, will eventually have an impact on the inside. We have no choice. This is how the human race has always evolved and will continue to evolve.

Cultural transformation is now merging into cultural evolution as changes taking place in society are forcing organizations to change the systems and processes impacting people. There is no denying that our awareness has been evolving at a fast pace, probably due to the speed of change happening all around us. A few years ago the word "conscious" meant being awake and aware of what was going on around you in your immediate environment. Unconscious meant being asleep, knocked out, or unaware of what was going on around you.

In the new Age of Consciousness, "conscious" means something much more. It may be more akin to mindfulness, awareness of one's existence, thoughts, feelings and environment. And it goes even further—being awake, alive, accepting of life as it is, connecting with others on deeper levels, being present to the bigger picture, and the greater good for all. It is the recognition of interconnection between ourselves and our world: the most profound level of responsibility imaginable, that each of us, and our thoughts, feelings, and intentions create the world we live in. Karl Jung meet Buddha. Eckhart Tolle high five.

What evidence is there for the Age of Consciousness?

The Age of Consciousness is gradually unfolding in all areas of society from our daily lives to our business practices. It seems that everywhere we turn there is reference to mindfulness or consciousness, people making a difference, changing our world, or giving back in some form or another. Conscious philosophies and practices are gradually finding their way into mainstream society. In time, this can only lead to a huge shift in humanity.

Only last week I was listening to the radio and there was a show on Conscious Dating. Being married for thirty-four years, I was curious how the single life is evolving. It appears, singles are now being told to listen to their intuition when they first meet a person to whom they are attracted. Don’t wait for three dates to finally listen to the “little voice in the gut.”

Artwork is becoming diverse and inclusive. Recently I was visiting the Head Office of an international bank and a beautiful painting caught my eye. Admiringly, I walked closer and noticed there was a Hindu God in the centre of the painting. To the left was an image of the seven chakras. I expect to see paintings like this at retreat centres in exotic places, not in banks in the middle of Toronto, Canada.

As we evolve in the age of consciousness people are relating to the world in a deeper, more meaningful way, caring for the world around them and their role in it. People appreciate that collective participation in the change process leads to better solutions and commitment to those solutions.

One quarter into the 21st century, leaders now recognize they need to be the change they wish to see, or face the consequences of being left behind. To get the most from their resources leaders must create new work environments to help knowledge workers maximize the volume of information at their fingers. The new competitive advantage is how effectively organizations can evolve their culture capital, collaborate and work together, to develop new solutions for the growing needs and opportunities of solving society’s global challenges.

To support leadership teams through change and transformation to cultural evolution, Culture Leadership Group has developed a 2-day seminar - Cultural Transformation, based on my book Conscious Culture – How to Build a High Performing Workplace through Values, Ethics and leadership. It highlights a framework based on awareness, belongingness and commitment. This is a values-driven approach for energizing, inspiring and motivating employee engagement and high performance, giving people a voice in the process of change.

With love from Ottawa, Canada Joanna Barclay,

CEO, Culture Leadership Group

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