DURBAN -  “Passion, dispassion and compassion are the hallmarks of an authentic leader ” says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, co-founder of the World Forum for Ethics in Business, humanitarian and spiritual head of the Art of Living Foundation. He has a huge following in South Africa, especially in KwaZulu Natal. 

I met with him in Bangalore accompanied by the CEO of IQ Business, Adam Craker and the CEO of Afrika Tikkun, Marc Lubner who are the winners of the Conscious companies Awards.

Sri Sri as he is fondly known is an august and gentle presence despite his influence on Presidents and numerous leaders from around globe. His humanitarian, educational and volunteer based organisation is the largest in the world and his teachings and service initiatives have touched the lives of over 370 million people worldwide with a presence in over 195 countries. 

He says of conscious leadership: “ There are different styles of leadership that require having to deal with diverse situations and people, to be able to deal with them justly requires a sharp intellect, patience, endurance and presence of mind. A conscious leader is one who creates an atmosphere of trust, cooperation and sense of belonging with everyone.”

I spoke to Sri Sri about the dark space global leaders find themselves in. : “We cannot brand all the leaders in the world as being in a dark place. Because I have interacted with many leaders, many of them really want to do good in the society yet somehow they find themselves strangled in the system, unable to do anything. So here what is really needed is to bridge the gap. People like you who are in business and industry who are very sensitive to create a better society, sensitive to the needs of the people and suffering of the people can play a very big roll . You can connect the people in the street to those in the thrones. Now I would say people in responsibility, whether they are leaders or those who are decision makers need to have a little calm collected mind. They need to find that clarity in their thinking. To that I would say they must do some meditation. Take some time off. Shut off. It is very important for conscious leaders to have that broad vision and be committed to serving society, to be sensitive to environmental issues and to see the welfare of the last person in their province or in their country. They need to take better take care of themselves. They also need to free  their minds from prejudice and should be willing to listen to criticism and accommodate a positive point of view. Only then can they do good for society. 

Sri Sri advocates the science of breath, a unique methodology to create conscious human beings. This self-development programme offers the technology of a powerful breathing technique that is transformational. Several studies on Sri Sri’s science of breathing had elicited a significant response in consciousness and transformation. Dr Richard Brown, associate professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of Columbia claimed that the breathing technique contributed to a state of alert calmness through its effects on the vagus nerve. This nerve is critical in social bonding, empathy and love. It also impacts perception, observation and decision making capacity. Such is the power behind the breath that the core of the Conscious Leadership Programme is acquiring this skill. 

“An important part of management is creativity, Sri Sri states, “and that can only come from silence. Maintaining just a few minutes of silence each day can open up a new dimension of life.” 

Brenda Kali is the CEO of Conscious Companies and the Founder of the Conscious Leadership Academy.