Why Leading Your Way Matters Most
“My company has become a place where everybody is transforming as individuals, because everybody is getting stretched a little bit, as well.” – Sarah Hawley
On the brink of burnout, Sarah Hawley had an epiphany.
She had stepped away from her company for a month to refocus and, during that time, her team stepped up. In that growth, she realized there was a better way to lead — and forever changed her business model.
This conscious leadership that Sarah adopted is all about self-awareness — understanding who you are in the world and how you show up. After all, how you lead is no different from who you are.
In this episode of “Authors Who Lead,” Sarah joins me for a conversation about how, as an entrepreneur, your company will reflect who you are as a leader, and the inspiration behind her book, “Conscious Leadership: A Journey From Ego to Heart.”
Why This Book?
While Sarah has always known that she was meant for greatness, she wanted control over her destiny and to establish a sense of freedom. But as she strove for that, through founding eight companies, each one left her feeling trapped and struggling to work with her teams.
After her leadership epiphany, Sarah embarked on a personal and professional journey — ultimately landing in a place of love for her life, team and business.
As a successful businesswoman who followed advice from other entrepreneurs, Sarah decided to write this book to encourage fellow leaders and women to not only organize 90-day plans and set yearly goals, but to truly enjoy their lives alongside their businesses.
Defining ‘Conscious Leadership’
Sarah defines conscious leadership as a core understanding of yourself and who you are — and bringing that to the table as a leader. There isn’t an exact methodology behind implementing this style of leadership, but staying open and curious is a good way to start.
Watching the symbiosis between her first wave of remote workers helped Sarah pivot toward conscious leadership, she tells me. She saw not only their incredible working relationships, but the deep friendships they built, as well. The old system of gathering in one building, every day, no longer fit — and, all of a sudden, she found that she couldn’t micromanage anymore.
When a business gives its employees the freedom to lean into what’s right for them, it’s powerful for both the company and the individuals. It allows them to figure out who they are in the world and work with purpose.
For Sarah, conscious leadership also allows for open communication and moving away from those people who do not align with what you’re trying to create.
The First Next Step
When considering her first next step after adopting conscious leadership, Sarah experienced moments of self-doubt and surrender, but came away from them glad that she had stuck to her ideas. She knew that if she wanted to lead differently, she would have to let go and delegate, just as she had when she initially stepped back from her business.
“If you want to start doing things in a new way, there’s probably going to be a dip in effectiveness at first, and then things will start to improve,” she said.
Not only is conscious leadership now part of the way she leads her teams, Sarah also allows more fluidity with her business goals. One day, she woke up wondering why she needed to set 90-day goals and write business plans — and realized that she was programmed to feel like a failure if she didn’t.
How Does Your Company Feel Today?
I asked Sarah, “If I were working in your company today, how would it feel?”
She said that she continues to see a “beautiful connectivity and flow” in her team and, because of the work she has put in, her team has harmonious energy and flow. They take personal responsibility for their roles, which gives them a sense of ownership and empowerment.
Conscious leadership can feel uncomfortable and unrealistic at first because it takes time to build trust. Now, Sarah sees her company as a place where everybody is transforming as individuals — both professionally and personally.
What Was it Like Putting This Book Into the World?
With her first book, a publisher contacted Sarah and she wrote deliberately. This time, “Conscious Leadership” poured out of her organically — born from a brainstorming session during lockdown with her now-husband, Joe Hawley, who was in the midst of starting his first business.
Joe was already working with me and pointed Sarah my way. Six weeks later, she had written her book and it was immediately clear why it was so important. In it, she explores why the internal shift a leader must make first will only help shape the culture of a company — and this idea will help more people than a book on the best 10 ways to set goals or make a business plan.
Does a Business Have to Stay Small to Have Conscious Leadership?
Many people have told Sarah that the idea of conscious leadership only works in small companies or organizations.
The idea that she could keep a multi-billion dollar company’s culture in sync with conscious leadership intrigues Sarah. For her, that’s an experiment she’d try, rather than believe it won’t work. She tells me she is very focused on evolving and seeing how far she can take it.
Advice for Leaders Hesitant to Write a Book
I asked Sarah to offer her advice for leaders wanting to write a book, but who find themselves hesitant. She suggests they look at the source of the hesitancy, and then just take that next step.
“What about just embracing the beauty of writing what wants to come?” she said.
Leaders will learn a lot about themselves during the writing process. There will be moments of doubt, but at the end of the day, there is no downside to writing a book.
If you are thinking about going for it, remember these greatest takeaways from my conversation with Sarah:
- Why build a company without having the life you want from it?
- Changing the status quo to break away from what everyone else does is an advantage.
- Your company’s success or failure directly reflects who you are as a leader.
What was your biggest takeaway from the episode? Are your professional and personal lives in alignment? Do you feel trapped in your business? Are you a leader who wants to write a book? Share in the comments below!
That’s all for this week. Take that first next step and start writing today!