24th September, 2019

The Purpose Journey: Conscious Leadership

Following our journey into the future back in May 2019, it was time for BRIDGE Singapore’s Purpose Journey event series to reopen its doors. Forty curious guests relaxed into the velvety couches of Prudential Tower’s Hemingway Lounge – glass of wine in hand, eager to delve into all things Conscious Leadership.

Purpose Journey Event (Singapore)Purpose Journey Event (Singapore)

BRIDGE is known for creating disruptive experiences that challenge mindsets. “Why not bring this into our event series?” we had asked ourselves. So, an evolved format was born – one that combined a panel of highly energetic experts, already on their journey to purpose, with an immersive workshop experience for all attendees.

During the launch event, Surviving and thriving in 2030, Futurist Benjamin Butler highlighted that being human and leading with humility, creativity, and emotional intelligence would become even more important in a world driven by technological advancements and disruptive innovations.

Today’s leaders are being bombarded with increasingly complex challenges. But it is unrealistic to expect leaders just to know and do more. Instead, what is required now more than ever is a fundamental shift in their approach.

Mastering the ‘Conscious Doves’

Kenny Toh, one of BRIDGE Singapore’s Client Directors, opened the evening with an opportunity for our guests to slow down. Origami is an ancient and peaceful art which encourages us to be more conscious and aware in the moment. The room fell silent as we all focussed on creating our delicate paper masterpieces (to varying degrees of success!). The resulting ‘Conscious Doves’ set the tone for the evening.


Through a series of guided discussions, personal reflections, and journaling, Kenny brought us on a journey to better understand what consciousness means within the context of leadership. He drew upon BRIDGE’s 30 years of experience working with organisations around the world. For leaders to thrive, we believe they must first be truly aware of themselves and the diverse groups of people they need to engage and influence, as well as what needs to change in their organisations and the world.

Consciousness requires a choice

Consciousness, however, is not enough in isolation. Leaders also need the courage to act on this consciousness to drive change. If you are aware of what needs to change but do not act, then you are merely spectating. If you are a courageous activist, but unconscious of the change that is really needed, you may even be harming. It is only when consciousness meets the courage to act that we see true leadership. Consciousness requires a choice.


Develop a practice of evaluating our level of consciousness

The baton, or at least the microphone, was then handed to BRIDGE Client Director, Mac McKenzie for some practical measures to expand our consciousness. A key method, Mac shared, is to develop a practice or daily habit of evaluating our level of consciousness of what is going on within ourselves and what is it that we are noticing in our external environment. Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness practice are also great ways for developing and maintaining this new-found consciousness.

What does conscious leadership mean to you and your organisations?

After a brief consciousness practice, we transitioned to the highlight of the evening as Carla Henry, Managing Director of BRIDGE Singapore and Australia introduced our energetic panel of speakers. With a combined total of 26 years within their current roles, they filled the room with a platter of experience and perspectives as they each shared what conscious leadership meant to them and their organisations.

“Conscious leadership is a level of deep awareness”, said Sheela Parakkal, Chief Human Resources Officer at Prudential Singapore. According to Sheela, conscious leadership it is not just about awareness of self and what the self is able to do, but the impact one has in the capacity of leadership on everyone around them and on the organisation. It could really be the difference between success and failure. “But becoming a conscious leader doesn’t mean you have to be serious. You can have fun tapping into your consciousness!” she added.

This resonated with PK, Senior Global Brand Director at Unilever. He shared that “Conscious leadership is about two things. It is a mixture of ‘manner’ and ‘meaning’. ‘Manner’ is about how you do things, while ‘meaning’ is why you do them. Without one or the other it doesn’t work. Rather than telling people I sell toothpaste, I tell them I fight for freedom to love globally. It’s much more sexy”.

For Gathoni Wangombe, Regional Talent Director for APAC and Africa at Kellogg’s, it is all about creating change. “Conscious leaders create shifts in the way they behave, and in what they do. But they also shift their organisation’s culture,” Gathoni emphasised.

The evening concluded with a question that invites everyone to put Conscious Leadership into action: “With greater awareness, what courageous actions might you take?”

The Purpose Journey will continue its deep dives into what it means to be a purposeful organisation, with the third and fourth event in the series covering Purposeful Culture and Purpose-Led Strategy and Impact.

Join us on Thursday 6 February, 2020 for the next instalment.

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