Conscious systemic leadership (CSL) is a theoretical construct that draws from Shiva consciousness. Systemic leadership (SL) is an emergent phenomenon that draws on synergies and concerted efforts of several people and institutions operating across several places and levels to create a more purposeful and meaningful existence for us. If SL is about shifting the focus from the self to the wider scheme of existence, a consciousness-based approach is necessary. A consciousness-based approach enables us to undergo a mind-shift from the individual to the collective, from short-term to long-term, from rigidity to fluidity, from holding-on to letting-go, and from results-focus to learning-orientation. The philosophy of Shiva is drawn on to understand that consciousness is the substratum of reality, an insight used to build the theoretical construct of CSL. In Shiva consciousness, reality is embodied in our experience of the world through a transcendental and eternal process of fusion and dance of energies between the opposing archetypes of the purusha and prakriti; pure consciousness and the creative force, respectively. Everywhere, in each minute attribute of reality, a “self” is present, which is the universal consciousness of Shiva. CSL demands a set of new thinking and practices to bring this concept to life. With the integration of consciousness, CSL makes a new addition to the field of SL as the first attempt in the literature to draw on perspectives from Shiva philosophy.
The ontology of CSL is that consciousness is fundamental to our existence. I draw from Shiva consciousness to argue that reality arises due to the pulsating dance between archetypical contrarian imperatives—prakasha and vimarsha, linga and yoni, Shiva and Parvati, Shiva and Shakti, purusha and prakriti—that inform the fundamental philosophy of existence. I take “contrarian” to mean opposing and “imperative” to mean something that has a commanding importance. Hence, I use the term “contrarian imperative” to refer to selected dichotomies, inherent in Shiva consciousness as the building blocks of existence. The term Dvandva is fundamental in Sanskrit grammar and refers to compound pairs of opposite words that bring our embodied experience to life through language and expression, thus giving a linguistic turn to this argument.
The epistemology of CSL is realized in the reality of our expansive dimensional domains. Let me explain what I mean by “dimensional domain”. SL is about appreciating our embodied nature, starting with the self, as emergent consciousness. Several other works talk about emergent reality as a hierarchical, progressive notion. However, my notion of the dimensional domains is different: to practice SL, one must undertake the journey of transcending the self through a continual conscious engagement with the boundaries of the emergent system. Boundaries are not pre-decided, but we take an active part in deciding systemic boundaries based on our value judgments. Therefore, boundaries can be contracting or expanding based on our values. We draw them for the convenience of determining our intentional actions to achieve results. Dimensional domains do not indicate a hierarchy or progression. Rather, they indicate the various dimensions of our states of embodied experiences. SL is an engagement within the dimensional domains of intended boundaries within which increasing complexities emerge between the decision maker (who draws the boundaries), resources (that are required to deliver on intended actions), and responsibility (that and those affected by our actions).
A consciousness-based approach will enable systems leaders to undergo a mind-shift from the individual to the collective, from short-term to long-term, from rigidity to fluidity, from holding on to letting go, and from results-focus to learning orientation.