Conscious Leadership Book Summary - Conscious Leadership Book explained in key points
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Conscious Leadership summary

John Mackey

Elevating Humanity Through Business

4.4 (119 ratings)
23 mins
Table of Contents

    Conscious Leadership
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    Key idea 1 of 8

    Conscious leadership begins with personal transformation.

    Let’s begin with the story of author John Mackey. 

    In the late 2000s, Mackey arrived in Florida to meet with the Whole Foods Market board of directors. They were going to discuss his future as CEO of the company – and it wasn’t good news. 

    According to the board, Mackey’s work over the past few years had been unsatisfactory. 

    For example, Mackey had tried to create an online initiative for Whole Foods – – which aimed to sell everything from healthy food and supplements to books and clothing. Unfortunately, it was a bust. The board had had enough.

    After he left the meeting, Mackey felt panic-stricken. Was he about to lose everything he’d worked for? 

    Mackey might have felt like this was the end for him as a leader. But, in fact, it was just the beginning.

    The key message here is: Conscious leadership begins with personal transformation. 

    Mackey wandered into some of the local Whole Foods stores in Florida – as he quite often did when he was traveling. He saw aisles lined with an abundance of healthy, natural food, and a number of happy employees chatting to customers.

    This brought him to a realization: making people happy and inspiring them to eat nutritious food was exactly what Whole Foods was all about. It was the reason he had cofounded the company all those years ago. 

    In that moment, Mackey reconnected to his purpose – his “why” for wanting to lead a business that was driven by something more than just money.

    When Mackey met with the board again later that afternoon, he did all he could to prove that he was the person to lead Whole Foods into the new millennium. And he just about pulled it off. 

    To cut a long story short, Mackey was able to keep his job – but he knew he couldn’t be the same leader he’d been before. If he was going to guide Whole Foods into a bright future, he would need to grow and evolve as a conscious leader. That meant embarking upon an “intentional journey” of personal development.

    In the next blinks, we’ll look at the steps you can take to become a conscious leader – including what mindset you need to embody and the qualities you need to cultivate. 

    But first, let’s take a look at the role of business in society – and at how capitalism can be a force for good.

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    What is Conscious Leadership about?

    Conscious Leadership (2020) reveals what it takes to lead a purpose-driven business that sees beyond the bottom line. Drawing on his experience as CEO of one of the largest supermarket chains in the United States, John Mackey shows how leaders can shape their businesses to become more innovative, competitive, and socially responsible.

    Best quote from Conscious Leadership

    Sometimes we need to walk through the wilderness to find a sense of direction.

    —John Mackey
    example alt text

    Who should read Conscious Leadership?

    • Organizations seeking their purpose
    • Business coaches who want to help strengthen leaders, teams, and enterprises
    • HR departments looking to improve their hiring practices

    About the Author

    John Mackey is the cofounder and CEO of Whole Foods Market. He also cofounded the nonprofit organization Conscious Capitalism. 

    Steve McIntosh is the president and cofounder of the Institute for Cultural Evolution, a nonprofit social policy think tank. He has written many books, including Developmental Politics

    Carter Phipps is a writer and speaker who cofounded the Institute for Cultural Evolution along with McIntosh. He was previously the executive editor of EnlightenNext magazine and is the author of Evolutionaries.

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