A Call-to-Action for Conscious Leadership in Online Organizations


Bettyjo Bouchey, MBA, Ed.D., Associate Dean & Associate Professor, College of Professional Studies and Advancement; Director of Online Academics, National Louis University; Megan Kohler, Learning Designer with the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute, Penn State; and Tina Rettler-Pagel, full time faculty member and Chief Online Learning Officer at Madison College

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Mindset Belief Discipline Experience Knowledge Concept

As online leaders, we often find ourselves working with multiple institutional stakeholders in a day–traversing levels, constantly zooming in and zooming out.  It is mainly our pleasure since we work for complex and vibrant communities in our institutions, though we sometimes face competing priorities and differences in leadership orientations, depending on the task we are faced with for the day.  

We love that complexity, we thrive on it, and we spend our days bobbing and weaving the halls of innovation. As such we need to equip ourselves with effective leadership tactics meant to build and sustain cross-functional and matrixed relationships.  

So, what do we do?  Well, historical leadership theories often assume more traditional lines of authority than the emerging nature of online organizations demand, causing newer frameworks to emerge that speak to the importance and need for leading from where you are.  One such framework is that of Conscious LeadershipMore specifically, The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership is a collection of behavior strategies that help focus your positive energy towards meaningful relationships, leading to a greater sense of well-being and performance.  The basic premise is that, at any given time we are either leading at or below the line.  The line is the difference between open to learning and changing (above the line) and being closed off and committed to being right (below the line).  It should be noted that we will often find ourselves below the line and that is okay; the trick to Conscious Leadership is recognizing it so that one can pivot to start behaving above the line.  The 15 Commitments we can make to pivot above the line are the following, and we will discuss what these all look like at Accelerate 2019 this year:

  1. Taking radical responsibility.  You take full responsibility for your life and help others do the same.  
  2. Learning through curiosity.  You view every opportunity, whether positive or negative, as a time to learn about yourself and others.  
  3. Feeling all feelings.  You commit to experiencing your feelings through to completion.
  4. Speaking candidly.  You commit to speaking the truth and allowing others to do the same.
  5. Eliminating gossip.  You commit to ending gossip, as an active and passive participant.
  6. Practicing integrity.  Your personal integrity enables you to meet your commitments and take responsibility for your actions.  
  7. Generating appreciation.  You live in a space of appreciation, able to express it and also receive it.
  8. Excelling in your zone of genius.  You live in your full magnificence and empower others to as well.    
  9. Living a life of play and rest.  You have a life of play, rest, and enjoyment.
  10. Exploring the opposite.  You recognize that your story is simply your story and is as right as the stories of others.  
  11. Sourcing approval, control, and security.  You know you are the source of the three most basic human needs of approval, control, and security.
  12. Having enough of everything.  You are content with what you have.
  13. Experiencing the world as an ally.  You believe that everyone around you is here to help you learn and grow.
  14. Creating win for all solutions.  You spend the time creating a “win” for everyone involved.
  15. Being the resolution.  You see problems as an invitation for you to create a solution.  

Join us for our upcoming Accelerate 2019 workshop on Wednesday, November 23, Becoming a Conscious Online Leader: 15 Commitments to Transform Your Leadership Style, where we will provide you with a platform to discover your conscious leadership abilities, as well as to develop a plan for practicing new ways of communicating and working within your organization that can lead to better outcomes.  You will be engaged in self-assessment, goal-setting, and tactical planning to incorporate the proven methodology of Conscious Leadership into your everyday practice–walking away with a roadmap to collegial, meaningful, and effective relationships with co-workers, team-members, supervisors, and other stakeholders in your institution.  Designed to model an active learning environment, the workshop will be comprised of a mixture of creative activities meant to encourage peer-to-peer interaction, deep reflection, and multimodal engagement. This is a not-to-be-missed workshop this year; mark it on your calendar and we’ll see you Wednesday, November 20th from 9:00AM-12:00PM in Southern Hemisphere 5!  

Dr. Bettyjo Bouchey is Associate Professor of Business and Management and Associate Dean of the College of Professional Studies and Advancement at National Louis University.  She also holds university-wide responsibility for online academics. She is a 2018 IELOL alumni and is co-founder of the Collegiate Online Research Leaders Collaborative (CORAL).  Her research interests span online pedagogy and the effective leadership of the evolving organizational structures of online education in higher education. You can connect with Bettyjo on LinkedIn and Twitter @drbouchey, or via her website at www.drbouchey.com.  

Tina Rettler-Pagel

Tina Rettler-Pagel is a full time faculty member and Chief Online Learning Officer at Madison College in Madison, Wisconsin. She has been engaged in the online teaching and learning space for almost 20 years.  As an online teacher and leader, Tina is an advocate for community college initiatives and the unique needs of community college students. You can connect with Tina on Twitter: @TinaRPagel.

Megan Kohler

Megan Kohler is a Learning Designer with the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute at Penn State. Among her professional accomplishments, she has served as the pedagogical lead on Penn State’s highly-rated Epidemics MOOC and the Penn State Digital Badges Initiative. You can connect with Megan on Twitter @mkohler26 or her website at http://redesigned.info/

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