Conscious Leadership: The EQ Edge with Marika Messager


In this episode, we dive into the power of consciousness and emotional intelligence in leadership. Our inspiring guest, Marika Messager, shares her journey from the high-paced financial sector to pioneering the conscious leadership movement. She unpacks the art of truth-telling, the importance of emotional agility, and how breaking the cycle of the old leadership paradigms can lead to more fulfilling, productive work environments. 🌱

Marika Messager

Marika Messager is a Conscious Leader, visionary, teacher, researcher in consciousness, elevating individuals, businesses, and the global community into a new paradigm of positive and purposeful impact.


🔑 Key Themes & Takeaways:

  • Breaking the Cycle: Discover how moving away from traditional leadership paradigms can foster a more authentic, rewarding workplace. Learn from Marika’s transition from financial broker to conscious leader. 💡

  • The Art of Conscious Leadership: Explore the transformative power of mirroring truth and fostering self-awareness among team members. Understand the importance of aligning values for a harmonious workplace. 🎭

  • Emotional Intelligence: Dive into the crucial role of emotional intelligence in leadership. Learn about the cost of emotional numbness and the benefits of being emotionally present and aware. 🧠💖

  • Embracing Vulnerability: Uncover the strength in vulnerability and how personal crises can lead to significant personal growth and higher levels of consciousness. 🛡️

  • Generational Wisdom and Resilience: Discuss the dynamics between different generations in the workplace and how each can contribute to a more resilient and conscious organization. 🔄

  • Practical Emotional Agility: Gain insights into practical tools and exercises to enhance emotional intelligence and resilience, both individually and within teams. 🧘

  • Systemic Change for Better Work Environments: Learn how systemic changes, like adjusting meeting structures and implementing collective self-care practices, can lead to less burnout and higher efficiency. 🌍

We talk about:

  • 2:04 What is conscious leadership and how can it transform a business

  • 4:36 How do you help leaders break the cycle of the status quo

  • 6:40 An example of data or information that leaders can receive in an objective way

  • 18:06 Do you feel like we we have to go through extremely hard moments in order to grow and find this consciousness

  • 21:25 Is the new pattern of people not staying at jobs as long a result from a new level of consciousness?

  • 27:50 How do you help leaders get in touch with their EQ

  • 32:01 How to practice EQ with the collective

  • 40:27 Does Marika use the word ‘conscious’ in her work

  • 42:40 Rapid fire questions

🌈 Closing Thoughts:

By embracing the principles of conscious leadership, we can transform our workplaces into environments where every individual is recognized, valued, and empowered to bring their whole self to work.

Join us in exploring how integrating emotional intelligence and conscious leadership can transform your approach and boost your team’s well-being. We encourage you to share your insights, experiences, or questions.

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Carolyn: Today, we are going to be talking with one of the people who was really at the front of this movement in conscious leadership. Marika Messager owns and operates And this organization she created and leads equips individuals with systems and practices that are needed to really help us create a conscious culture in our businesses.

So I’m going to ask her questions about her background. Um, what brought her into this work? Marika had a very, very successful, um, a career in the. In the financial industry and had some very, very big success there. And so I’m curious to know how did she shift out of that environment, that really competitive environment into a place of more consciousness.

And as I said, she’s been doing this work with her organization for over a decade now. Let’s see where this conversation goes. I hope you stay with us and enjoy it.

Welcome evolve listeners and watchers. We’ve got another amazing episode of evolve, a new era of leadership. And today my guest is, uh, she specializes in the area of conscious. Leadership. And I’m so excited to talk to her. Marika Messager, welcome to the show.

Marika: Thank you, Caroline. I’m very happy to be with you today.

Carolyn: Yeah. Now, we’re just going to get like right in it, um, right, right into it. I’d love to hear, um, you know, you’ve had all this experience. You really, I think, been trailblazing this notion of conscious leadership and, and the power of self awareness. And so can you just describe to us what that means and how it transforms how we do business?

We’re getting right into it right away. Mm

Marika: Okay, good. Um, so yeah, you know, um, I always say that I do a few things, but one of them is to research and teach consciousness, right? Which is one dimension on its own. Um, and then how do we apply that? Consciousness to leadership and to business, which you know, is another dimension. So I’m quite happy that you are, you know, raising that that element from the start, you know, becoming conscious is something that truly every human being want to be doing, right?

It’s a path of evolution that, you know, of course, involves self awareness, emotional leadership. Intelligence, intuitive intelligence, systemic intelligence, all of that, right. And this is for, you know, really every human being on the planet. Um, and, and what happens is that as we, as one becomes more conscious, uh, you know, one also starts to question.

Um, some ways of doing things, right? Some behaviors, some intentions, um, at the level of the self and then at the level of the organization they work in or they work for or their lead. Uh, and then at the level of the system, which is, you know, the system we all live in. Um, so the beauty is that when you become more conscious of, you know, Your your own inner distortions, right?

Or your lack of emotional agility or your inability to respond to situations in a way you’re proud of. And you do that work of self information. And then you start working in different ways. You start relating with people in different ways. And you also start to, um, long for systems, procedures, practices.

That are going to enable, um, you know, basically the doing good in a good way, right? Um, which then translates in, you know, organization that, you know, have an impact or impact or purpose driven and therefore can role model some systemic change for, for the world in general. So, you know, it’s, um, it’s a journey of, of, uh, different elements kind of working together and being enmeshed and influencing one another.

Carolyn: Yeah. And that’s what I, that’s where, um, I wanted to pick up. They really do influence each other because as you said, once we go into that, that space on our own, in ourself, we then impact our team and then we can impact the system. Now, I know it’s no secret to both you and I, and probably people listening to us that we can get sort of stuck in a system and having to act and perform and, uh, do things that sort of keep the status quo going. So I’m curious in your work, how you help leaders break that cycle and recognize it as scary as it seems it really will lead to better results. Hmm.

Marika: Um, you know, I think consciousness is a, is an art of truth. Uh, and so how do we create consciousness by actually being mirrors of truth, right? So the more I can embody my truth and share my truth and speak my truth, the more I am embodying a conscious leader. But it’s also my role as a conscious leader to mirror the, you know, what, what people are showing to me.

Right. And so if I’m being shown any form of inauthenticity, lack of honesty, lack of integrity, lack of accountability, if I’m being showed unhealthy behaviors, I am going to mirror them to the people I work with. Right. So there is an art in doing that. Um, transformation is an art. And, and, you know, we need to gather data.

We need to gather enough information so that we can really show the patterns. We can really state the facts, right? So there is no emotion in that process. It’s like, you know, this is what I’ve observed. So it’s more like a factual thing. And, and this is the patterns that I’m seeing in the way you do things.

Carolyn: Wow.

Marika: those patterns are unhealthy or distorted or toxic, right, whichever, wherever we are on the system, on the scale, you know, on the, on the, because, you know, toxicity is a, is a spectrum, right? Um, and then I can give people the opportunity to change those behaviors into healthy ones by mirroring what is healthy and what is unhealthy, right?

And then it’s for people to choose. Right. So I’m I’m I have no control over how they’re going to respond to me. I have no control over the choice they’re going to make. All I can do is offer them the choice.

Carolyn: Wow. And, and so they, giving them the data and the information, what would be an example of that? Right. Cause a lot of this would be like relational and people are going to see these, um, relationships through different lenses, depending on how self aware they are. So, um, I’m curious to hear what does some of this data look like that allows them to receive it in an objective way and to make a truly informed choice?

Hmm. Hmm.

Marika: Yeah. Um, so it’s very important to look at, um, the way people respond to situations, right? How they communicate, uh, how they act upon their communication. So, for me, I always look for alignment between the thoughts, the words, and the action. If there is a lack of alignment between what you say and what you, you do, I have an issue there.

Right. It means that there is a form of distortion. So I’m going to dig deeper into that. Right. And, and, and, and start to really understand, is this something that’s happening quite often? Um, why does it happen? Uh, what can we do about it? Right. But that, that’s clearly an element and then how things are communicated, you know, because we can also, um, so, so that’s an example, but I’ll give you another one.

Like, you know, let’s say in project management. We agree on something, right? So when we agree on something is that what are your needs? What are your wants? What are my needs? What are my wants? What is the value that we both bring? And what is it that we agree on doing together, right? What is the, the, the, the deal of co creation, right?

But we agree to do things in a certain way, according to certain values. So there is a lot of, Of, um, well, that goes into the process of creation before we create right. So in the agreement part, um, if, if there is a lack of, if we can’t follow, if we have a deadline and we cannot honor the deadline, how is this going to be communicated?

What are we going to do about it? Right? So all those things are, are things that actually need to be established as we enter a collaboration. And then we see what happens. Right? If the agreement is not respected, how is this being addressed? Is this being addressed with respect and transparency and accountability?

Or, you know, is the person who is not delivering running away from responsibility, being manipulative, being secretive, um, all of that, right? Or, um, or not owning their mistakes. Um, so it’s all those things where, where we can really call upon. Um, some form of inauthenticity or unaccountability or lack of responsibility are clearly some, uh, some elements where we can ask for change and ask for transformation, but we have to agree on those elements, right?

We have to agree that this is how we want to do things.

Carolyn: And that’s the piece that, um, I’m finding is so, is so transformational when, when people can recognize that setting up the space, um, metaphorical space within which we are going to do this work is really, really vital and, and not just like getting right down into doing what we think we need to do.

Marika: Yeah, and you know, this is something I’m talking a lot about these days. It’s like we have to bring consciousness to the vibration of our creation, right? So the how I’m going to create is very important. You know, there is the what, what am I creating? Why am I creating it? And how am I creating it? And so You know, in our system, there is a lot of emphasis on the what, what am I creating, right?

The end result. The why is very adamant because, you know, it’s why I wake up in the morning. It’s, you know, the drive and all of that. But the how we do things, which is based on who we are and our core values for me is what really matters these days, because this is giving us the discernment to know who are my co creating with.

Carolyn: Yes.

Marika: All right. And so if the how, if we’re not aligned in terms of the values and we don’t have the same self awareness and level of consciousness, there is going to be a lot of friction in the how we do things. So the more we pay attention to the alignment on how we do things, the more we can really assess if we’re a good fit or not, or the transformation in the world that is required for the friction to become a flow.

Carolyn: Yeah. Well, and now I know, um, you spent a number of years in a very successful financial, um, in a financial role. And I’m curious what helped you recognize this importance of consciousness, because that’s not usually two fields that, um, are always in alignment, um, you know, financial, the financial system, uh, with the level of consciousness.

So can you just tell us a little bit more about your story and how you got here?

Marika: sure. And, you know, I think it was, uh, it was a set up for the work I’m doing now because I really got to see a lot of distortion, you know, and, and, and also to see the influence of the system on, on one individual, right? So when I started this work, I mean, I worked 15 years in finance on a trading floor and at the end, I was head of equities for Europe and Middle East, you know, for French banks.

So I was managing a lot of people and, um, And I started, I was probably 24 right after my studies, so I was completely new to anything, you know, management, leadership. And so the way I approach things is that I was observing what was being shown to me in this system that is the financial industry and the trading floor, and taking that as the truth of, you know, what it means to manage and what it means to lead and what it means to be successful.

So what does what I was being shown is that you have to be strong. You have to compete. You have to dominate. Um, you know, there is a it’s it’s really like it’s a jungle and you know, you have to be the strongest and you have to fight, right? Um, and I was quite good at that. So, you know, I did it. I did it this way and I was successful and, you know, but I was really working hard.

So a lot of my success was also due to the fact that, you know, I was, I was. It’s hard working. Um, but when I was 28, I had a crisis in my family. And, and, you know, I had to start working on myself for personal reasons. So I started as a Parisian 20 years ago, you know, I saw a therapist, which was pretty much the only, you know, way I knew that I could work on myself and, and then I’ve never stopped.

So it’s been 20 years of self development, just because now I understand that it’s, it’s a perpetual evolution, right? Yeah. But so as I was doing so, I was, I was changing, you know, I was learning new ways of being, I started yoga and meditation, you know, very early on, so I could see that I was slightly changing my behaviors, right?

So, for instance, on the trading floor, when there is Uh, when your computer breaks down, it’s a big problem, right? Because you’re trading. So basically you can lose money like that, right? So what I’ve, what I saw my whole career was that, you know, when your computer shuts down, everybody’s like, it’s shouting at the poor tech guy.

And, and there is a lot of, you know, kind of masculinity and this and come here right now. So I was doing that, you know, and, um, and then after doing yoga and meditation and I was pregnant, I became a mother, I was like. Oh, I, you know, it’s just, it’s tiring to be this way to start with. And is it the most efficient way?

Right. So I started to play a little bit with my behaviors and I was calling the guy and say, hi, I’m hi, how are you? It is, I’ve got a problem with my computer. It’s quite urgent. I mean, and you know, it was working as well. Like the guy was showing up and he was doing a job, you know, and I was like, okay, maybe, maybe there are other ways to do things, um, to start with.

You know, those ways are going to ask less energy of, you know, they’re going to ask me to be less in this warrior mode all the time, which, quite frankly, I was, I was becoming tired of, you know, um, and so I started, you know, implementing that and, and it was interesting as well from a collaborative perspective, because When you’re a broker, you eat what you kill, right?

So basically the revenue I bring, I have a clear percentage on it. So it’s very hard to get people to collaborate, you know, because it’s like, okay, but you know, then who gets what? So I’ve had all these conversations and I was like, gosh, how am I gonna, you know, Make those people understand that it’s better to have 30% of 100 than 100 of zero, but we need to work together because some accounts are too big for one person.

So it was all those reflections, and I could see the resistance within the system for people to collaborate, for people to treat one another well, and not to be always in that competitive environment. So it got me thinking a lot, you know, around this whole paradigm of leadership. And then, um. Nine years ago or 10 years ago, I was doing an initiation in a shamanic lineage of Mexican healers, so I spent a month in the forest in South America and we were, it was a very tough initiation, like it was from 6 a.m. until midnight. And one day we had to break some wooden boards with our hands. I mean, we did loads of crazy things. Um, but I kind of knew I was not going to be able to do it. And so I, I was expecting, you know, that I was going to fail. Um, which I was okay with, but you know, the image that I had. Given the whole the whole throughout the whole course was the image of somebody who is very composed very strong Who’s got her shit together, right?

And so when that exercise arrived, you know, I I didn’t break the thing I I managed to break it after three attempts but at the second attempt my whole body went into like, you know shaking and crying and so Yeah, and I couldn’t control anything and, um, you know, I am strong enough after 15 years on the trading floor to know that you don’t cry on the trading floor.

So I can have my shit together, right? But this this was happening and it was You know, I was, I was deep in my healing enough to understand that I just had to be with it, right? And anyway, this third attempt, I, I managed to break the, the wooden board. And so the teacher, like, hugged me and everybody was clapping and, but there was one woman who came to see me and, and she was older than me and, you know, we were doing the training together and I respected her a lot.

And she came and she said to me, Marika, I would follow you anywhere and everywhere. And I was shocked, you know, I was like, wow, so it’s the day I break down. I That she sees a leader in me. That’s weird. You know, this is not what I’ve been taught at all. So I had to stay with that. And, and, and, you know, shortly after I created, which, you know, was very early on, um, in, in the journey of conscious leadership, because I really realized that. Everything I had been told, you know, that, you know, was making a good leader was actually not right. First, it was not true leadership. And second, it was creating a system like an ecosystem that was not, um, you know, honoring the potential of individuals, organizations and collaborations.

So this is how I started, um, conscious leadership.

Carolyn: What an amazing story. Um, you know, it sounds like there were, there was some, uh, moments along that journey that really allowed you to question. The truth around you. And do you believe, because now, I mean, I know you’re working with, with, uh, large organizations now to bring this conscious leadership aspect into their organizations.

You indicated that there was something that happened in your, in your, in your life that. which made you look inward. Do you believe that, that we as humans on our consciousness pathways are healing pathways? Do you believe that we have to have those moments? Or do you think that there is a way that we can heal for lack of a better word and become more conscious without having these?

Holy shit. My life is not where I thought it was moments.

Marika: Yeah, and you know, it’s a good question. And unfortunately, I think the answer is that, you know, there needs to be a certain level of of crisis mode for one to change. Um, I would say I’ve never seen somebody getting from one level of consciousness to the next level of consciousness without going through some form of dark episode within themselves or their lives.


Carolyn: Yeah. And, and

Marika: other words, yeah, go ahead.

Carolyn: well, no, I was going to say, like, sometimes this, this can be personal. But, um, my belief is, is that we’re seeing more and more pain and suffering and, um, I guess reason for people to look inward, would you, would you agree with that?

Marika: Yeah, for sure. And, you know, I think the pandemic has really triggered that, you know, inside of individuals. Um, first, there was some people were forced to be with themselves for the first time ever in their lives, right? Um, and for a lot of people, it was highly confronting. And highly triggering to be forced to be with their emotions, right?

Because they, you know, there is in our system. There is a lot of numbing and running away from ourselves. Um, so that kind of started the process. Um, where also I’ve seen, you know, um, a crisis of meaning. A lot of people have been questioning the meaning of the way they lead their lives. Um, so, you know, the pandemic has also.

Kind of, uh, shaken, uh, the foundations of, uh, upon which we, we have been building our lives, right? The values and what really matters. Um, so this has triggered a lot and, and now, you know, there is clearly a crisis in organizations, right? The way we work on it, working anymore. Um, and there is a lot of data, but you know, like, uh, 80 percent of employees are disengaged.

Uh, 70 percent of knowledge workers have had burnout over the last 12 months. Um, you know, I think it’s like again, 80 percent of employees feel disengaged with, um, or don’t connect with the why of the organization or the purpose of the organization. Um, you know, hybrid work is something that hasn’t really been cracked, right?

How do we make hybrid work work? So there is clearly a crisis in the way we work and the understanding that we need to create new organizations. Um, we knew the future of work. Um, and, and it’s clearly, it’s quite interesting because I see three types of organizations, like the one that really see that, you know, the need for innovative in organized organizations and ways of working.

The ones that, you know, see that there is a need for change and they’re kind of, you know, dancing with it and the ones that are really holding back to the old system, you know, and so I call I call these ones vintage, but, you know,

Carolyn: a nice, that’s a nice term.

Marika: It’s a nice way to see it, right? Um, but so it’s that’s the reality we’re dealing with, you know, and again, it’s a choice as an individual as an organization, you know, what spectrum and, um, and as an individual, you know, which organization do I choose to work for is more and more very important choice.


Carolyn: And do you think that that is, uh, that is. Behind the, the movement and like the, this, this talent, um, desire to get good talent, but they’re not, and they’re not staying in jobs as long as they used to. I don’t have any stats at the tip of my fingers. Um, but I know that that, that is a pattern that we’re seeing.

Do you think that’s connected to the level of consciousness?

Marika: So. Yes, I know. I think that there is clearly somewhere to do for organization to attract and retain talents. You know, there are some levers that can be activated to work on that. But there is also generational complexity where, you know, the there is a Commitment has become something that is not valued anymore.

And we see that, you know, both in, in personal and professional lives, uh, you know, with the online dating and all of that, like, and, and, you know, I mean, I’m 48. I, when I was, when I was kissing a guy in my younger years, we kind of were together. We didn’t know if it was going to last two days or a week or months or years, but we were together right now.

It’s like, We’re not committed. You know, until we say we are, we are not right. Um, and it’s a little bit the same with organizations. It’s like, you know, the moment it gets difficult. People make another choice because there are so many options, right? So optionality has skilled commitment and has skilled loyalty, um, and devotion to a certain extent, right?

Um, so I think we need to find the right balance, you know, as, as I say, we always polarities in things, you know? Um, but, uh, I, I see a lot of people who are in the, you know, early thirties and I see some CVs and, and I don’t know, in the space of six years, they’ve been in like 15 organizations or startups. And I’m like, I’m not going to hire you because you know, it’s just going to be too much of an investment and you’re just going to stay there for six months, you know, so

Carolyn: And, and that’s, that, that’s a real difference than, you know, I’m guessing you’re, I think you’re in Gen X with me where we were around, I mean, I remember being at retirement parties for people who’d been at companies for 30, 40 years. Um, and there was a real trade off, right? It was this social contract, you know, I’m going to bring you good work.

I will be loyal and do work at all hours, all times. And now it’s like, no, that’s not, that’s not, that’s not the trade off. Um, So, I guess one of the questions that comes up for me is, you know, all of these generations are finding consciousness in their own way.

Marika: yeah,

Carolyn: Um, so we’re not saying that one generation is more conscious than the other.

I think that’s one thing that, um, You know, the, the Gen Z or Gen Z, um, I don’t think they’re any more conscious, but how they’re finding their pathway is going to be a little bit different and it’s taking place. It’s unfolding in the workplace. And so we’re going to see different levels of reactivity, right.

To these different thought patterns and how we’re showing up.

Marika: yeah. And, and, you know, for the first time ever, we have five different generations in one organization that that’s huge, right? When, when you think about, uh, generational gaps and, and, and all of that, but, but I fully agree that every, every generation is finding consciousness in their own way. Yeah. Um, you know, my observation is that my generation is is not as conscious as the younger generation most of the time.

But yet we have wisdom, we have experience, you know, and that has value. Um, the thing is that, you know, the Internet and AI have completely, um, Normalize like, you know, knowledge has become a commodity on so on for some of the younger generations. All they see in us is knowledge which they don’t value on.

They see ways of living life that they don’t want to be like us. So it creates a separation that is preventing us to actually transmit wisdom because wisdom comes from, you know, all the experience that we’ve had. Um, and I’ve, I’ve seen that a lot during the pandemic because I think, you know, my generation, we are People are generation. We have a lot of resilience, right? We’ve been through. We’ve seen a lot of things, right, which for some of us has given us the opportunity to develop resilience and that younger generation. They don’t have much resilience. And, you know, this lack of commitment is not helping, right?

Because they don’t go through the hardships that build resilience. And so there is really a question here that I’m talking a lot, you know, about with my clients. It’s like, how do we transmit some of that resilience, but also how can we think about creating systems that are going to be asking less resilience from the people in the system, right?

So it’s basically Um, you know, taking the truth of those two generations and finding a balance, right? Because they don’t want to be as resilient. They don’t want to be like us. They think we work too much, right? They think we don’t have. But at the same time, you know that resilience that we have built is useful for anyone in life.

So how do we find, you know, a place where we can meet and we can exchange and maybe find a new way. Coming from those two ways. You

Carolyn: Yeah, that’s really, that’s really interesting. Do you equate high resilience with high consciousness? Like, can, can one be a conscious leader but not be a resilient leader? Or do you have to be conscious to be resilient?

Marika: Yeah. Um, it’s a very good question. And for me, um, resilience is part of conscious leadership. Why? Because to be a conscious leader, you need to have emotional agility. You need to have emotional mastery, right? Which is a pillar of resilience, which is basically the ability to You know, uh, be triggered, but come back to your center quite quickly so that you can address the situation from a place of neutrality.

You know, this is a big dimension of resilience.

Carolyn: Yeah. And so, so now if we come back to, um, emotional intelligence, emotional literacy, getting in touch with our emotions, that’s something that our generation was not taught, right? We don’t really have that. And I would say, uh, that, you know, these, these younger generations come up, perhaps have been exposed to, to more discussion about it.

I don’t know if it’s, Well, I don’t have any data to say they’re any more in touch with their emotions and maybe our generation is, um, I’m curious when you work with leaders, how do you help them get in touch with that element, that piece of themselves, those emotions? Because traditionally it’s like, Hey, we don’t need that.

And you’ve already shared some examples like, Oh, don’t bring that emotion into the trading floor.

Marika: exactly. Right. And, uh, and for me, it’s been, uh, it’s been a big part of my own journey, you know, reconnecting with my emotions and, uh, and, you know, the ability to feel, um, and that’s, you know, something I teach a lot. And, uh, it’s quite funny to be frank, especially with men, because. That’s something we, you know, I bring to the table quite quickly, right?

Emotional intelligence. And how does one develop that? And, uh, you know, a lot of senior executive, um, and men, especially they’re, they look at me and they’re like, how do we do this? And, uh, what’s going to happen? Right. Because it’s like, Oh my God, if I start to feel, am I going to break down in the middle of a meeting?

Right. Um, so it’s, uh, it’s, it’s an interesting question. Um. For me, the way I work is that there is a lot of, um, teaching and there is a lot of, you know, it’s like education and transformation and they come in stages, right? Um, so there is a lot of Teachings around, you know, why we need to be emotional intelligence.

What is emotional intelligence? And, and more than that, what’s the cost of not being emotionally intelligent? Right. And um, something I see a lot is that, you know, senior executives, a lot of them are just. Sometimes very successful, but end up in a place where they lack joy, they lack enthusiasm. Um, and they don’t understand why, right?

So it’s like, I don’t, I don’t get it. I’m ticking all the boxes. I’ve got this and this and this and this, but I feel flat. I feel numb. And this is because of this process of, you know, having to be so strong in this old paradigm of leadership, which means emotionally numb, where you completely numb yourself.

Right. But the thing is, if you are not feeling anger or sadness or shame or guilt, the heart is a muscle. So you’re not going to feel the positive emotions neither.

Carolyn: Right,

Marika: So it’s a muscle. If I don’t practice that muscle or if I tell that muscle not to work, well, it’s not going to work. So I’m not going to feel the beautiful emotions and elevated emotions of joy and peace and harmony.

But more than anything, I’m going to be in my head all the time. Right. I’m going to make all my decisions with my mental body and my emotional inner compass, which is actually one of our powerful decision makers is not going to be functioning. So it really sucks, to be honest, not to have emotional intelligence.

And, you know, and then I can also say that. You know, you can be intellectually very intelligent and be successful to a certain point in your career, but if you don’t have emotional intelligence, you’re going to be kept at some point, and that is very, you know, tangible. So that’s the first thing to really show people that they actually need to work on their emotional intentions, right?

And so that is giving them when we say that their mind is already kind of giving themselves permission. To start to feel again, right? Um, and then there is a whole another dimension, but you know, it’s like we have to give ourselves permission to feel and then we have to understand that language because it’s a language.

It’s like learning a new language, right? And emotion is the language of vibration. So we need to start understanding that, you know, and what are the tools in order to support me? You know, be emotionally agile and master my emotions. Um, and and so, you know, then we also have to look at our past, right?

Because we all have an emotional backpack with all our, you know, all our history, uh, that we know we need to look at and we need to clean and we need to release some of that because otherwise it’s gonna come. What happens in the day that today is going to come echoing with what’s in my backpack, which is going to basically, uh, damage my emotional center.

So, you know, there, there is a lot to do, but it’s, um, it’s a smooth process, but the key is to feel, you know, as you were saying, I know a lot of Gen Z who have read a lot about emotional intelligence on Instagram or in books or, you know, YouTube, but they are not emotional intelligence. Because they they don’t practice it, you

Carolyn: right. Exactly. And, and how, how do you get teams to practice this emotional resilience, um, so that they can collectively experience it versus just have it be individual activities?

Marika: Yeah. Well, you know, everything is a system. So an individual is a system and then a team is another system. So I look at things from a systemic angle. Um, and, and, you know, Individuals need to practice resilience themselves. Um, and then the group, uh, needs to create a system that is going to enable, um, actually less resilience.

So what I mean by that is that how can we think as teams, uh, In terms of procedures, practices and system that are actually going to ask individuals to be less resilient.

Carolyn: Hmm. Can you say more about that? What, what, what being an example perhaps that you’ve used with a client?

Marika: Well, you know, if, if you, um, let’s say, which happens in a lot of organizations these days, right? A lot of people are back to back more than ever in their meetings, right? Uh, and now that it’s online and that in zoom, it’s, it’s even, it’s even more. It’s even worse in a way because you know, you’re, you don’t have to go from one place to another or you from one room to another, you’re in front of your computer.

So you can be back to back all the time. This is too much, right? This is simply too much. Um, it’s not, um, you know, it also, we have to understand that. You know, the world has changed. So it’s VUCA, right? It’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. And so we need as human beings to really understand that we need to support ourselves in order to function in this new world with some new self care routines and practices, right?

But for instance, all those back to back meetings are just too much. So can we look at that from a systemic point of view and, and decide as a community, you know, what are we going to implement? Uh, you know, I’ve seen some organizations that work with, you know, kind of have a five minute meditation as a mandatory practice for any meetings that’s over 45 minutes.

Carolyn: Hmm.

Marika: So that gives you a breather, you know, even if you’re back to back, if you start your meeting like that, it gives you a breather. So that’s an example of something that can be implemented in the system that is going to support individuals with their own self care. Individually and collectively so that they are not being asked to be so resilient because the system gives this gives them resilience.

Carolyn: Right. I gotcha. So that’s why we’re asking them not to be the, well, we’re asking them to be resilient by participating in the system resilience,

Marika: Yeah, it’s like, you know, we are, I mean, resilience. Don’t get me wrong is something that is very valuable. Uh, you know, that is very important as for anyone, you know, leader or human person, right? Um, so I don’t want to downplay the value of resilience. But what I’m saying is that. You know, can we create some systems that are going to be resilience giver, rather than resilience takers?

Carolyn: Like transferring the burden of trying to carry all the resilience on the individual. Um, so transfer some of that burden to a collective, a team, or even the entire organization.

Marika: Yeah, exactly. You know, and, uh, let’s say if, you know what I see as well, you know, we, we see a lot of cultures that are drama cultures, right? Where there is a lot of, you know, the conversations do escalate. Uh, there might be some gossiping, all of that. This is not healthy. This is not supportive of performance.

Right? Um, but if we actually give some tools to every member of that organization to navigate conversations better, for instance, right, to navigate conflict, um, then we are actually creating a system with a common language and common tools so that. Every individual is normally more equipped to have more of those those healthy conversation.

This is again when we’re working on the system, because if I’m if I’m only one person to do that, you know, it’s going to be much, much less efficient. That is, if every person in my team has that information and that. That’s for me. That training, for instance, right? Because then we’re going to have some collective tools and practices that are going to support us work better together.

Carolyn: Right. Marika, is there, um, an example just to, to close out this conversations gone by so quickly, but could you share with the listeners, um, an example of an organization you worked with and maybe like a few of the phases they went through, uh, to become higher functioning, uh, and we’ll say more conscious.


Marika: you know, it’s, um, for me, consciousness is, uh, is something that is ever evolving, right? So as much as I respect that, I always have, there is not a one size fits all. Right. Uh, in order to shift a culture, you know, shifting the culture of an organization doesn’t happen overnight. Um, and it takes time.

So what I see is that, uh, first. There needs to be a recognition from the leaders, the leadership team that, you know, they want to change the culture, right? So they need to start doing the work because they are going to be role model ambassadors of that culture. If the leadership doesn’t embody, The, the culture that we want to create or work towards embodying that, or even agrees with the fact that we wanna shift the culture.

There is no point doing the work. It’s not gonna, it’s not gonna work. Right. Um, so this is the first step. Um, you know, and here the way, the way we work at Conscious Leader is mostly it’s gonna be one-on-one with like the CEO or you know, the, the top founders. And then we cascade that to the leadership team, right?

Where actually the leadership team. You know, start to have the tools to be conscious leaders, and we start to implement some reflections around, you know, the system, the governance, the structures that we need to put in place so that it is supportive of conscious leadership within the organization. Right.

And then we bring that down to all employees within the organization. Uh, you know, and this is one of the products that, you know, I’m launching right now that’s called a conscious library, which is actually that it’s like a tool for every employee within an organization to grow. Right. So, so that, you know, culture is being transformed at every level within the organization.

You know, from the top and from the bottom and in the middle, right? We we really want to have an impact, but it’s just it’s a it’s different tools and different ways of working, uh, in order to actually implement that within the whole organization. Um, but then it’s quite magical. What happens because, uh, it’s quite surprising in a way, you know, uh, um, when you give every employee within an organization the ability to, to be more self-aware, to be more emotionally intelligent, you, you start to see the people who want to grow, you start to see them grow, right?

Which, which for a manager is fantastic because you, you see the people who are basically raising their hands and say, Hey, count on me. I want more. You know, I, I wanna be more, I wanna do more. Um, but you also see. Some different conversations happening, uh, you know, with, uh, I don’t know, some employee having some conversation with, with one of the top leaders on, on the training that has happened, you know, so it completely shifts the dynamic within the organization where actually.

Consciousness starts to be valued, and therefore the people who embody that culture, those values, those practices, start to stand, you know, to, to, what’s the word, to stand, uh, to stand apart, or to be, to be seen more, right,

Carolyn: Right. Right. Yep.

Marika: and recognized more, and valued more, and appreciated more, um, and so it kind of shifts What really matters, you know, from so yes, performance always matters, but you know, we start to kind of bring into the organization.

The fact that actually being conscious and being being a good human being right that is self aware that, you know, wants to do things in the right way is valued. And, um, and that creates a lot of magic, actually, you know, with, with teams and organizing and yeah,

Carolyn: Yeah. Well, I mean, I see it comes out in confidence, right? In the confidence and presence. Um, do you use the word conscious? Is that a word that, um, permeates through all of that work with your leaders or does that word sometimes do they say, Oh, Marika, don’t use that word. Can we use a different word?

Marika: no conscious is, is, is, is, and even more now, it’s a very okay word. Uh, the word I never use is spirituality. Um, I’m very careful with my language. Uh, I’ve always been, and, you know, it has proven important. Um, but, you know, I would say for instance. intelligence, um, things like that, but conscious, actually conscious leadership, conscious organization, conscious culture is a world that is, you know, our words that are very well received.

Um, and I would say over the last six months, I have really seen a change, uh, you know, so I’ve done this for 10 years and I can tell you 10 years ago, people were Thought I was crazy. Completely crazy. Uh, now, you know, so there was a lot of education in my process, in my sales process, a lot, like sometimes with 80 percent of education around why we need a new paradigm of leadership, blah, blah, blah.

Now I don’t need to do that anymore. It’s just like it’s there, like people see that there is a need, uh, that there is, uh, you know, clearly a need to change things and they are curious about potential solutions.

Carolyn: Yeah. And where could our listeners find out more about you and your organizations?

Marika: Sure. So,

Carolyn: and work that

Marika: yes. Uh, so you can find more on our website, ConsciousLeadership. org. Um, there is a lot there in terms of, you know, free resources as well. If you want to have a little taster on Conscious Leadership. And then you can also follow me on Marika Messager. Uh, we share a lot of content as well on both platforms.

Um, so that’s, that’s mainly it. And we have a monthly newsletter that you can register for on the website. And, you know, if you want to have a conversation, you can get in touch with me through the website.

Carolyn: Perfect. Well, we are going to make sure that we have all those links and, uh, social, um, social, uh, connections available on our show notes. And it’s now that time in the show where we go to the three questions that I ask every guest. Are you, are you game?

Marika: I am.

Carolyn: All right. So these have to do with, uh, three elements that I think, um, keeps our level of consciousness, um, elevated.

The first one is around self awareness. And so I always ask guests about an anecdote that you’re comfortable sharing or a short little story that helped you. Elevate your self awareness to a whole new level. One of those moments where it was like, whoa, I did not realize that.

Marika: Okay. So I’ve got so many, but actually I’m going to share one that I recently shared with a client and it was, uh, it was interesting. Um, so it’s, it’s around the energy of seduction, right? Um, and, um, so I grew up in, uh, You know, with the French father, who was very much like the old paradigm of, I mean, very typically like he would be 92 today.

So, you know, uh, that generation of French men, uh, where, uh, you know, um, so, and, and he basically, um. taught me seduction since I was born, right? Because that was his way of being and behave and behaving. So it’s almost like it was on autopilot for me in my energy, right? So that there was the only way I knew to operate with men and women, right?

Um, and so when I started working in finance, you know, I was carrying that energy with me, but at the same time, I didn’t want to use that energy. I wanted to be respected and valued for the work that I was doing. And this was very important for me. You know, I was like, I, I’d want to be successful because I look good.

I want to be successful because I, you know, I bring value. So I was kind of fighting this fight, uh, internally. And, uh, and then one day I was, uh, I was having lunch with a very, very good friend of mine who was also working with me in the organization I was in. And he was head of Dubai, and I was head of, you know, equities for EMEA so we had some, you know, uh, business to do together, right?

And so, we were having lunch as friends, um, and then we had, we had to have a conversation around business. And so, we started the business conversation, and, um, It was kind of a tough one, you know, like, uh, to get to an agreement was not easy. And at some point I smiled and I made a joke. And he said to me, and he’s a very good friend of mine, he said to me, Marika, you can’t smile.

I was like, what do you mean you can’t smile? He said, no, no, you can’t smile at me right now. And I was like, what? You know? And he said, yes, because if you smile Now I’m going to lower my right. I’m going to think that, you know, we’re in the friend zone and all, you know, that I can be vulnerable and, and, and I can’t lower my guard right now because we actually doing a business negotiation.

And if I lower my guard, I’m not going to put a good deal. So I was like, okay, um, I see that. And then he said to me, but you know what, I know you, and I know you’re a great business woman. I know you work really hard and I know that, you know, you deserve respect for who you are and how you do things, but the fact that you’re smiling.

Means that you are using seduction to, to basically do a business deal and it’s not serving you neither, because it’s like taking away all that credibility and legitimacy that you should have because you’re great at what you do. I was like, right, . And so that was, that was something very powerful for me because then I started to be conscious about my seduction energy and I was like, okay, I can see that it’s not serving me to operate from that place.

It’s on autopilot. So I’m going to bring control over it and I’m going to have a button to turn it off or turn it on. Right. And that really started a big, big reflection on, on, you know, how we do business and, and looking for compatibility and through transparency and honesty, rather than, you know, seduce.

And, you know, if we think about, uh, that’s a long answer, right. For, for your question.

Carolyn: no, but it’s a beautiful, it’s a beautiful example, though, of, of self awareness and how it comes to us in these moments. And we can choose to pay attention to it or not, right? Because you could have answered like, Whatever person, um, like just like, are we in this deal or not, but the ability to take and think about it.

And then now you have the ability to discern and to choose when you’re going to use it or not. Yeah, it’s a great, it’s a great example.

Marika: Yeah.

Carolyn: So, uh, the next question has to do with. Um, a little bit more about emotions and, and regulations, um, but more about like routines or rituals that you have to help you keep, um, in a place of calm so that you can process and, and integrate all this data.

Marika: Yeah. So I have a big, big toolbox, right? Of self care routines, um, that I tap into depending on what I need. So I’m very conscious of, you know, what I need in order to vibrate the highest possible. Um, and, and what I need in certain moments, right? So, Um, and I’ve got some emergency tools. I’ve got some kind of midterm tools and long term tools.

Um, what is really necessary for me is to exercise. So it depends. Right now I swim once a week. Um, that’s very important for me. Um, I do yoga quite frequently as well. So sometimes more than others right now I’m not doing so much. Uh, but you know, I, I meditate, I, I go, I, I need nature a lot. Um, so I live in London.

not always easy and you know, it’s raining and it’s dark, but I know what I need, right? And then I, what can I give myself in that precise moment? Um, so I play with that. But then another thing I would say is that I need a lot of time just to reflect. Um, and you know, maybe that’s the main difference between who I was as a leader.

15 years, and who I am now is that I take a lot of time to, to reflect, to feel, to process things, um, because I, I know exactly what alignment feels like. And so when I’m out of alignment, I know and, and, and therefore I do what I need to do to come back into alignment before I make a decision, before I take an action before I say something.

Um, so there is a lot of consciousness around. place of emotional centeredness. Um, and when I’m out of it, my focus is to come back to it really more than anything else.

Carolyn: I love what you say about the emergency ones, the emergency ones, the short term and then some of the longer term ones. Yeah, that’s, that’s really interesting. Now my last question, uh, is more about our connection with each other and this notion of co regulation and how we’re all interconnected. And I like to bring in a little, uh, a little lens of music.

So my question for you is, What is a song or genre of music that helps you feel connected to something bigger than yourself?

Marika: well, I’m gonna be, uh, the song that’s coming to mind is imagine from the Beatles. So it’s not, uh, it’s quite mainstream. Uh, but, uh, but you know, this is one of the songs, uh, that, that would do that for me. Um, Yeah.

Carolyn: Yeah. I think, was it the Beatles or John Lennon? I don’t know. Maybe he did it

Marika: John Lennon, I think. Yes,

Carolyn: Yeah. Yeah, it is. It is a beautiful song. Yeah, it is a beautiful song. Well, Marika, thank you so much for coming onto the show. It’s been such a pleasure speaking with you and, and thank you for being a pioneer in this area and leading the way and bringing all of your great work, um, into these organizations, you know, 10, 12 years ago.

It’s because of people like you that are treading the way for people like me to follow in your footsteps. So thank you.

Marika: Well, thank you for the appreciation. I’m receiving it with pleasure.

Carolyn: All right. Well, thanks again for coming on the show.

Marika: you. Thank you, Caroline.

Carolyn: So, one of the last questions I asked Marika was if she uses that word consciousness in her work. And as you heard, she does. So I’m curious what you think of that word. Does the word consciousness fit? With work for you or does it not? And maybe reflect on that a little bit. I know my perspective has changed a fair amount over the past, uh, five or so years.

And I’d say in particular in the last two years, if you would like to subscribe and rate and review our show, I’d really, really appreciate it. And. If you’d like to learn more about my work, I’m at carolynswara. com. You can find more information about my book and the services that I offer. Thanks so much for tuning in and we’ll see you in our next episode.


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