I recently presented at the annual spring Conscious Capitalism Conference, in Chicago. The energy at this event is nothing short of electric. The Conscious Capitalism conference offers attendees a chance to learn from a wide variety of luminaries, leaders and companies that champion the four main principles of Conscious Capitalism: conscious leadership and culture, higher purpose and a holistic approach to stakeholder orientation. As an advocate of heart-centered leadership, I was gratified to hear the words "love" and "leadership" articulated simultaneously over the course of this three-day convention.

The Conscious Capitalism movement recognizes that when you lead from a genuine place of integrity, employees, customers and stakeholders alike derive positive benefits. The Conscious Capitalism conference is truly an event that celebrates vulnerability and a more compassionate, mindful form of leadership.

During his keynote speech, Conscious Capitalism Co-founder John Mackey challenged us all to "bring love out of the corporate closet." You may be wondering, what on earth does love have to do with commerce -- and the health of the bottom line? For me, Mackey's statement reinforces the principles of Heart-Centered Leadership and evokes a sense of wholeness, authenticity, and respect. A Heart-Centered leader has the courage to tackle business challenges with truth and genuine care for others while relentlessly striving for the best -- for all parties involved.

If leading with love sounds like a lofty goal -- don't worry, it's not as sentimental or complex as you may imagine. Leading with love simply means honoring the human side of business by being a compassionate individual who guides with humility and fair-mindedness. If you are willing to do some soul-searching and take responsibility for your actions, you are on your way to leading with love.

As well, an altruistic style of leadership continuously proves to contribute to a healthier bottom line. A worldwide study by Catalyst highlighted in the Harvard Business Review showed that when employees observe more selfless and humble behaviors from their leaders -- the result was a boost in productivity, innovation, and engagement. Another study found similar results reporting that humble leaders with a greater sense of self-awareness have teams that are more dedicated and service-minded.

Humility and selfless commitment to others are not character traits most people acquire overnight. Begin with courage and focus, by taking an honest look at yourself. Once you set aside the time to observe your leadership style, you'll be in a better position to influence, inspire, and motivate others more successfully.

Assessing Your Humility

The following questions may help you determine your ability -- and willingness -- to put the ego aside. Answer the questions as honestly as you can. Take time to reflect on your answers and notice any areas that could use some improvement.

  1. Do you have a tendency to boast about your achievements?
  2. Do you have a propensity to downplay or minimize your achievements?
  3. Have you ever been told that you have misrepresented yourself?
  4. Would you consider yourself to be a perfectionist?
  5. Do you have difficulty admitting you don't know something?
  6. Do you have to be the one who brings a new idea to the table?
  7. If a colleague contradicts you, do you have a knee-jerk reaction?
  8. Are you willing to seek out others to get a fresh perspective on things?
  9. Do you tend to see yourself as the most important one at work?
  10. Do you feel that you have accomplished all you need to know?
  11. How often do you reflect on the fact that your position or business may be able to continue without you?
  12. Are you anxious to know whether others consider your ideas, opinions and overall work important?
  13. Do you spend a greater percent of your time during the workday taking care of others and the business versus trying to excel, lead or perform?
  14. How often do you express appreciation or gratitude for the contributions of your employees?
  15. When you encounter obstacles, is your tendency to react rather than see the larger perspective?

As Carl Jung once said, "Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens." Maybe it's time to awaken to the possibility of leading with love and humility.

Published on: May 12, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.