Ready for conscious leadership? Make these 15 commitments.

By Daniel J. Pesut | 02/16/2017

The benefit? Success that’s sustainable.

Meta-Reflections blog

The purpose of my Meta-Reflections blog is to create community and invite action through reflection and sharing of personal, intellectual, and public resources. So I am always on the lookout for leadership information that challenges, engages, and advances insight, understanding, action, and professional development of leaders at all stages of their careers.

Daniel PesutOne of the most thought-provoking resources I have encountered recently is a book titled The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, and Kaley Warner Klemp (2014). These authors are known as the Conscious Leadership Group. They identify four ways of leading. Each is characterized by a specific posture, experience, set of beliefs, key questions, and benefits.

For example, they note people can be victims who believe life happens to them, and there are creators who make life happen. There are co-creators who believe life happens through them, and there are “one with all” people who believe they are life. The authors also identify and explain leadership practices that offer a new paradigm for sustainable success. What an amazing world we might create if every nurse embraced these 15 commitments. Click here for expanded descriptions:

  • Take radical responsibility.
  • Learn through curiosity.
  • Feel all feelings.
  • Speak candidly.
  • Eliminate gossip.
  • Practice integrity.
  • Generate appreciation.
  • Excel in one’s zone of genius.
  • Live a life of play and rest.
  • Explore the opposite.
  • Commit to being the source of one’s security, control, and approval.
  • Have enough of everything.
  • View all people and circumstances as allies.
  • Create “win” for all situations.
  • Be the resolution.

Photo of large 15 in sparkly lights.Of course, each commitment has a flip side. For example, the flip side of responsibility is blame. Curiosity can be derailed by self-righteousness. Feeling can be squelched by repression. Candidness can be subverted by withholding. Integrity can be sabotaged by not keeping agreements. Appreciation can be prohibited by feelings of entitlement. Personal excellence can be undermined by holding oneself back. Living a life of play and rest can be displaced by belief that life is a struggle.

Believing one is right precludes exploring the opposite. Believing security, control, and approval come from others takes away personal responsibility and ownership. A scarcity mentality trumps belief that there is enough. Seeing the world as an ally requires one to reframe the notion that other people and circumstances are obstacles. Creating winning solutions for all requires moving away from a zero-sum game mentality. Committing to being the resolution is the opposite of responding with apathy, blame, or resentment.

To stay above “the line” and avoid the “drama triangle,” conscious leadership requires intention, insight, and practice. I invite you to explore the resources at the Conscious Leadership website. Perhaps you will make a personal commitment to practicing conscious leadership, or take the lead and introduce the concept where you work. What might be possible if nurses everywhere engaged in conscious leadership?

Daniel J. Pesut, PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN, past president of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International, is professor of nursing, Population Health and Systems Cooperative Unit and the Katherine R. and C. Walton Lillehei Chair in Nursing Leadership at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing. He is also director of the Katharine J. Densford International Center for Nursing Leadership. Click here to access Blogger-resident entries posted before 2017 in Pesut's blog, “Meta-Reflections.”

Dethmer, J., Chapman, D., & Klemp, K.W. (2014). The 15 commitments of conscious leadership: A new paradigm for sustainable success. Authors.


  • drama triangle
  • zero-sum game
  • scarcity mentality
  • security
  • entitlement
  • integrity
  • repression
  • self-righteousness
  • allies
  • zone of genius
  • responsibility
  • curiosity
  • conscious leadership
  • sustainable success
  • one-with-all
  • co-creators
  • creators
  • victims
  • beliefs
  • posture
  • leading
  • Conscious Leadership Group
  • Kaley Warner Klemp
  • Diana Chapman
  • Jim Dethmer
  • The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership
  • careers
  • leadership
  • Meta-Reflections
  • mission
  • Daniel J. Pesut
  • Nurse Leader
  • Nursing Student
  • Nurse Researcher
  • Global - Asia
  • Nurse Faculty
  • Nurse Educator
  • Educator
  • Clinician
  • ClinicalC
  • Roles
  • RNL Feature
  • RNL
  • Nursing Student
  • Nursing Faculty
  • Nurse Researchers
  • Nurse Clinician
  • Global - Oceania
  • Global - North America
  • Global - Middle East
  • Global - Latin America
  • Global - Europe
  • Global - Africa
  • Meta-Reflections blog