February 2, 2022|Kim's Blog, Management Skills|
Book review: The Awareness Code - The secrets to emotional empowerment for incredible leadership by Wayne Linton and Steve Tappin

This article appeared in the February 2022 edition of Professional Marketing magazine.  With 57,000 books on leadership listed on Amazon I wondered whether there was anything new to say on the topic. But the authors of this book come from a rather different perspective – emotional intelligence is the broadest sense. Linton is a trained psychotherapist and Tappin runs a global consultancy for coaching CEOs, has much experience with Chinese entrepreneurs and is host of the BBC World CEO Guru series.

The concept is simple and is described in the 40 pages of Part One. The Chinese influence is apparent. The Awareness Code is based on 100 attitude, behaviour, thought, idea and concept tiles which are reminiscent of Mahjong and are a kind of periodic table of emotions. The authors offer the awareness code as a “lifelong learning tool” and suggest daily practice in contemplating the ideas. There is also an app to support the activity.

The introduction summarises the concept and shares the stories of the authors. There’s a mix of psychology theory, philosophy and mindfulness in there. Some parts are hard to swallow.

The Code has 10 “levels” each with an underlying theme with 10 tiles in each. Tiles 0 – 59 are seen as limitations (entrapment, negative, I-centred and based on ego) and from 60 as revelation, we-centred, life-affirming and empowered (based on a “higher self”):

  • Incredible (90-99) – Unity and Oneness Mind
  • Transforming – Wisdom Mind
  • Opening – Discerning Mind
  • Stepping in (60-69) – Liberating mind. Levels below are ego-thinking mind, levels above are witness mind
  • Egotistical
  • Controlling
  • Wanting
  • Stressed
  • Despondent
  • Lifeless (0-9)

There are activities to guide your use of the code and 25 “keys” to help you move out of entrapment and into revelation. The authors urge readers to access therapists if they find the Code brings out difficult feelings.

Part Two is about traps to accessing powerful leadership (the perpetrators). Much of this material is guidance about how to change unhealthy self-talk into a more positive mindset. Essentially, it’s about reframing. There are interesting insights into passive-aggressive, resentful and bullying behaviour.

Part Three is also about traps – the victims. This focuses on the 10 tiles of the stressed: hesitant, insecure, over-pleasing, anxious, worried, frightened, trapped, dread, terror and numb. And moves into exploring where leaders have lost their way and become disinterested, disconnected, unfulfilled, hopeless and ultimately lifeless.

Part Four is about the beginning of true leadership and starts with stepping into integrity. This contains lots empowering statements before guidance on being open and transparent and moving to transformational leadership and entering the mastery of leadership. Here tiles for gratitude, sincerity, heartfelt, thriving, compassion, altruistic and grace feature. There are also some short case studies.

Part Five looks further into the Code – how the mind works and the impact of early programming and conditioning, repetitive thoughts and core beliefs. And it explores some of the ingrained patterns of behaviour such as the Snake and the Wounded Warrior. Part Six is about 25 keys to living the code (including a case study of living the code during Covid-19). Part Seven is Above-90 Leadership and B.I.G. (Beyond Incredible Group).

There’s a lot of material and I’m not sure I managed to remain entirely engaged while reading it all. I guess I didn’t follow the guidelines to focus on the issues that appealed to me most.

Can I see leaders of Professional Service Firms reading this book? Not really. However, I think the 100 tiles that comprehensively describe the different aspects of both negative and positive leadership would be a helpful tool for the next generation of leaders who will need to know how to be more self-aware so that they can inspire the future workforce (as the authors comment: “those accessing the above-60 tiles are at the forefront of a new paradigm where relationships and the welfare of our resources are a priority”). I also think it would be a helpful alternative development tool for those who coach existing and emerging leaders.

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