Psychedelics are breaking out of the therapy room into your boardroom.

You may know someone who has gone on a trip to Peru or Mexico to experience the jungle medicine known as ayahuasca. Or maybe you know someone who has been micro-dosing psilocybin inspired by Silicon Valley tech gurus. Or maybe you saw that episode of Mad Men where Roger and Jane took LSD and finally had an honest heart-to-heart about their marriage.

But now psychedelics are about improving your leadership skills too.

The use of psychedelics for personal and spiritual growth has been around for centuries, but the concept of using psychedelics to augment your leadership skills is a more modern application.

This move is due, in part, to a new term called Psychedelic leadership.

This relatively new concept has emerged in recent years as psychedelic therapy gains more attention and acceptance. It is an approach to leadership that incorporates the use of psychedelic substances, such as psilocybin, LSD, and MDMA, to enhance creativity, promote personal growth and development, and improve decision-making skills.

I started a 6-month Psychedelic Leadership program in 2022, founded on the idea that taking psychedelic substances can promote creativity, empathy, and open-mindedness, which are all essential qualities for effective leadership. In my experience these substances can help leaders connect with themselves and others on a deeper level, and gain new insights that they may not have been able to access otherwise.

The results for our first cohort off participants have been impressive.

In the words of one participant, the program allowed them to “connect aspects of my psyche, experience and intention in a deep, rich and meaningful manner. I don’t think I could have done this otherwise in such a clear, fast, and compassionate way.”

It’s like a short-cut to the idea centre of your brain.

One of the key benefits of psychedelic leadership is its potential to enhance creativity. Psychedelics have been shown to increase brain connectivity and promote novel thinking, which can be valuable for leaders who need to come up with innovative solutions to complex problems. Research has also shown that psychedelic therapy can help people overcome creative blocks and generate new ideas.

It’s not just about the brain. It also engages the heart.

Psychedelic substances can also promote empathy and open-mindedness, which are important qualities for effective leadership. By experiencing a sense of connection with others and a greater understanding of their needs, leaders can be more effective in working with their team members, customers, and other stakeholders.

Another of our participants described it this way: “The medicine helped me re-affirm my values (of helpfulness, forgiveness, and laughter), but not only that but it also confirmed the most important aspects of my life, which is my relationship with my partner. Although the program began as a corporate/professional experience, my journey was more about finding strength in my relationships. Since then my leadership style at work has improved, and with that my performance and excitement in my role. Since taking the leadership training, I now have a better relationship with my subordinates, peers, and superiors, and I am working hard to try to maintain the insights.”

Psychedelics can also help leaders to gain new insights into their own behavior and decision-making processes.

Through a process of self-reflection and introspection, leaders can identify and address their own biases, limitations, and blind spots. This can lead to more effective decision-making and better outcomes for the organization as a whole.

But it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.

Psychedelic substances can be dangerous if used improperly, and their effects can vary widely from person to person. It is therefore essential that any leaders considering the use of psychedelics in their work do so under the guidance of trained professionals and in a safe, supportive and confidential setting.

One of our participants was particularly nervous about these very dangers.  “At first, I was nervous about the medicine and the retreat,” they wrote in their exit report. “My experience with any mind-altering substances was limited to alcohol, caffeine, and cannabis a couple times in University. Not only that, but my experience with cannabis was a traumatic one, and I was worried that all experiences may be similar.” We built a customized program for them with multiple off-ramps: even on the day of the retreat itself, we presented options for them to take a half dose or not take any medicine at all. Once they knew that they were in control at all times, they felt confident and safe. “I am happy to say,” they reported “that the entire experience, from beginning to end, was professional, safe, and most importantly impactful.”

Like with an astronaut, the trickiest part of a psycho-naut’s journey is the re-entry.

The use of illegal substances for any purpose is still highly stigmatized in many work cultures. Most workplace environments may not be receptive to this kind of approach. Talking to openly about the experience  could harm the reputation of the leader and the organization.

A leader who has had a first mind-expanding experience can sometimes lack discernment. They may be like your younger brother who has discovered beer for the first time and wants to tell everyone how wonderful it is, including your parents.

That’s where you need to move beyond a transactional relationship and build a supportive group of peers who can help you hold yourself accountable.

Most existing offerings in this space consist of a day-long dose of psychedelics or, at most, a weekend retreat. Afterwards participants are left to their own devices and return to their normal lives. Business leaders who don’t come from a world where psychedelics are common – or even accepted – find themselves without the supports to properly integrate the feelings and new insights. Left to flounder on their own, they either revert to baseline as old routines re-assert themselves; or struggle with the implications of a radical paradigm shift.

I opted to develop a program that builds a cohort of peer leaders over a period of several months beforehand. This means the individual participant is supported during the retreat weekend by peers who understand where they’re coming from and what they’re working with. And it also means that participants have a supportive community to help them integrate the changes afterwards. Together participants and facilitator can hold one another accountable for embedding these changes into their work and personal lives.

Psychedelic leadership is a relatively new concept that offers the potential for significant benefits to leaders who are open to this approach.

While the use of psychedelic substances is not without risks, it provides valuable opportunities for personal growth, creativity, and self-reflection that can help leaders to be more effective and successful. As the use of psychedelic therapy continues to gain acceptance and become more mainstream, its inevitable we will see more leaders incorporating this approach into their work.

For more information on our 6-month Psychedelic Leadership, contact Ken Cameron at