THE LEADERS WE NEED

WHAT IS LEADERSHIP?

Essentially leaders lead change – in themselves, in their organisations, in society. In this sense everyone can be a leader – whether part of a hierarchy or outside a formal structure altogether. The leaders I help develop are longsighted, with a view to future horizons. They believe in better for all and they have a vision of what this might be.  Often inspirational, usually tenacious, they lead beyond authority and have an enthusiasm to take others on the journey with them.  I accompany leaders on this journey of transformation and of more conscious action in the world.

 

What is the context for today’s leadership?

In 2019 the UK government declared a climate emergency, Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England told businesses to wake up to climate change if they want to survive and the US Business Roundtable issued a landmark statement replacing shareholder value with recognition of all stakeholders, including all people and environment.  There is now widespread recognition that a perfect storm of crises – ecological, economic, social and psycho-spiritual – is affecting us all on a global level. Our world today has been described as VUCA: volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Leaders in all sectors are called on at this time to shine a light into the gloom and step forward. Together we must build hope vested in action.

BUSINESS IN A VUCA WORLD

The businesses that will thrive in this uncertain future will be underpinned by four acknowledgements:

Reparation – an acknowledgement of the harm to our planet caused by humans, and our collective responsibility to engage in reparative activities – to clean up and make good; and the understanding that care in all its manifestations is a better basis for prosperity than fear, greed and blame.

Risk – an acknowledgement of the inherently risky nature of business in a fast moving and turbulent world, hence a primacy on innovation, flexibility, a piloting mentality and intrapreneurship – spreading an entrepreneurial mindset within the organisation.

Regeneration – an acknowledgement of the finite nature of our planet, hence the need to reconfigure our ideas of growth from proliferation and bigger to deeper and wiser; and to assist the planet to regenerate. Following the adaptive cycles of natural living systems – growth, conservation, collapse or release, re-organisation – will replace our outmoded notions of continuous and linear growth.

Resilience – an acknowledgement of the abrasive nature of working in today’s competitive world, of the anxiety generated by unstable and unpredictable environments, hence the need to enhance not just our ‘bounce-back’ but through our inherent capacity for learning, to use challenges to ‘bounce forwards’.

WHAT KIND OF LEADERS DO WE NEED IN A VUCA WORLD?

The leaders we need are values led and purpose driven.

We need regenerative leaders. These are values led and purpose driven. They care what impact they make; they are in service to the triple bottom line: people, purpose, planet – profit grows from this as a natural result of doing the right thing.  They have broad perspectives and large comfort zones. They look beyond the organisation to its impact for good in the world in response to global challenges. As these leaders discover their purpose and unique contribution, they inspire their teams and organisations to seek more enlightened and purpose-led ways of working.

 In our race for more, for different, for fast and for new, we have elevated cleverness to pole position. A shift in emphasis is needed from cleverness to wisdom.  Cleverness seeks to gather information, sort it out and find answers. Wisdom seeks to elevate our minds to the balcony, the better to reflect on the patterns we see on the dance floor. In a complex world the qualities and skills of wisdom can serve us well.

WHY CHANGE? WHY REGENERATION?

We all want meaning in our lives, for our work to have purpose, and for our lives to mean something to others. The coaching journey to uncover these core drivers is a natural, exciting and rewarding process.

We all want meaning in our lives, for our work to have purpose, and for our lives to mean something to others.  The coaching journey to uncover these core human drivers is a natural, exciting and rewarding process.

 In these turbulent and transforming times we know that the future will not be a version of ‘business as usual’.  To invest work with meaning involves a paradigm shift in consciousness – in how we see the world and the story we want to tell for our future.  The new story is one based on regeneration.

 

HOW DO WE CREATE LEADERSHIP IN AND FOR THE WORLD?

 

Our world today faces its greatest challenge: we might view ourselves on the brink of a kind of self-created holocaust, the threatened destruction of our biosphere. These challenges are so huge, so multi-level, so complex, many turn away in confusion or denial.

 

There is an African saying: If you want to travel fast, go alone; if you want to travel far, go together. At this juncture in our planet’s history we must travel both far and fast. The great leaders today are looking not to become heroes in the old mould, but to change the rules of the game. If we understand everything to be interdependent then we can move on from the notion of the ‘Lone Hero’ out front to empowering, sharing and distributing leadership throughout organisations.

Building our capacity for engagement and infusing our inquiry with compassion, care and thoughtfulness builds leaders who lead both in and for the world. The shift in consciousness required is not work done alone.

If you would like to explore working with me as your Thinking Partner, click here to find out more about the ways you could do that