The original talk is republished by EE Magazine in three parts. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.
Uniting Leaders to Craft the Organizations of the Future
Port 6: Eco-leadership
And, I believe this is unfortunately where most of our ships are dead in the water. The maturity of an organisation can never transcend the maturity and consciousness of its leadership. Leaders create culture, with every move they make.
If greater consciousness doesn’t operate, a system does not possess the stability to let go of the past and transition to a new model, without losing its sense of identity and cohesion. Hence, leadership is our forgotten SDG #18 and our most important port of call.
From Purpose to Impact For traditional leaders who have risen the corporate chain by being in control, this is a difficult challenge: “what brought us here, won’t bring us there.”
If our definition of success is going up that ladder from VP to SVP to EVP, hierarchy prevails. If we dominate others to uphold our own ego, people around us won’t flourish. If we seek to control an uncertain environment with ever more rigidity, self-organisation will perish. And, finally, if we try to shrink the complexity of the world to our own cognitive limits, we will fail.But how can we transcend? What’s that breakthrough?
I dont know if it is true for you, but when I began, “being right” was often more important than to listen and learn. I often found it much easier to make a fist than to open my hand and heart and allow myself to let go.
I still don’t have all the answers, but in my experience, progression requires vertical development in co-elevating teams of peers, facing our own shadows and our emotions, letting go of restrictive mental models, rather than just intellect or leadership trainings.
Responsible leaders, says MKDV, are not only born – but “twice born” through painful individuation – where every victory of the self feels like a “defeat for the ego” – until we can compassionately see all the facets of an interconnected whole.
But above all, I believe it is about tapping into what really matters to us. If you close your eyes and listen hard enough and for long enough, you will understand what truly drives you, what life asks from you.
Exploding with passion, without shame. Loving without measure. Sensing that wonder of nature. Serving others beyond the confines of yourself. Connecting to that essence of who you are and what you stand for, your moral agency, allows you to let go of fear and the desire to control. To love yourself and love others for mutual growth. And once you fully commit yourself to serve a greater purpose, to serve all life – magically, synchronously the world outside you changes, too.
Suddenly, leadership is not a tribe of special individuals with special traits, and not even a role, but about developing the leadership potential in everyone. About people no longer being victims of circumstances but participating in the creation of new possibilities. About learning together how to shape a more responsible future.
Ultimately, leadership is an inter-relational “eco-centric” capability, a positive movement – what we, collectively, are able to create. Not by top-down transformation or big bang organisational restructuring, but evolutionary through networks of teams and continual co-creation everywhere.
UtopiaI know what you think now. That’s utopia. Yet, Oscar Wilde once wrote: “A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing.”
The truth is that we all have the power to reshape our relationships and organisations from who we are and how we show up. Wherever we live in an organisation, we can act within the envelope of our own permissions to spark energy through our relations. We can go sideways and connect our network to create experiments.
If we show vulnerability, courage and compassion, and selflessly address challenges bigger than ourselves, people will follow. And if we collectively believe in the power of a new model, and are willing to become part of its evolution, it will arise.
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?I have learned over the course of my career that transformation is always extremely personal. It was never easy for me to let go. Yet, throughout my strenuous journey my relationships became richer, I am more at ease with myself, I have accepted fear and I have grown.
But I also had to learn that true purpose is not only beautiful poetry, but also what we are personally willing to give up, or to struggle and to suffer for. It is about how much we dare to hope and how far we decide to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone.
As St. Augustine said: “Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.” And if you are already courageous, but still feel comfortable, make another step! You cannot think yourself into a new way of acting – you must act yourself into a new way of thinking!
Returning Home: Uniting Responsible Leaders to Reshape Our FutureThis truly completes our short travels together. Personally, I was already convinced before this crisis that we had arrived at an existential moment and it was urgent to act.
With the current pandemic, I do believe the urgency is even greater. The virus lays bare the frailty of our social contract and the economic lockdowns shine a glaring light on existing inequalities — and even create new ones. Today is a time where we have to occupy those “front rows of our lives” and make choices. As leaders we don’t have the privilege to remain silent.
In summary: I believe that through our own transformations we can gradually spark the liberation of our organisations – crafting the structures, processes, and cultures needed to attain an environment for both individual development and the evolution of an emergent collective purpose.
And, together, our collective works can give rise to a new unifying cultural narrative, a new social big dream, that will overcome the limitations of the social materialism we have today. Where success is not only about money, but compassion, community and character.
Why will it work now, I hear you ask, if it has never worked before? Because I believe, for the first time in a generation, we are here and willing to look at ourselves in the mirror and see how we are all intrinsic part of a living ecocivilisation that needs change. And to start with ourselves first.
So, let us together show the spirit of pioneers and adventurers and stride forward on this quest to reimagine ourselves and reshape our organisations. Let us spark that Fifth Revolution to reverberate from heart to heart across the planet, to reconnect humanity and recover better, recover stronger, recover together!reinve
And if there is one thing I would love you to do tomorrow: it is to find a companion traveller to help you reflect on what you can personally do to make the world a bit more Teal.
Finally, a big thank you to all those who have guided and accompanied me on my journey to date and to Timm and the whole team for organizing this wonderful digital conference. And of course to all of you fellow participants – if you would like the slides or transcript or engage further, just connect on Linkedin. And as always, please do take my thinking apart, re-use it, and make it better.
I truly hope I have inspired some of you to pack your virtual sea bags and join us on this important adventure! If not us, then who, if not now, then when. Good luck and be safe!