A pattern of human competences in interaction

Over my years of working in complex collaboration projects and institutional change management, I took notice of what shifted actors into a more collaborative space. Shifts tended to occur around personal competences. People brought these competences in or they developed them jointly with their collaborators. Although, nothing I noticed was radically new – what was new was the uniquely unfolding combinations of these competences, forming a constantly changing pattern of mutually supportive ingredients . And it was the aliveness of this  presence that made a difference. In a stuffy room in Salvador de Bahia all the ingredients were there. Each participant had a very valid reason for
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Becoming Mindful

There are a techniques helping to develop mindfulness and they can be learnt. Although meditation can take us a long way towards mindfulness, there is more to it – at the core of mindfulness is the ability to become more than our own separate mind and feelings. When the mind finally becomes quite, it sets free other competences – compassion, gratitude, humility – as if these elements were quietly waiting to be set free. The key technique for mindfulness is mastering the mind and understanding that at the core of the human heart is love. If we access this place
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Life moves towards Balance

Finding our balance requires incorporating new techniques into our lives. There are many ways to get it right – from a regular workout at the Gym, to retreating into nature, to meditating or playing with our kids. Yet I believe we can go one step further in understanding how balance works and why. Can we simply learn from life? Balance requires a combination of three different energies in order to bring forth life, maintain its growth and take it to the next level. The first energy is our passion for life, for what we do, for how we relate to others. This passion
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Business leaders as catalysts for change

Wanting to make a difference for a better world is probably the most widely suppressed desire in organizations and among senior leaders. Beneath the surface of many high performing top executives is a vague disappointment with the competitiveness of the corporate world, and an unexpressed deep desire to create more meaning, more connectedness, and more relatedness. A senior manager from a multinational company told me “What I feel is that every person actually has a core that wants to serve … and it is more about uncovering it, because this gets silenced, cut off, nobody is asking for it, nobody
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Leading more consciously towards sustainability

Why is a change towards sustainability so slow to realize within most companies? Every change in an organization results from the choices made by dedicated people. Leaders are co-creators of an interconnected reality. There is hope that the leadership in global as well as local organizations will respond – out of a sense of interconnectedness and co-responsibility – to questions about human dignity, inclusiveness, and fairer distribution of wealth. In this way leadership might finally respond to the call for a sustainable world. A leader in a prominent position is bound to be a mirror for an organization. He or she
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Sustainability narratives – which one willyou choose?

A shift in thinking often precedes a change in action. This process is supported by collective narratives, which, for better or worse, help people to emotionally engage and create a different future. Narratives speak to the human capability to find meaning, and consciously and collectively shape the  future. Therefore, when collective leadership decides to engage with transformative change we also need to engage with collective narratives.   Through the lens of the dimensions of the Collective Leadership Compass, narratives co-creates a future that engenders responsibility and enacts future possibilities. But narratives also touch on other principles. They further the dimension of engagement
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Taking Collaboration Seriously – where to start?

Let us examine a typical sustainability challenge: An agricultural commodity is produced in Africa – in a limited amount of countries. As is often the case, small-scale producing farmers are organized in cooperatives, but these cooperatives have competence gaps within their management.  Moreover, there are also discrepencies in the trading and production aspects of this commodity. Many traders bring the commodity to each national commodity board. In one country all commodities needed to be auctioned, in another country they could be auctioned or could be traded directly to the buyers. And at the level of individual farms, practices may not be
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From the Individual to the Collective – a Paradigm Shift

Leadership paradigms often refer to only individual leaders and the expansion their individual skills. The collective has been missing in leadership development thus far. However, the challenges faced in most sustainability projects require us to go beyond the individual – and build the capacity of groups and systems. To  move critical issues of common concern forward requires collective action, dialogue and collaboration. Moreover, most employee performance indicators do not measure the quality of collective human interaction. Yet, this is what counts most for results. We therefore need to shift from a self-centered consciousness to awareness of the larger whole. This capacity building will be the
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Can power be controlled?

Humans have long been fascinated by the dynamism of free-flowing waters. Yet we have expended great effort to tame rivers for transportation, water supply, flood control, agriculture, and power generation. Poff et al, 2008, The Natural Flow Regime  Sometimes life develops as if designed by us. We feel we are in a flow. At other times, things happen that push our life into disarray. We feel we are loosing control. As we fight against feelings of powerlessness we respond by identifying problems developing and implementing a solution for its control. Control is profoundly ingrained within most existing human societies: we
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A Mind and Heart for Sustainability

From the many encounters I have had with leaders from various parts of the world, I have noticed a remarkable aspect of today’s reality: the desire to make a difference is present in many leaders, however deeply buried. I met very, very few who, if sincerely questioned, would not  find deep in their heart the aspiration to contribute to a better world. Beneath the surface, there is an unexpressed need to create more meaning, more connectedness, and more relatedness, and to help improve the lives of others. Wanting to make a difference in the world by serving humankind is probably the most widely suppressed desire in organizations and among
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