From the Individual to the Collective – A Paradigm Shift

The collective has been missing in leadership development thus far. Changing our mindset involves awareness of the underlying complex compositions and dynamics of the systems that require change and the dynamics developing in a group of collaborating actors. We need to shift from a self-centered consciousness to awareness of the larger whole. In the old paradigm, leadership focuses on the capacity of the individual who has a higher position and who needs to enlist followers in order to deliver results. Similarly, in many organizations – both in the corporate world and the public sector – dialogue and attention to high quality
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Co-creation, collaborative spaces and aliveness

Over my years of working in complex collaboration projects and institutional change management I noticed that certain elements consistently shift actors into more collaborative spaces. These elements show up as personal competences which people bring in or jointly develop with their collaborators. I continued my inquiry and started to observe more closely. What was present when a cross-sector group agreed on a plan of action in an atmosphere of joint commitment? What kept a diverse group of actors together when each had to overcome hurdles in convincing their institution to collaborate? What emerged when a group of managers from competing industries patiently persisted in
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Collective Leaders Create New Pathways

Whenever we experience a group’s commitment to collective action for sustainability, one thing is palpable: Leading for sustainability is not an act in isolation. It requires leadership by various individuals towards a similar goal on a collective scale, trust in a common goal – which everybody will uniquely contribute to yet remain in alignment with cross-sector collaboration without hierarchy or central coordination a preparedness to join a collective learning journey. I believe the capacity for leading, initiating, facilitating and sustaining the construction of meaningful futures is enfolded in all of us. In that way collective leaders: create pathways for collaboratively finding
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Leadership for Sustainability: A Path with Heart?

“For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length – and there I travel looking, looking breathlessly.” Carlos Castaneda (The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, The Original Teachings in a Deluxe 30th Anniversary Edition Have you ever experienced an ambitious collaboration effort for sustainability that lost its intention? Have you come across deadening administrative cooperation procedures, bureaucratic structures and territorial fights? Have you even become tired of organizing stakeholder meetings that required huge efforts in back
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Patterns of Aliveness, Collaboration and a Sustainable Future

We all know a feeling of aliveness  – when we are happy, yet,  calm, when our heart resonates, when we feel most connected with life and when our humanity expands. At the same time, we are intrinsically linked to the order of life within us and around us – people, architecture, nature. We are constantly being created by this order – as much as we participate in creating this order. When we become aware of Aliveness and the role it plays in our endevours, we also become aware that co-creation works best in a collaborative space where there is “life”
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When passion lives a remote life

For me passion is at the base of my creativity and inspiration. When I feel passionate, I know why I am here and why I am doing what I am doing, and I can inspire others. I like to describe passion as an arousal of the heart. It is the desire to make a difference, the urge to change something for the better. I believe, our initial deeper intention is nourished by passion. Dreams hold passion, as do aspirations. Passion is the direct expression of our capacity to love life, the world and other people. Sometimes, over periods of time
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Creating a paradigm shift

Donella Meadows’ article: Leverage Points – Places to Intervene in a System is  an inspiring reminder, a timeless contribution that makes one think – and hopefully act. Reading it you might recognize how many aspects of sustainability initiatives are still stuck in regulatory approaches that – according to Donella – are lowdown on the list of effective leverage points. The second highest effective leverage point, she suggests, is the power to create a paradigm shift. This is what she says about how to create a paradigm shift: “You keep pointing at the anomalies and failures of the old paradigm, you keep speaking louder and
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Leading for sustainability

Leading for sustainability is expressing your creative potential as well as your ability to bring forth the world with others. Although there is no need for radical break-ups, revolutions or sudden changes in activities,  it is important to listen to when your heart tells you:  “Here is a chance to redefine your leadership contribution”. If you want to lead for sustainability, take small and consistent steps: Watch you heart – is it involved, where can you feel passion ? Act on the urge, no matter how small your steps are. Be persistent despite the odds and setbacks. Know that you
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Calculating the Costs of Non Collaboration

The costs of non-collaboration – or lack of collective leadership –  is often hidden, but the following examples make clear a severe imbalance between costs and return. (Although I have changed details in order to maintain confidentiality – these examples are all based on real projects and people.) First example: A two-day multi-stakeholder meeting on combating Malaria is convened after being initiated by an international organization active in the field. About 120 people from governments, civil society and research institutions were invited, of which only 80 showed up. Ten gave a speech or a presentation on issues that most people already knew
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Collective leadership for sustainability

Collective leadership for sustainability is the capacity of a group of actors to deliver their unique contribution to a joint purpose collaboratively. High priority is given to the common good, and a balance is struck between the needs of people, profit, and the planet. Leadership paradigms often refer only to individuals and the expansion of one person’s skills. Sustainability challenges, however,  require us to go beyond the individual and build the capacity of groups and systems to move important issues of common concern forward. In turn, this requires collective action, dialogue and collaboration. Leading for sustainability is therefore not an
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