The global traction gained by sustainability initiatives in the current climate is certainly promising, but why aren’t we seeing the impact desired on the required scale?
I recently spent two days in an ancient woodland as one of a diverse group of eight participants, learning about regenerative leadership under the guidance of Giles Hutchins (a pioneer in leadership consciousness). We slept beneath trees and cooked over an open fire, all while looking both inwards and outwards for insights into the flows and cycles of life. When putting into words what I learned from this magical experience, I decided to set aside my academic background in psychology and tune into all four of my ways of knowing: intuitive, emotional, somatic and rational.
‘And here is my secret, it’s a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one sees right, what is essential is invisible to the eye.’ – The Fox, in ‘The Little Prince’.
There is a running theme of deep disconnect in modern society. Interventions working to promote sustainability are too often implemented with a mechanistic mindset, focusing on measurement and control while neglecting the internal development necessary for true progress. As a result, the change facilitated by such initiatives remains incremental rather than transformative.
Most of us fail to recognise the broader systems in which we exist, moving through life without any thought as to the materials, systems and people involved in the manufacture/growth/development of the products we use every day. This disconnect of internal and external worlds is key. Reuniting the head with the heart and the gut enables one to nurture more sustainable, regenerative cultures.
What is needed is a shift in leadership consciousness from a mechanistic logic to one of living systems, founded on open minds, open hearts and open will. This requires personal growth and reflection, as well as systemic change – change within stimulates change without. As humans, employees and leaders we must begin to look at the world as a series of interrelating parts, systems within other systems, whose dynamics and energy are constantly fluctuating. These relationships are not limited to human constructs, but also exist between humans and nature.
With this perspective, it is possible to support organisations to adapt and succeed under ever-changing conditions. Value is found in every aspect of a business, in every member of the community and in every existing tension. This forces us to move from a mindset of individual gain towards one of collaboration, collective intelligence and co-creativity. With a collective purpose, individuals are empowered and motivated to drive innovation and change regardless of their position in a system or knowledge of a subject.
Life is a cycle, a rhythm which may be experienced multiple times over a day, in the span of a week or across many years. Where the trajectories of self-awareness and systemic awareness cross, there is opportunity for regenerative leadership consciousness. In order to fully engage with life and to have confidence in our actions we must know ourselves deeply. What assumptions and emotions are we beholden to and what would happen if we could release ourselves from these and be fully present? Systemic awareness allows us to appreciate the broader qualitative inputs of a system and the relational flows between facets. Combining the two leaves a person with an awareness of their unique way of interacting with the living systems of their world and how best to harness this.
 Hutchins, G. & Storm, L. (2019) Regenerative Leadership: The DNA of life Affirming 21st Century Organizations. UK: Wordzworth. pp. 3-24
 Jung, C. G. (1932). Psychological types. London: Pantheon Books. pp. 42
Megan Hall is a Junior Consultant at Impact.