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To disrupt or to be disrupted?

To disrupt or to be disrupted?
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Andy Dickson is a senior consultant and global customer solutions manager at Impact UK 

Leadership in service to humanity 

Mark Twain said: ‘The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.’ 

It might sound a little dramatic but that second event happened for me unexpectedly at the age of 57. For a while I wasn’t sure what to do with that revelation, but it is now very clear, and I had the opportunity to take a small step on that journey in the rainforest biome of The Eden Project at Anthropy 2023.

I have spent my career developing leadership capability and capacity in organisations. Since Covid, I have felt compelled to drive this work towards the urgent environmental and social issues we face. This mission shapes my thinking and behaviour, and is aligned to Impact’s wider purpose to liberate human potential in order to create a more positive impact in the world.  

I recently had the opportunity to live this purpose, delivering a sell-out session in the rainforest biome of The Eden Project for 50 engaging, inspiring leaders.  

Innovations to inspire action

In its second year now, Anthropy is a conference like no other. It aims to bring together diverse leaders to spark innovation, create new thinking, and inspire action on the future quality of life in Britain.  

A group of us from Impact attended Anthropy as content partners, running two experiential, engaging sessions. One of these sessions was run with our client partner, Vita Group, sharing their story of liberating human potential to innovate new ways of working aligned to the circular economy.  

In the other session, we ran the Regeneration Game, a fun, dynamic learning experience that invites people to do two things: 

  1. Consider the mindset and behaviours we choose every day that affect the quality of life on earth.
  2. Consider the level of leadership action we choose to take every day, that influences the quality of life on earth. 

Asking bold questions 

The first of these two questions is simply about the personal action we take to have a more positive impact on the world. Do we minimise our impact on the environment? Do we make consumer decisions on our energy supplies, our travel decisions, and how the food we buy is produced? 

The second is a much greater challenge, asking us to look at the level of leadership we bring to these issues. This is about leadership in the broader sense, running through a continuum from self, through to friendship group, organisation, sector, country, region, and the world stage. Easily said in one sentence – not easily done! 

Let’s take a well-known example: Greta Thunberg, school pupil turned global climate activist. We all know her – she is a truly global leader. To quote Heather Small, at some point Greta, knowingly or unknowingly, ‘stepped out of the ordinary’.  

My reflections from Anthropy

And that is my main reflection on spending three days at Anthropy. The world has 8 billion people in it. How many of our global leaders are truly acting in service of humanity?  

It struck me at Anthropy that most people who look to take leadership action take it either within their organisation or within their community. To take leadership action further up the continuum is extremely challenging and becomes exponentially harder.  

Who is disrupting business as usual?

Do you want to step out of the ordinary? At Anthropy 2023 I met some people that do. These are people who I believe are leading in service to humanity, not in service to themselves: 

  • Natalie Campbell is standing for Lord Mayor of London as an independent candidate, working to serve her community and disrupt the system. 
  • John O’Brien created Anthropy as a way to inspire leaders to take courageous action for the future quality of life in Britain – and hopefully then the world. 
  • Avril Greenaway is co-founder of Cleaner Seas Group, disrupting our collective indifference to microplastics in the ocean – we will all thank her one day. 
  • Chidi Oti Obihara is a senior research fellow at Project Drawdown, working to find the solutions to the greatest challenges faced by humanity. 
  • Kim Polman is co-founder of Reboot the Future, whose work in creating a better future is premised on the simple idea that we should treat others and the planet as we’d wish to be treated. 
  • Ian Robb is CEO of the Vita Group and is transforming his organisation to become part of the circular economy. Robb is committed to sharing this philosophy with others, from all organisations and sectors. 
  • Dame Darcey Bussell founded DDMIX, whose work involves taking dance into schools for much needed wellbeing, health and collaborative social skills. This work reminds us of the power of the, largely underfunded, arts. 
  • Dame Julia Cleverdon is Chair of Place Matters and has the courage to speak her truth, which the world really needs to hear. 

Ask yourself this...

In the Regeneration Game we ask a simple question: ‘What leadership action will you take in service to humanity that will make a positive impact?’ 

Thank you to Anthropy for the opportunity to listen, discuss and reflect. Thank you to those who came and played the Impact Regeneration Game and to those who committed to taking leadership action, the world needs you. 

Find out more

Is the world better off because your organisation is in it? At Impact, we help organisations to transform into forces for good by unlocking the human potential within them. Check out how we can help you to have a positive impact – or use the form at the bottom of this page to get in touch.