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Transforming Leadership Consciousness for a Better World

July 18, 2019

What’s The Problem

We live amid a time of great upheaval and challenge, with adults across all parts of the world increasingly facing stress, anxiety, breakdown, mental illness, loss of purpose, complexity-overwhelm, confusion and over-work.   Today’s leaders are suffering in the same way – with recent research showing the vast majority of today’s senior leaders are struggling to cope.

Underpinning many of today’s problems is a deeper root problem that is often overlooked – a loss of connection:  connection with our true inner-nature; connection with each other; connection with life (beyond the technosphere and digital hand-held).

Mental illness across adults in the West is now at epidemic levels, with no sign of let-up. Couple this with the need for today’s adults to tackle the seismic problems humanity now faces (from climate change to the rapid degradation of all our life-support systems) we have an urgent need to transform how, as adults, we develop and grow ourselves so we cannot just cope but also courageously co-create life-affirming futures for ourselves, our families, our communities, and for the wider fabric of life on Earth upon which we depend.

Time is not on our side. If world-leading scientists’ latest findings are right, then the time to act is now, not in 10 years, but now. Our individual and collective future depends on the steps we take during 2020, 2021, 2022. These are critical times.

‘We can’t solve today’s problems with the same level of consciousness that created them’

Albert Einstein

How To Deal With The Root Problem

So often we endeavour to solve our myriad challenges in isolated ways that all-too-regularly applies the very same level of thinking to our well-intended solutions that created the problems in the first place.

‘In times of turmoil the danger lies not in the turmoil but in facing it with yesterday’s logic’

Peter Drucker


We now need to activate a new way of thinking that embraces today’s complexity with systemic solutions.  This is what Laura Storm and I write about in our new book Regenerative Leadership.


“The world is changing fast and organizations are not keeping up with the pace of transformation.  This book invites leaders to catalyze the necessary regeneration to not just catch up, but to lead the world into the 21st century.” Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary UNFCCC 2010-2016

“This book is full of wisdom and determination! A book that will inspire leaders to pave the way towards practices in harmony with our inner nature and the ecosystems we depend on.  Just what we need to succeed in the 21st Century.” Tim Flannery, scientist & author of Weather Makers, Here on Earth

“Giles and Laura bring their vast experience and deep wisdom to create an evolutionary blueprint for a sustainable future for business, people and the planet” Richard Barrett, President of the Barrett Academy for the Advancement of Human Values

Advanced adult developmental psychology research points to a new level of consciousness emerging.  We need the right conditions to cultivate this consciousness in ourselves, and then as leaders in our organizations and communities.

‘What the caterpillar sees as the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.’

Richard Bach


Like the metamorphosis of the caterpillar to the butterfly, something radically new is emerging in our next-stage adult developmental psychology.   Yet, just like the metamorphosis, a time of chrysalis, of deep reflection, introspection, reconfiguration and rebirth is required; otherwise the next-stage does not properly emerge through us.

I am currently writing a Foreword for a workbook that Elaine Patterson, a colleague/friend of mine in The Future Fit Leadership Academy has been co-authoring on Executive Reflection – which speaks exactly to this need to equip leaders with practical tools for cultivating a new way of leading in these volatile times – more on this in a future blog post!  Elaine Patterson has already written a beautiful book on such, Reflect to Create! found here.

This shift from constant ‘doing’ into a more infused being-doing way of leading requires a deeper quality of consciousness within us to be allowed to permeate through us more readily in our every-day conversations, relations, meetings and decisions.  This is a shift in consciousness no less, an expansion of our human capacity.

‘The greatest breakthroughs of the 21st century will not occur because of technology, they will occur because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human.’  John Naisbett, futurist

I explore this expanding concept of what it means to be human in this recent TEDx talk I gave at Wycliffe College:

It’s the age-old transformative journey of ‘crossing the threshold’.  Interesting the origins of the word ‘leadership’ find their root in the old European word ‘leith’ which means to ‘cross the threshold’ to die and be reborn.

This death/rebirth metamorphosis can seem scary even painful for the ‘ego’ to comprehend. Yesterday’s consciousness cannot fathom it – it’s too ensnared in mechanistic learning outcomes to understand the need for deep-work. Yet, without it, we will not transformation. It is an essential part of our capacity to evolve as human beings during these critical times.

What’s The Solution

Often this metamorphosis happens at times of crisis, thrust upon us by external situations, leading to personal breakdown. It does not have to be this way.  There are tried-and-tested advanced leadership practices that facilitate this process in ways that enable adults to consciously ‘cross the threshold’.  One the other-side of the threshold, we become true leaders, in service of life, seeking life-affirming futures for one and all. We become the very adults, leaders, human-beings this world now calls us to be, nothing more nothing less.

Nature-based leadership immersions are a powerful way for adults to go deep quickly in a psychologically safe way, while also taking inspiration living-systems to help us shift beyond today’s dominant machine-logic.

Mechanistic Logic shape-shifts into The Logic of Life

Why Nature?

Scientific studies show that being in the great outdoors is good for us. Being in nature improves our attention, creativity, empathy, and ability to find meaning and a sense of purpose – the very capacities we need to lead in today’s world of volatility and change.

As a transformational-learning environment, nature offers a ‘special edge’ to adult development. Well-facilitated nature-immersions cut through the noise and baggage of the monkey-mind like nothing else, enabling busy people to go deep quickly and safely, and enabling them to embody and recall their learnings more vividly than other learning experiences can provide for.

‘Look deep deep deep into Nature and you will understand everything better.’

Albert Einstein

While in nature, inspiration is found by accessing the logic of life within and all around us, by learning from living-systems and nature’s ways in helping us apply a systemic logic to our systemic challenges. Put simply, time in nature helps us shift our consciousness.

Giles Hutchins is a specialist in applying living-systems to personal and organizational development, and is an ecosystemic leadership coach. His pioneering work draws upon different resources, such as living-systems-thinking, complexity theory, complex adaptive systems, biomimicry, nature-as-metaphor, presencing, connecting to the living-systems-field (aka, Source), threshold-crossings and liminal spaces, deep ecology, ecopsychology, organization-as-living-system and systemic sustainability.

What are Leadership Nature-Immersions?

Immersion experiences are one-day (9.30am-4.30pm) experiences. Sometimes these immersions can be longer to include an overnight experience – two-days with an overnight solo experience.

The overnight ‘solo-reflections’ enable leaders to go deep with personal and collective inquiries in well-held psychologically-safe yet deep spaces. This leads them to consider vital questions around their own and their organisations purpose and legacy and how to take their own leadership to the next-stage. Often, adults feedback how they gain far clearer perspectives on their personal and organizational challenges when out in nature.

“Thank you for having me in this wonderful place, both in terms of the setting in nature and in my self.  You have created an environment that feels welcoming, safe and one where we have had the stillness to calm the superficial mind and access the deeper parts of ourselves, our true nature. It is an inspiration, an invitation to take this ‘into the world’, a gift to any who are ready to discover who they are.”

“A profound experience, beautifully held. An excellent mix of theory, reflective exercises and peer-to-peer learning, providing me the strength, resilience, direction and clarity I need of my leadership work.”

“Intellectually stimulating AND existentially exhilarating!”

What do they consist of?

Sometimes 1-2-1 coaching – one participant and one facilitator/coach, and sometimes small groups of up to 12 people from the same organisation or from different organisations, where cross-fertilisation of learning-experiences between organisations is gained. During the day, activities range from a blend of pair and group work, somatic awareness (body-work), mindfulness, personal reflection, deep listening exercises, learnings from living-systems applied to organisations, and heart-based dialogue round the fire.

Nature-Immersion facilitator Giles Hutchins has experience of applying several leadership modalities, honing and adapting them for nature-immersions. These methods include:

  • Theory U – Otto Scharmer’s work at MIT on awareness-based systemic leadership
  • Teal/Evolutionary – Frederick Laloux’s work on next-stage ‘Teal’ leadership consciousness
  • Spiral Dynamics – Clare Graves’ adult developmental psychology ‘Tier 1 and Tier 2’ consciousness
  • Systems Thinking and Systemic Leadership – Peter Senge, Peter Hawkins and others work on systemic leadership and systemic awareness
  • Complexity Theory and Complex Adaptive Systems – Ralph Stacey and others work on the complex non-linear nature of organizations
  • Regenerative Leadership – Giles Hutchins’ research on ‘organization-as-living-system’ and ‘ecosystemic awareness’, supplemented by other pioneers like Carol Sanford, Pamela Mang, Bill Reed, Laura Storm and Michelle Holliday
  • Biomimicry – The Biomimicry Institute’s and others work on applying nature’s inspiration to human challenges
  • Way of Nature – John P Milton’s work on connection with the 3 natures: inner nature, outer nature, true nature
  • Somatic work – body energy practices coupled with presencing/mindfulness techniques for ‘whole body’ intelligence
  • Depth Psychology – Carl Jung’s, James Hillman’s work on individuation and shadow work
  • Threshold Crossings and Rites of Passage – Laurence Barrett and others work on liminal spaces, rites of passage and thresholds applied to leadership development

Whether it be deep dialogue round an open fire, reflective walks in the woods, embodiment practices, energy work and team engagement, solo reflections, or applying insights from the complex adaptive systems of nature to business (such as biomimicry, systemic thinking, relationality and emergence) time in nature offers something special as part of the next-stage adult learning journey towards Regenerative Leadership – enabling life-affirming futures for ourselves, our organisations, our social systems, and our civilisation.

‘When you spend time reflecting on your purpose in the natural environment, the answers come so swiftly. Nature provides abundant living metaphors that speak deeply to our human condition. Whenever I am coaching or being coached in nature, I can trust that profound change will follow. It is a form of coming home and a form of healing.’ Katherine long, Faculty at The Future Fit leadership Academy


It’s time to transform.

For more on Leadership Immersions tailored to your leadership team and organisation, visit

To explore ‘the new paradigm’ further, join the Face Book community here and for more on the Future Fit Leadership Academy visit

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