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Transforming Self and Transforming Systems – Leading Across The Threshold

February 7, 2020

It is an exciting yet challenging time to be a leader, when so much of what we thought we knew about how to lead and operate is in need of transformation.

Global leadership studies show a widening ‘complexity gap’ amongst today’s leaders.   As our organisations need to be more agile, innovative, responsive and purposeful to become future-fit, so too does our leadership logic.

The good news is: reaching beyond the complexity gap does not require us to add yet more complexity, burdensome methodologies, measures, models and metrics to an already busy and often stressful leadership dynamic.   Quite the opposite, in fact.

While more ‘head-learning’ may have worked in the past; the future now calls for something new, something altogether more embodied and experiential in its pedagogy.

Over the last decade, my action research on applied living-systems approaches for leadership and organisational development, have revealed to me a secret, a simple yet powerful secret inherent within life.

The other side of complexity is beautiful simplicity.

We transcend the complexity gap in our leadership mind-set by doing nothing more – nor nothing less – than opening ourselves up to the Logic of Life.

I have come across leaders of different backgrounds in different sectors applying this living-systems mind-set to enable their organisations to not just survive in these times of volatility but to truly come alive and thrive.

For instance, the CEO of a UK bank dealing with the toxic cocktail of increasing regulation, BREXIT noise, rising risk-aversion hand-in-hand with spiralling bureaucracy and disruptive market innovations left right and centre.  Instead of applying yesterday’s machine logic of tightening power and control across the organisation-as-machine, a threshold is crossed, a complexity gap is transcended.  Rather than grasping tight, there is an opening up. A more human approach to leadership unlocks brilliance. Creativity starts bubbling through the hierarchy, people self-organise and think-outside-the-box more, the culture becomes purpose-led from the inside out, talent is attracted and retained. Soon the company is outperforming while providing higher quality products and services to its clients.  This takes courageous leadership to move away from tried-and-tested methods of power-and-control into a space that unlocks human brilliance within self and system.

Another example: A housing association in the North East of England, dealing with the toxic cocktail of austerity, fickle government policy and spiralling social challenges. Instead of locking-down the organisation through ever-tighter power-and-control  leadership, a threshold is crossed, a coaching culture at all levels of the organisation is nurtured, reinvigorating teams to come up with innovations that provide award-winning client services that cut through complexity.  Moral increases, talent is attracted and retained, and a virtuous cycle spirals upward  as the organisation comes alive and people thrive.

There is a key leadership dynamic to embodying this next-stage future-fit leadership.  It’s an unlocking, a peeling back of our innate human capacities. It is an opening up to the emergence inherent within life, rather than a grasping tight to power-and-control habits of yesterday.

No need for yet more head-stuff, more methodologies, leadership-models, company-wide questionnaires or strategy management courses.  What is really needed is to directly experience and embody the beautiful simplicity the other side of complexity. Through powerful practices – which we activate in this  Learning Journey on Regenerative Leadership in Action  – we unlock the brilliance inside ourselves as leaders, and in-so-doing unlocking the brilliance inside our teams and wider stakeholder ecosystem.  It’s this fundamental step that will activate life-affirming futures for leaders and organisations.

At the heart of this unlocking and revealing process, is a ‘crossing of the threshold’, a personal transformation where we let-go of the machine-logic of old and open-up into the Logic of Life.

This threshold crossing is what enables us to become more human, more alive, more conscious. We bring in a fundamentally different way of being-and-doing than the level of consciousness that created our problems in the first place.

‘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

‘In times of turmoil, the danger lies not in the turmoil itself, but in facing it with yesterday’s logic.’ – Peter Drucker, management consultant

If you are a leader, coach, change agent or adviser wishing to develop the capacity-building you need for future-fitness, while learning to embody the living-systems Logic of Life, then take a look at this programme which activates the latent capacities you need to be a regenerative leader today.

Regenerative Leadership in Action programme


Giles Hutchins is a pioneering practitioner, business futurist and senior adviser at the fore-front of the [r]evolution in organizational and leadership consciousness and developmental approaches that enhance personal, organizational and systemic agility and vitality. He is author and co-author of several leadership and organizational development papers, and the books The Nature of Business (2012), The Illusion of Separation (2014), Future Fit (2016) and Regenerative Leadership (2019). Chair of The Future Fit Leadership Academy and Founder of Leadership Immersions, he runs a 60 acre leadership centre at Springwood Farm in an area of outstanding natural beauty near London, UK


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