Nature-Inspired Leadership: A Conversation with Dr. Kathleen Allen

Pachamama Alliance • 3 February 2020
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Leading From the Roots

The global Pachamama Alliance community came together with Dr. Kathleen Allen for a discussion about nature-inspired leadership, based on themes from her book Leading from the Roots: Nature-Inspired Leadership Lessons for Today's World.

Similar to the core message of Awakening the Dreamer—that separation is an illusion and experiencing our deep interconnectedness with all of life is needed to bring forth a thriving, just, and sustainable world—Dr. Allen spoke about the interdependence in natural systems that we overlook in many systems of modern society.

She spoke about how humanity fell in love with the power of machines, which led to the view of organizations as machines. But thinking about organizations as living systems rather than mechanical ones reveals new opportunities to impact them by reframing key questions:

What do I need to control? ➔ What can I unleash?
Who can make this work? ➔ What interactions will make this work?
How do I avoid resistance? ➔ How do I welcome resistance?
How do I influence individual actions? ➔ How do I influence the field (or culture)?
How can I create change? ➔ How can I transform energy that already exists in the system?

She invited us all to look at our actions through the lens of living systems and noted that the connections are there whether we see them or not. The interdependence is there whether we see it or not. And without first seeing that interdependence, our actions will have limited impact.

Nature assumes a livingness, that the whole system is alive, and yet most of our leadership theory assumes that organizations are objects. When you start thinking that organizations are objects, we begin to objectify each other. One of our challenges for ourselves, and for the people we’re working with, and for the people we hope to influence, is to help unlearn our defaults and open up to another way of thinking—a new narrative that builds our system into some kind of generous system, just like nature. – Dr. Kathleen Allen

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