Almost vertical - this is how Isabelle describes her learning curve in the past decade. It started with personal experiences, which, as a young business leader at the helm of an international company, were diverse. They involved leading through the heights but also through change and crisis. Aside from business and market related matters, many challenges could be traced to drivers of human behavior and organizational dynamics.
Burning questions emerged: what drives people, especially when it comes to leadership? Why the hiccups despite supposedly clear governance systems? What could she learn from experiences for her professional and personal development journey to help others navigate change and future-proof their business?
Speaking with others in leadership, she learned that most of them had experienced some sort of challenges, but it seemed that admitting issues of this nature was viewed as taboo. Yet there was a strong need for exchange on topics such as ‘how to prevent’, ‘how to learn from experiences’ and ‘what makes a good leader’.
This is when it clicked: The combination of personal experiences with the ones of others, mixed with learning from education in business, law and social science allowed me to investigate, understand and simplify the complexity of organizational and relational dynamics and explain them in scientifically verified but easy to read books and in her ‘coachsulting’ work.
My first brush with leadership was in organizing social development projects as a monk. The complexities involved in managing meager resources and guiding people towards a vision were quite
overwhelming. Having neither the communication skills nor the knowledge and experience to develop strategies, it was a steep learning curve for me.
As I started learning the ropes of leading people, my first realization was the importance of knowing myself in action. My perceptions, views, emotions, personal likes and dislikes, and judgments affected every decision and communication I made. I realized learning cannot happen without
knowing and understanding oneself. A space for learning is created when there is self-awareness. All the acquired knowledge and skills do not stick until there is this ground of awareness and openness.
My second learning was that the efficacy of my leadership skills was also dependent on my ability to hold, think and feel in an expanded manner. When we drive a vehicle, we feel our consciousness expanding to the edges of our vehicle and we feel that the body of the vehicle as our own. Similarly,
a successful leader is one who expands one’s consciousness to hold all the stakeholders involved.
Then leadership would not be a burden to carry nor a sword to wield, but a responsible journey towards a shared vision.
Being part of the Responsible Leadership platform, my guiding vision is sharing the tools and learning from these realizations.
We all share the same finite resources. And still, we're consuming it as there is no tomorrow. In "The tragedy of the commons," H. Garret [Sciences, 1968] describes the mechanisms of the depletion of shared resources when individuals maximize their benefits. The article is based on a pamphlet by Lloyd from 1833.
When becoming a geographer and climate scientist in 1999, global changes were discussed and agreed upon in academia. However, as scientists are seldomly politicians, their message was not audible to decision-makers.
Fast-forwarding 20 years, climate change has become a visible threat; the need to change our decision-making patterns has become more evident than ever. As our societies adapt to climate change, a different economy fostering new opportunities will become a reality. Our shared challenge will be to rebuild a sustainable future based on decisions taken that integrate the needs of the economy, ecology, societies, and family. We need to carefully manage our shared wealth and common assets and share our knowledge to build a sustainable future.
We need visionary and responsible leaders now!