Leaders in Organizations as Living Systems

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Organization as a Living System

In a recent article shared by one of my favorite weekly newsletters by Sustainable Brands, writer Giles Hutchins brilliantly described an economy of the future and the form of organizations in it. I’m excited to coach leaders who’re helping pioneer these “living systems” into the 21st century!

Hutchins observes that organizations globally are undergoing a process of metamorphosis at a rate that’s been unseen for hundreds of years. The old idea of an “organization as a machine” is transforming into that of an “organization as a living system.”  Personally, I believe everything is connected and alive, so the concept of the “organization as an organism” makes sense. The traditional concept of a linear organization, ticking along like clockwork, is behind us. It’s being replaced with a model built on adaptivity, innovation, empathy, and staying connected in the cycle of creation, manufacturing, recycling, reusing, and respiring.

I admire his thoughts on the form that leadership will require in this new system. No longer can a leader just be an overseer or boss. They must engage with their teams, encourage learning and innovation, and through empathy and humility, develop a continual feedback loop. Leaders who know how to nurture others will help organizations of the future economy grow and flourish. Two sections of this article especially addressed the heart of leadership for these companies: “Sense of Purpose” and “Time and Space”.

Sense of Purpose

In “Sense of Purpose”, Hutchins shares how leaders will want to deepen their inner-compass, learning about themselves and going beyond ego and self-centered goals, such as salary and status. When a personal sense of purpose aligns with the organizations’ sense of shared purpose, THAT is where the magic happens. I work a lot with leaders in my 1:1 Executive Coaching to deepen their awareness and ability to access their inner compass to deepen change and complexity. The leadership teams I coach also work to listen and align with a purpose that serves others beyond profit, while also caring for people and the planet.

The section about “Time and Space” addresses our propensity to get lost in daily busyness and lose our ability to think “outside-the-box”.  Time and time again, I see this when coaching leaders who desire to be more adaptive and allow their teams to follow suit. The article suggests creating blocks of time for reflection, innovative thinking, and expanding our awareness. I’ve used some of these practices in my coaching for some time. I believe that in the future economy, they will be used as a regular part of business sustainability, helping to minimize the incidences of “tunnel vision” that locks us into a limited mindset and behaviors. With practice, we’re able to check-in with what’s happening inside so we’re better equipped to lead others towards remarkable results.

Organizations as Living Systems is an article for anyone interested in the organizations and leadership of the future. I’ll continue coaching leaders who are busy with this transformation and exploring how to help emerging leaders develop the capacity to listen deeply to the sound of their living companies, or for those that aren’t – how to be a part of rejuvenating its ecosystem. This is an exciting shift for leaders, companies, and a future economy which, together, we are creating.

Have a story about leadership? I’d love to hear it and help further learning on this topic as well as hear your good news!

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