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  • Writer's pictureWilma Hartenfels

Regenerative Leadership - How you create life-affirming organizations

"True wisdom consists in not departing from nature, but in molding our conduct according to her laws and model." Seneca

When I stumbled upon the idea of regenerative leadership a few months ago, everything suddenly became clear to me. My friend Katja had recommended the book 'Regenerative Leadership' by the wonderful Laura Storm to me and while reading it, it felt like the puzzle in my head suddenly put itself together, connecting all the topics that excite me with a common thread: This is exactly how I can and want to contribute to a new world.

But what does 'regenerative leadership' mean anyway? It means a way of living and leading that gives back more than it takes. The concept is inspired by the principles of nature. Compared to other already very common approaches, such as Corporate Social Responsbility or Circular Design Thinking, regenerative leadership goes even further. It is not just about minimizing or offsetting the negative impact on the environment, but actually rebuilding the ecosystem.

The starting point for regenerative leadership in organizations is the leaders. And not just top management. Of course, change must also be supported from the top. But it is primarily the middle-level managers who need to create the framework for regeneration, as they are close enough to the employees to make a difference on a day-to-day basis.

In very concrete terms, managers can initiate regenerative processes in the following areas:

  • Living Systems Being: rediscovering one's own essence through deceleration and introspection and expressing it in harmony with the rhythm of life at work and in private, e.g., through moments of silence in noisy everyday life.

  • Living Systems Culture: creating a meaning-driven, yet still high-performance environment in which diverse people connect deeply with each other and take responsibility for their own development as well as the organization's contribution to something larger. Examples include self-organized ways of working and collaboration formats to activate swarm intelligence.

  • Living Systems Design: developing products and services that are inspired by the principles of nature and thus become part of the endless cycle of emergence and decay, for example by working with methods such as Circular Thinking and Biomimicry.

And how can you develop into a regenerative leader step-by-step at your own pace? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Find your essence: establish a daily 5-minute journaling practice and short moments of silence to connect with your own core being and give more space to your intuition when making decisions.

  • Have authentic conversations: Open up spaces for your team where people feel heard. All it really takes is a few minutes of uninterrupted speaking time per team member on a question that is on your mind, as well as deep presence and impartiality on the part of the listeners. Questions can be e.g. 'What is from your point of view the biggest potential of our team' or 'What is currently your biggest challenge'.

  • Take a holistic view of your products and services: Develop a stakeholder map for a specific product/service, listing all the people inside and outside the organization who are involved or impacted in its creation or use and beyond. Ask yourself if the impacts are more degenerative or generative and how the influences on those stakeholders can be improved.

Twin Tip: Get the book 'Regenerative Leadership' by Laura Storm or watch her inspiring TED Talk:

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