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Why complexity is challenging change leaders: top takeaways from impact leadership events

by Shannon Houde

Just 8 billionaires own ½ the world’s wealth. Global water demand will increase at least 37% by 2050. Inequalities are up and family income is down. I don’t know about you, but these facts stir me up. How can I help be a part of the change? Every day I work with leaders and impact professionals and like my clients, I am always trying to do and be better.

Last month, I attended two events that helped me to think through some of the big questions facing impact business leaders. I came away with a few insights that I want to share with you:

Cultural megatrends

First I headed to The Leadership Insights Series presented by the Møller Centre. We celebrated the launch of professor Mark Esposito’s and Dr. Terence Tse’s new book, Understanding How the Future Unfolds: Using DRIVE to Harness the Power of Today’s Megatrends. Both Esposito and Tse shared their thoughts on how understanding cultural megatrends prepares organizations for success.

We are stressed. The number of jobs being replaced by technologies and family income numbers are sad. Corporate profits are up and wages are down:

These are not cultural megatrends that we can afford to continue. Leadership means looking forward. We can’t follow those around us who aren’t watching the road ahead, but instead keeping their eye on the rearview mirror. Look at the “megatrends”, or forces, that are affecting the social, business, and economic world today in five buckets, spelling DRIVE:

  • Demographic and social changes
  • Resource scarcity
  • Inequalities
  • Volatility, complexity, and scale
  • Enterprising dynamics

The political, economic and environmental challenges we face can overwhelm even the best of us. These are uncertain times for sure. But as change leaders, I believe it’s our responsibility to do what we can to keep our eyes on the road ahead and establish a more sustainable future for everyone.

The Circular Economy will move us forward

The universe scheduled my next event just in time to start answering my questions from the night before: The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s 2017 Summit on the Circular Economy brought together innovators and pioneers to discuss a new vision for an economic system that actually works. Once you’ve considered the circular economy, the world never looks the same again. Why not eliminate the concept of “waste” from the start?

Chris Kutarna, co-author of Age of Discovery, believes today’s wasteful economy is approaching Europe’s 22 million unemployed people the wrong way. To avoid the related continuing rise of poverty, health issues, and stress we should look at the high rate of unemployment as an economic opportunity. We need a new vision for an economy that works long term. According to Chris, the key here is that our economy should value people as the driving force for growth, instead of resources. If we wish to reduce the use of materials and increase employment, then why do we keep taxing people rather than resources?

Ellen closed us out by noting that “social” is one of the backbones of the Circular Economy and we are mobilizing in the direction of travel. Not everything can be local, right? We’ve moved past that. But sharing what is locally relevant can create prosperity. Now is the time to find a way to update our growth metrics for the “Second Renaissance”. A renaissance that is both restorative and regenerative. Will the 21st century be our worst or our best?

Join me for individual performance executive coaching to learn more about how you can lead with conviction and drive scalable impact in your work.

This article was originally published on Pulse.

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