Leading from the Roots: Nature-Inspired Leadership Lessons for Today's World
And if so, where can we go for inspiration to help us achieve this goal?
In a time of volatile and complex uncertainty, it is time to learn the lessons that nature has compiled from 3.8 billion years of research and development. Nature is an interdependent, dynamic and living system - just like today's organizations and communities. Kathleen Allen uses nature as a model, mentor, and muse to rethink how leadership is practiced today. Leading from the Roots takes nature as a source of inspiration to help organizations see a new way of leading and designing workplace structure, applying the generous framework found in mature ecologies to human organizations.
Kathleen Allen helps shift assumptions, practices, structures, and processes of organizations to become more resilient and nourishing for all, and, along the way, design the way out of workplace dysfunction and drama.
"Leading from the Roots provides a powerful new way of thinking about organizations as living systems and delivers practical leadership frameworks for individuals to learn how to unleash the energy and create innovative, effective teams.
-Anne Boneparte, CEO Appthority
This book is a must read for organizational leaders who are not only committed to their mission, but equally to creating a workplace that attracts and retains the brightest and the best professionals fully enabled to meet that mission. -Caryl Stern, President & CEO UNICEF USA
Leading from the Roots: Nature Inspired Leadership Lessons for Today's World helps leaders tackle this challenge. If you're jettisoning outdated ways of doing and being in organizations, it's worthwhile. If you're looking for ways to use natural processes as models, it's also invaluable.
The author, Dr. Kathleen Allen, draws on extensive consulting experience. That track record does not merely add to the credibility of her recommendations. It also results in an engaging, practical, and readable work.
Allen inspires us with her picture of the new, generous organization. She elevates the discourse around transparency, interdependence, diversity, resiliency, and authenticity. She imbues them with the gravitas they merit as linchpins of truly forward thinking 21st century organizations.
Allen has divided the book into eleven chapters. The first nine outline specific characteristics of the natural world. These serve as starting points for key shifts in organization and leadership. I cannot imagine a clearer, more accessible way to present such material. Science written for non-scientists devolves into technical detail. Such minutiae often lay beyond the understanding of many readers. Allen deftly avoids this fate.
I also applaud Allen's decision to conclude each chapter with questions. They're designed to help leaders and their teams to think about what they've just read. I assume she's used these same questions in her work with clients. That said, I was unclear how a reader might move from the questions to actual implementation of ideas that come up during related discussions. Perhaps a companion workbook (or Allen's next book) could establish a broader platform to help readers act on the fruits of their discussions.
Allen sprinkles references to relevant literature covering leadership, organizational behavior, and organizational design. She provides a comprehensive list of these references as a bibliography. This section is a boon to practitioners as well as academics, as the latter could assign the book to MBA or doctoral students with full confidence in its relevance to scholarly literature.
Allen might have mentioned The Biomimicry Institute in her bibliography. It's an excellent source of information on principles she addresses. I also would have found an index helpful. At times I wanted to refer back to concepts when they were first introduced, rather than when I encountered them later in the work.
These are minor quibbles, however. In short, I wholeheartedly recommend Leading from the Roots: Nature Inspired Leadership Lessons for Today's World. It's valuable to leaders recognizing that the "same old, same old" no longer works. It's valuable to leaders attempting to rethink why and how they operate. Finally, it's indispensable to leaders inspired by the norms of nature to do something different and better for themselves, their people, and their organizations. -Mitchell Friedman, EdD, APR, Leadership & Communication Skills Trainer, Professor
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