Author: Julian

Re-skilling for the AI world of work

Re-skilling for the AI world of work

Owen Valentine Pringle

With Covid fast diminishing in the rear-view mirror, deciphering what ‘new normal’ habits are still standing is becoming a popular pastime. Although not immediately apparent, many of the changes have their roots in technology, the secondary and tertiary impacts of which have forced us to find new vocabularies.

  • Firstly, there are attitudinal shifts, giving rise to the ‘Great Resignation’, its humbler cousin ‘Quiet Quitting’ and its 2023 reboot ‘Conscious Quitting’.

  • Then there are behavioral shifts, such as ‘Hybrid Working’, which mean complete strangers can get away with calling me a ‘TWaT’ because I choose to come to the office only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

  • Next are organizational shifts, which can be explained by increasing numbers of part-time workers and indie contractors, as well as the geographical redistribution of workers away from cities.

  • The final piece in this jigsaw will be widespread vocational shifts as a result of technology automating or augmenting existing roles, establishing new ones, or disestablishing those that are harder to fight for in light of all of the above.

AI isn’t playing by the rules

The quiet revolution going on in AI suddenly turned into a raucous house party when ChatGPT went from 0-100 million users in two months, making it the fastest-growing consumer app in history.

By virtue, the general public was finally given a taste of the future which AI evangelists and Cassandras had both been prophesizing. Its success has opened the floodgates of our curiosity about new AI products and services, only marginally surpassed by the deluge of articles and videos asking ‘will ChatGPT take my job.’ And if it doesn’t, maybe Google’s Bard or Baidu’s ERNIE will.

“2023 will be remembered as the year we shifted uncomfortably in our seats”

New technologies come thick and fast, though rarely do they register a blip on the historical seismograph. This time is different. To most of us, 2023 will be remembered as the year we shifted uncomfortably in our seats.

Until fairly recently, the received wisdom was that if tech was coming for our jobs, it would ‘find and replace’ those whose roles were largely repeatable, with a finite set of outcomes. Actuaries, not actors. Articulated truck drivers not artists.

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Hans Moravec’s illustration of the rising tide of the AI capacity

The ‘landscape of human competence’ diagram created to illustrate Hans Moravec’s theory proved as much – creativity would be the last skill standing.

The trouble is, advancements in AI are refusing to play by the rules. Technologies like DALL-E have artists in their sights, while Flawless’ TrueSync are coming for voice actors. From retail to rocket science, AI keeps breaking our previously agreed understanding of which jobs it’s qualified for and which it ain’t.

The truth is, it’s impossible to know how technology’s encroachment on labor will occur, given we’re only at basecamp. Even amongst AI experts, the jury is out as to whether these technologies will augment our work in the short to medium term or completely supplant it further out. But if, as the old saying goes, the future is already here, just unevenly distributed, it’ll be too late by the time we realize the water has started to boil around us.

The imperative to re-skill

For several years, Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer has seen a growing belief in both individuals and institutions in the business arena, in inverse proportion to that of government, media and NGOs.

For the first time, this year’s trust index revealed that business remains the only trusted institution; at 62%, more people are ready to believe than disbelieve global corporations. The same study revealed that business is now the sole institution that respondents perceive as both ethical and competent following a three-year rise in its ethics score. This may surprise many people, but the fundamental truth at the heart of this matter puts the onus on organizations to rise to the challenge.

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“Organizations should be doing more to educate their staff well before their skills become obsolete”

The simultaneous rise in vocational uncertainty and corporate trust presents businesses with a responsibility. If the skills of today’s workers are misaligned with tomorrow’s labor requirements, then organizations should be doing more to educate their staff well before those skills become obsolete or before the policy wonks make it law.

This needs to go beyond simply encouraging discourse and comprehension about the inevitable and seismic shift we’ll see in the world of work over the next decade. BigCorp will need to dedicate significant resources towards the retraining of their people in order to aid a ‘just transition’ to a more automated future, and to prevent a global pandemic of wealth inequality. Don’t take my word for it. Nearly half of the Edelman respondents think so, too.

A wholesale re-education of this scale needs to connect seamlessly with pedagogy, and not simply at the higher education level but from pre-school through to retirement.

New technologies will change the world of work irrevocably, but the outcome won’t be purely vocationally destructive. Alongside AI, Blockchain and the Metaverse – both merely taking a rest in the trough of disillusionment before figuring out what they’re actually good at – will create swathes of new jobs that have never existed before.

“The future of human work will rely more than ever before on what truly differentiates us from technology”

The future of human work will rely more than ever before on what truly differentiates us from technology; our ability to connect with each other on an intimate level. Data, intelligence and analysis are nothing without the presentation layer of purpose, empathy and meaning, which we humans excel at.

And it is within this vein that the imperative to re-skilling should not simply be a reaction to the technologization of work, but a concerted effort to re-channel labor towards what will soon become the single largest industry sector humankind has ever known: saving the planet from ourselves.

Why we need B Corps more than ever

Why we need B Corps more than ever

Kim Coupounas

From my very first encounter with the B Corp movement, I was smitten. The B Corp model drew me in.

As a founder and former CEO of one of the earliest Certified B Corps and more recently a Global Ambassador for B Lab and co-founder of the B Corp Climate Collective, I’ve always believed in the promise of the B Corp movement, that it could move companies – and even whole economies – towards being a force for good.

But what does the future hold for it? A recent article in the Financial Times important questions about B Lab and its community.

The movement, which began over a decade ago with just a handful of visionary pioneering companies now has more than 6,000. As the movement has grown, B Lab and the B Corp community have been grappling with their future.

The B Corp movement at an inflection point

Much of the recent criticism leveled at B Lab and the B Corp movement has centered around the certification of large multinationals. Understanding that plenty of large multinational and public companies are making progress on the journey but are still way off, the question has been raised whether multinationals should be aspiring (or even allowed) to be B Corps.

Critics have also argued that the B Corp standards have become too broad and bloated, and do not do enough to tackle issues like climate change or economic inequality. Others have argued that the standards focus too much on individual company practices rather than broader systemic changes.

It’s clear that the B Corp community is at an inflection point.

What do we need from B Corps and the B Corp community now?

B Lab announced a review of the B Corp Certification requirements in December 2020. The new standards, expected to go live in 2024, emphasize 10 universally applicable topics and define non-negotiable requirements for achieving certification. These include taking concrete climate action, paying workers a living wage, and using a business’ brand voice and power for collective action and advocacy.

The original standards put forward a set of good/better/best practices that enable a company to take a holistic approach to using its business for good. The new standard provides a set of non-negotiable requirements for achieving certification. My view is that these new expectations are long overdue and will keep the B Corp movement relevant into the next decade. In the world of ESG and sustainability, there’s no perfect standard. Despite my impatience for the new B Corp requirements to “go live,” I still believe the B Impact Assessment – both the old and the new versions – is the closest thing that exists today to a roadmap for businesses of any size to transition to a regenerative business model. 

Just like no standard is perfect, no company is perfect. We need companies of all sizes to make progress towards a better future. I believe that we need B Corps now more than ever. We need more of them, and we need them in ALL shapes and sizes.

As part of my work with Leaders’ Quest, I have the privilege of working closely with a wide range of large multinational and public companies. Last week, a multinational client asked me whether the B Corp path is something they should still pursue in light of the Financial Times article. My answer was an unequivocal yes.

Leaders’ Quest to serve as co-convener of TED Future Forum

Leaders’ Quest to serve as co-convener of TED Future Forum

TED Countdown, a global initiative committed to accelerating solutions to the climate crisis, co-founded by Leaders’ Quest, announced its second Summit will take place in Detroit, Michigan from July 11-14, 2023. The Summit will also host the inaugural gathering of the TED Future Forum, an initiative of TED Countdown, focused on the role of business in accelerating solutions to the climate crisis.

The 2023 TED Countdown Summit will convene 700 leaders from the science, activism, innovation, business, finance, policy and philanthropic sectors. Hosted at Michigan Central, a newly opened innovation hub addressing the most pressing challenges at the intersection of mobility and society, and the historic Fillmore Detroit, the Summit will include TED Talks that highlight real-world solutions at scale; Breakthrough Sessions designed to explore the tools and partnerships we need; and immersive offsite experiences with local innovators to see how the city at the heart of the American auto industry is building an inclusive, sustainable future.

The four-day event will include:

  • Seven mainstage sessions, featuring 40+ TED Talks, interviews and performances
  • Offsite “field” experiences, from visits to state-of-the-art EV and battery production lines and factories upcycling waste to meetings with leaders building the “black to green” economy, climate migrants settling in Michigan and policymakers working to change the regulatory landscape
  • Breakthrough Sessions to scale collaboration, including working sessions on the transition to regenerative agriculture and how we fund climate adaptation as well as pitch sessions with entrepreneurs who are creating companies to solve the toughest climate problems

Featured themes and areas of focus to include:

  • The state of science + progress: Where are we for the UN’s global stock take on climate progress, and how does this reframe our understanding and actions?
  • Positive tipping points: Where are we making faster progress than we realize, and what are the most important breakthrough solutions to unlock now?
  • Adaptive innovation: What will improve the resiliency of 3.8 billion people who face shocks in a 1.5-degree world?
  • Bridging divides: How do we find unity in diversity and make progress despite our differences?

“Michigan Central is pleased to host Countdown and the TED Future Forum as we work to create a future that is more sustainable and equitable,” said Joshua Sirefman, CEO of Michigan Central. “Accelerating solutions to the climate crisis requires cultivating innovation that enables greater social, economic and physical mobility — the mission at the heart of Michigan Central’s work. Detroit is the perfect city to host these critical conversations and we are thrilled to welcome the world to the fully restored Book Depository Building.”

TED Countdown is collaborating with Detroit-based businesses, local leaders, arts organizations and the Office of the Mayor to both contribute to the Summit design and shape additional community activations. Speakers from Detroit will be prominently featured throughout the Summit program, and local organizations are partnering with TED to design experiences in the venues and throughout the city of Detroit. Existing partners include the Visit Detroit BureauDetroit Narrative AgencyKeep Growing DetroitReal Times Media and Detroit Blight Busters.

“The last TED Countdown Summit was in Edinburgh, Scotland, and I’m thrilled the next one will be hosted in Detroit, Michigan,” said Carla Walker-Miller, CEO of Walker-Miller Energy Services. “Convening 700 global leaders here is an enormous opportunity to amplify amazing work across the city and foster mutual learning and sharing with a diverse audience.”

Since its launch in 2020 in partnership with Leaders’ Quest, TED Countdown has released more than 170 solutions-focused original videos and podcasts, including 140 climate TED Talks that have generated more than 230 million views, facilitated 1,000+ local climate events in 100+ countries and, with TED’s Audacious Project, generated more than $470M in philanthropic funding for climate solutions.

TED Future Forum

Convened by TED Countdown, The TED Future Forum is a community of companies committed to stepping up with greater climate ambition to help transform the global economy and create a healthy, prosperous future for all. The Forum will work with its founding companies to identify critical business-focused initiatives where we can accelerate progress. TED will then tell transformational stories of both successes and challenges at events and via TED platforms, with the goal of inspiring businesses across the economy to action.

TED Future Forum includes diverse industries with unique concerns — and all are seriously committed to the green transition for the long haul. The 13 Founding companies are: AB InBev, BCG, Bolt Threads, CEMEX, COFRA Holding, Ford, Google, Interface, Maersk, Mars, Nestlé, Ørsted and Siemens. We look forward to welcoming other companies into the Forum following the TED Countdown Summit in Detroit, Michigan, from July 11-14, 2023.

“We cannot tackle climate change without wholehearted engagement from business,” said Lindsay Levin, Countdown founding partner and head of partnerships + impact at TED. “The Future Forum is convening leaders who have the courage to change the way business operates — and to work across divides to do so.”

“I know from experience that transforming a company requires a combination of dreams and details. We need to dream big, before we have the answers, and then to work really hard on the details to figure it out,” said Jim Hagemman Snabe, TED Future Forum Vision Council chair, chairman of Siemens AG and vice chairman of Allianz SE. “TED Future Forum is about helping companies to find the courage and know-how to speed up their green transition because it makes good business sense — and it’s the right thing to do.”

“We’re thrilled to welcome Countdown and the TED Future Forum to Detroit, where Ford is working to build the future of manufacturing and to revolutionize the way people move and connect,” said Cynthia Williams, global director of sustainability, homologation and compliance at Ford Motor Company.  “People everywhere are looking to businesses like Ford for solutions and urgency in responding to climate change. We look forward to putting our minds and resources together — in what we believe will be a powerful collaboration — to help shape a future for transportation that’s more inclusive, equitable and sustainable.”

“Every day we’re seeing the increasing impacts of climate change throughout local and global communities, supply chains and food chains. A more sustainable, equitable future will require meaningful action today across the business sector to deliver on commitments made in the fight against climate change,” said Shaid Shah, president of Mars Food and Nutrition. “By partnering with TED as a founding member of the Future Forum and joining cross-industry leaders and peers, we’re scaling up our efforts — and calling on others — through collaboration and uncommon partnerships to recruit new allies in the critical fight for a more sustainable future.”

“Information is the foundation of our company. Our founders set us an ambitious, almost audacious mission: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” said Kate Brandt, chief sustainability officer at Google. “The challenge of climate change requires ambition on a similar scale. In many ways, it’s at the heart of how we realize our mission in the years ahead. A sustainable future depends on the decisions individuals, organizations and governments make every day. We know that businesses need to move faster, together, so we’re thrilled to be a part of a burgeoning community of businesses focused on pooling innovation and knowledge to accelerate solutions to the climate crisis — and hopefully inspiring others to join us.”

“Collaboration is key to solving the urgent climate challenges the world is facing,” said Ezgi Barcenas, Chief Sustainability Officer at AB InBev. “AB InBev is thrilled to partner with TED Countdown and the TED Future Forum and its partner companies to work toward redesigning global value chains with cutting-edge innovation to create a future with more cheers.”

A subset of uniquely positioned TED Countdown partners are supporting the TED Future Forum initiative. Partners include the B Team, Environmental Defense Fund, Fundação Dom Cabral​, Generation Investment Management, Global Warming Mitigation Project, Kite Insights, Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping, Project Drawdown and Stand.Earth. A small cross-sector group of leaders provides guidance to the TED Future Forum as part of a Vision Council. This includes Jim Hagemann Snabe (Chair), Manish Bhardwaj, Habiba Ahut Daggash, Nili Gilbert, Rebecca Henderson, Wanjira Maathai, Roya Mahboob, Gonzalo Muñoz, Kim Stanley Robinson, Suzanne Simard and Nigel Topping.

Learn more about TED Countdown here, and learn more about the Detroit Summit here.

A message from the co-CEOs of Leaders’ Quest

A message from the co-CEOs of Leaders’ Quest

Dear friends,

As we start our roles as the new co-CEOs of Leaders’ Quest, we’ve been reflecting on the extraordinary leadership that created this unique organization and what it means for our path ahead.

It began 22 years ago. Lindsay Levin, with a small team that punched above its weight, launched the first Quests in Silicon Valley and India. The idea was to immerse leaders in the forces shaping the 2000s, inspiring them to lead their organizations differently.

Over time, spurred by the desire to grow impact, they sought to capture the ‘LQ magic’ that infused Quests in new ways to help companies build a better future.

They defined three values that remain just as relevant in our work as we help leaders navigate the turbulent 2020s:

1. Clear-eyed optimism

Recognizing life’s tough realities whilst seeing possibility everywhere. Racquel Moses, CEO of the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator, has a bold vision for the Caribbean to become the world’s first net-zero and climate resilient region. She leads a coalition of 28 countries to generate public-private collaborations. An example? A regional rollout using climate resilient agriculture to solve food security in five island nations.

2. Patient ambition

Big, urgent challenges need the space for bold change to emerge. For us, CORO India embodies this value in the work they’ve done over the last 20+ years to support grassroots leaders to tackle endemic issues in marginalized communities. CORO dreams of creating a society based on equality and justice. They work towards this by equipping each leader to deliver local solutions, while collaborating on state-wide campaigns which reach millions of people.

3. Relentless generosity

We strive to be loving to ourselves and others, even when it’s hard. The role model of this value for many of us is our founder Lindsay, who has just stepped down as CEO yet continues to provide her wisdom as a deeply-valued Board member. Those who know her will recognize this is how she shows up, every day.

As we embark on leading Leaders’ Quest, we want to take this moment to honor these roots: The founding team at LQ that enables us all to do this work today; our clients, who trust us to guide them on their own journeys; and the worldwide community of leaders and innovators who welcome us into their worlds to share learning and inspire new ways forward.

We invite you to look at your own values to see who’s shaped them, and how they influence the choices you’re making for the future. We’d love to hear your reflections.

With warm wishes,

Jayma Pau & Melanie Jamieson

Leaders’ Quest, Reos Partners, Climate Champions Team, and TED Countdown launch the Radical Climate Collaboration Initiative

Leaders’ Quest, Reos Partners, Climate Champions Team, and TED Countdown launch the Radical Climate Collaboration Initiative

Reos Partners, the social impact company bringing transformational change to complex societal issues, announces that it’s joined forces with the Climate Champions Team, TED Countdown, and Leaders’ Quest to launch the Radical Climate Collaboration initiative to accelerate climate action.

The global climate movement is an unprecedented collective response to an unprecedented global challenge. As the global impacts of climate change are becoming more clear and severe, the need to effectively collaborate with diverse others is imperative.

Reos Partners, the social impact company bringing transformational change to complex societal issues, has partnered with the Climate Champions Team, a global team of experts supporting the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions to drive collaborative climate action, TED Countdown, and Leaders’ Quest to launch the Radical Climate Collaboration initiative to support the movement towards net zero. 

The initiative’s first endeavor brought together 100 experienced climate practitioners from around the world to summarize their guidance in the forthcoming Radical Collaboration to Accelerate Climate Action: A Guidebook for Working Together with Speed, Scale, and Justice. The guidebook is designed to help people and organizations from diverse backgrounds, sectors, and scales, collaborate more effectively. It defines seven practices which, taken together, have the potential to generate a cooperative effort leading to fast, big, and fair results. The guidebook is available at

“People around the world are stepping forward to take climate action. Some of these collaborations are producing extraordinary results, but in aggregate they are not yet big or fast enough to achieve the economic and societal transformations necessary for a safe and just future,” says Adam Kahane, Director at Reos Partners.

“Making progress on climate mitigation, adaptation, and restoration requires many stakeholders to work together across deep differences. This is the reason for the Radical Climate Collaboration initiative. Radical collaboration is a pragmatic and proven approach to working together to move forward with speed, scale, and justice,” he adds.

Nigel Topping, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for the UK, COP26 says, “We need a collaborative shift across all of society towards a decarbonized economy so that we can all thrive in a healthy, resilient and zero carbon world. The Radical Climate Collaboration Initiative will enable us to achieve the collective action needed for successful climate action.”

“Climate change has led our planet to a perilous position, requiring urgent action. It’s a complex issue needing collaboration, innovation, and rapid action in order to make meaningful progress,” said Lindsay Levin, incoming Head of Impact and Partnerships at TED and co-founder of TED Countdown. “By providing practical resources, on-the-ground workshops, and a global network for sharing, learning and collaboration, our goal as the Radical Climate Collaboration Initiative can build the capacity to move toward a net zero world.”

A personal message from LQ Founder and CEO Lindsay Levin

A personal message from LQ Founder and CEO Lindsay Levin

Lindsay Levin

Dear friends,

I hope you and your families are well. 

I’m writing with significant news. 

Strategic alliance between Leaders’ Quest and TED

For the last three years LQ has had a very successful climate partnership with TED through Countdown. It’s been exceptionally impactful, reaching tens of millions of people with solutions to the climate crisis and building cross-sector collaboration to solve tough dilemmas. 

We’re thrilled now to build on this partnership and deepen our shared work through a Strategic Alliance between LQ and TED. We have complementary skills, great alignment in terms of vision, values and purpose – and we see powerful opportunities to do more together in the future. 

A change in my role

As part of this, I will be shifting my role at the end of the year. After 21 years at the helm, I will stand down as CEO of Leaders’ Quest, though I will continue as an advisor, board member and, above all, friend.

I will take up a new role at TED, commencing January 3, as Head of Impact and Partnerships. TED is an amazing platform and this is a wonderful mandate to partner with businesses and philanthropists to address big global themes and to bring an ‘impact-first’ mentality to TED’s work with all partners. 

Leadership at LQ

After consultation with the Partners, our Board and external advisors, I am thrilled to share the news that Jayma Pau and Melanie Jamieson have accepted roles as co-CEOs of Leaders’ Quest, commencing January 3.

Jayma has been with us for 15 years. She joined as a Program Coordinator, spent two years in Mumbai setting up our India office, time seconded in NY, and became one of three Managing Partners in 2016. She knows the team incredibly well, is a brilliant, intuitive creator of programs, and is highly trusted by clients and hosts. 

Melanie joined us in 2010 as Communication Manager. She became a Partner in 2014 and a Managing Partner at the start of this year. Most recently she has led our relationship with the Climate Champions for COP 26 and 27 and earned huge respect for the leadership, collaboration and optimism she has brought to the climate world. 

Together, they are excited to lead LQ into a wonderful next chapter and look forward to reconnecting with you.

LQ has been at the heart of my life for more than two decades. I am deeply grateful and beyond proud of what we’ve achieved together. Extraordinary friends and colleagues from all corners have shaped how I see the world and — I hope — made me a better person along the way. I look forward to continuing to support the work, and to building new opportunities together with many of you. This is not a goodbye, but rather the next step of LQ’s (and my own) journey.  

Warm regards,


Leaders’ Quest taps Regenerative business leader Kim Coupounas to join as core Partner

Leaders’ Quest taps Regenerative business leader Kim Coupounas to join as core Partner

Leaders’ Quest, a global social enterprise known for its pioneering collaborations such as TED Countdown and Count Us In, has appointed Kim Coupounas to its senior leadership team. During its 21 years of existence, LQ has built an engaged global network of exceptional people committed to cultivating wise leaders for a regenerative future for humanity and the planet. 

A seasoned business leader in both the private and public sector, Coupounas brings deep knowledge and understanding of global impact work and systems change and a profound commitment to mobilizing the power of business to shape a regenerative future.

“LQ’s work to cultivate courageous business leaders and foster game-changing collaborations to address today’s complex global social and environmental challenges is needed like no other time in our history,” said Coupounas. “LQ’s work is centered in both reality and optimism, and it is literally changing the course of the future. What an honor to be able to join this incredible global team to help forward their vision and work while leveraging my own deep passion for amplifying the power of business to advance an equitable and regenerative future for humanity and our planet. ”

“We’re absolutely thrilled that Kim has chosen to bring her exceptional experience, wisdom, passion, and reach to our global team,” said Lindsay Levin, Founder and CEO of Leaders’ Quest. “Kim is a powerhouse leader who will bring courageous, out of the box systems-thinking mixed with an entrepreneur’s spirit to our work of growing wise leaders for a regenerative future and tackling big global challenges. Kim is a highly respected leader within the global sustainable business community, and we can’t wait to see the magic she weaves as part of the Leaders’ Quest team.”

Coupounas is joining Leaders’ Quest at a moment of tremendous growth and opportunity for the organization. In her role on the senior leadership team, Coupounas will be a highly visible LQ Partner focused on furthering the organization’s game-changing collaborations and partnerships, design and delivery of LQ’s trademark leadership programs, client engagement, public advocacy, organizational leadership, and business development. 

Prior to Leaders’ Quest, Coupounas was an instrumental leader in the growth of the B Corp movement. She served as a senior executive at B Lab, the nonprofit behind B Corps, for over 8 years and focused on advancing stakeholder-based capitalism while activating business leaders and companies to operationalize sustainable and regenerative principles and to use their collective power and voice for systemic change. 

At B Lab, she co-led the largest mobilization of companies in history committed to Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Prior to B Lab, Coupounas served as co-founder and CEO of GoLite, a purpose-driven outdoor products brand that was one of the earliest Certified B Corps. Coupounas is also past Board Chair of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), the trade association representing the $887 billion+ active outdoor recreation industry, during which she helped launch and lead that industry’s groundbreaking sustainability efforts. 

Coupounas earned MBA and MPA degrees from Harvard University, an AB with honors in Philosophy from Princeton, and attended Oxford University as a Rotary Foundation Graduate Scholar. She has received many awards, including being named Conscious Company’s “2020 World-Changing Woman.”

The inner game of leadership: Why it’s key to unleashing action for a healthy, sustainable world

The inner game of leadership: Why it’s key to unleashing action for a healthy, sustainable world

Melanie Jamieson

In May, I attended ChangeNOW, the world’s largest conference for the planet aimed at spotlighting 1,000 innovative solutions over three days. It was a hive of activity. A glimpse into a fast-growing ecosystem of initiatives with the aim to reach a healthy, sustainable world with speed, scale and justice.

I was asked to share my thoughts on what’s needed to turn these creative solutions — alongside myriad commitments, pathways, and partnerships that are announced every day — into collective action at scale. 

I think we need an upgrade in our human software — in the way we lead, and how we collaborate. 

For millennia, human beings have evolved at a slow and steady rate that’s served us well. We’ve become good at working with people who look like us and think like us; on local issues that we can see, touch, and experience.

But this pace of evolution is out of sync with the rapid change we’re now grappling with in the Anthropocene — the period in which human activity is the dominant force of change on Earth’s ecosystems.

To limit global warming to 1.5°C, we need an unprecedented level of collaboration across countries, citizens, corporations, industries, and civil society. This kind of radical collaboration is hard because it involves working across divides — borders, sectors and communities — with people who see and experience the world very differently from each other.

This ability to work effectively with difference is a leadership muscle that human beings need to evolve — and fast. So how can we speed up our own evolution?

At Leaders’ Quest, we’ve learned over the last 21 years that the fastest way to grow as adults is through experiential learning. Based on this philosophy, we take leaders on ‘Quests’ to immerse them in unfamiliar environments, and spend time engaging with inspiring changemakers driving impact across business and society.

We think of a Quest as a window to the world, and a mirror for oneself. Exposure to the forces shaping the future, coupled with time for deep reflection, opens the doorway to personal insight. It creates the chance to reflect on our ‘inner game of leadership’, as Bill Adams and Bob Anderson describe it.

Our ‘inner game’ is what we hold in our consciousness. In other words, it is our interior operating system — what drives us, how we define ourselves, what we believe. It’s what we use to make sense of the world. It informs how we act, and how we shape life around us. 

“Great leadership transcends skill, capability, and competence. It includes integrity, honesty, passion, vision, risk-taking, compassion, courage, authenticity, collaboration, self-awareness, selflessness, endurance, humility, intuition, and wisdom. These are qualities of the inner game.” Bill Adams & Bob Anderson

However, in a fast-changing world, there are fierce demands on our ‘outer game’ — our knowledge, skills and technical expertise. It’s the dimension that we spend much of our lives honing in education, training and leadership development. It’s also the one that leaders in sustainability typically focus on as they come to grips with how to transform their companies, cities and communities.

Yet our inner game RUNS our outer game. What’s happening on the inside shapes how we experience the world, and the actions we choose to take. This means that innovative technical solutions won’t solve the climate crisis alone. We must put equal focus on how we lead and collaborate (our ‘inner game’), so we can turn powerful ideas into implementation at scale.

For me, this means evolving our inner game in two key ways:

Firstly, we need to shift our mindsets to a regenerative worldview that puts life at the centre of all decision-making. Becoming regenerative is about asking ourselves how we can leave things better than we found them. It means “reimagining a world where the human economy and the natural economy work in harmony with each other”, as Futures Practitioner Bill Sharpe says. In practical terms, it means leading from a mindset of ‘doing more good’ (instead of ‘doing less bad’) in our companies, cities and communities.

Secondly, we need to develop inner qualities to work more effectively across divides. Adam Kahane, in his book ‘Collaborating with the Enemy: How to Work with People You Don’t Agree With or Like or Trust’ says effective collaboration alternates between the polarities of engaging and asserting. 

Through this lens, I see radical collaboration as a dance between building human connection and driving bold action. In practice, this means flexing our inner game across a spectrum of qualities that build empathy (respect, humility, generosity) and propel action (courage, purpose, resilience) to help people move forward together. It’s these ‘inner game’ qualities that we need to scale if we are going to step up to the challenges humanity is facing. 

So, as I looked out across the ChangeNOW conference, I was asked what small (or big) action everyone should take. The 1% change that scales if we all do it. 

My invitation is that we each build a bridge with someone who sees the world differently — perhaps even someone we don’t agree with, like or trust. Take the time to listen deeply, build empathy by sharing stories, and spend time seeing life through their eyes. Build a foundation of respect and connection — even if you don’t agree with everything you hear.

Climate action at scale requires wise leadership… and only by maturing our inner game can we build the radical collaboration skills to get us to a healthy, sustainable future for all.

Carbon credits should be one of our best tools to fight climate change — if we use them right

Carbon credits should be one of our best tools to fight climate change — if we use them right

The market for carbon offsets is booming, and a series of efforts have sprung up to define rules and standards that will tackle their often dodgy reputation. Global agreement on those rules is crucial to achieving a net-zero future and essential to helping avert the looming climate catastrophe.

In an Op-Ed for TIME Ideas, TED Global Curator and TED Countdown co-founder Bruno Giussani and Gabrielle Walker, founder of the climate consultancy Valence Solutions, highlight how carbon markets can bring about meaningful climate action.

Read the full article.

Experiencing transformation with Chance for Life

Experiencing transformation with Chance for Life

A contingent of Leaders’ Quest team members and clients visited the headquarters of Chance for Life, a Detroit-based nonprofit that provides behavioral and life skills training to incarcerated and returning citizens. LQ met with several individuals whose lives have been transformed thanks to interventions by co-founders Tom Adams and Jessica Taylor, and their staff.

The visit coincided with Chance for Life’s From the Heart Fundraiser, a benefit dinner held May 19 that brought together philanthropists, policymakers, business leaders, and several returning citizens for an evening of inspiring conversation and celebration.

Visiting Chance for Life

LQ spent the next day with Adams and his team, starting with a tour of Detroit’s historic and diverse neighborhoods before visiting two Chance for Life facilities. The visit featured powerful, robust group conversation centered on Chance for Life’s mission and first-hand accounts from returning citizens about their journeys of transformation and resilience.

D’Angelo Rocklin Jackson, an entrepreneur now based in Los Angeles, shared a letter by his father, Everett Rocklin Jackson, a Chance for Life member currently incarcerated in Michigan, titled “Journey of a Father Behind Bars.”

The letter reads:

Hello, everyone. My name is Everett Rocklin Jackson, and I would like to share with you my experience of being a father while in prison. I have been incarcerated for the past thirty-five years; I was twenty-one years old when I came to prison. Parenting from behind bars has its own unique challenges, but is achievable with support from a strong network of loving family and friends — it certainly takes a village. My son, DeAngelo, is a wonderful example of what the collective power of a village can produce through love, encouragement, guidance, and lots of prayer. I am grateful he is there today sharing some of our story with you.

Two weeks before my son’s third birthday I was arrested for a drug-related murder. Eights months later I was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Locked up with plenty of time on my hands I began thinking about how my absence would impact my son’s life and the emotional and mental strain it would likely impose on us both. I wanted to save my son from feeling like I had when my father wasn’t around. I knew too well the challenges my son would face in my absence, and being present in his life would be the only way I could save him. And the only way I could save myself, too. Although my presence in DeAngelo’s life would eventually help shape him into a good man, his presence in my life had already begun to shape me into a better man.

Due to my family’s unconditional love and support I was always able to speak to my son by telephone and see him on visits. Our relationship would be built phone call by phone call, visit by visit, letter by letter, picture by picture, gift by gift, hug by hug, smile by smile, and occasionally tear by tear.

Celebrating birthdays and special occasions called for thinking up something that would deliver a lasting impact. I remember when DeAngelo was about five years old and I bought lots of candy from the prison store and sent it to him for Halloween. The candy box and other gifts became repeat practices each year. I would also send clothes and unique shoes I purchased for him. I began sending him various books, too. When my son was about twelve years old I purchased us twin dictionaries to study together.

During the school year I would write letters to DeAngelo’s teachers, explaining I was in prison but still an active parent interested in my son’s educational progress. I always received a copy of his report cards and would tell him how proud I was of him when he got good grades; or, if a grade was low how I expected an improvement the next marking period.

On the surface our story reflects a father behind bars who loves his young son and helps decode the world for him. Yet, unfolding beneath the surface of this shared human drama are the spiritual paths of a father and son. Our story is about transformation, healing, and learning important life lessons like patience, forgiveness, forbearance, and the true meaning of family.

Striving to be “present” as a parent while being incarcerated has helped me heal from my own childhood wounds and other past hurts. I’ve learned we can heal ourselves by learning to give to our children (and ourselves) what we were deprived of in our childhood. Being an active parent has been a double reward because I now see my son giving to his children the very thing he did not receive from me: the blessing of a father’s physical presence. DeAngelo showers his children with love, affection, and presence. His fatherhood experience is helping him heal from the childhood wounds created from my physical absence. Spiritually we are continuing to grow as a family.

I am also blessed to be a grandfather and I love my grandchildren with all my heart. I feel truly blessed to have such a wonderful family! God has been and continues to be so good to me! Parenting from prison is challenging, but its rewards are truly greater! Thank you for listening and may you be blessed!