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Aligning outer progress with inner growth: consistent leadership styles for sustainable success

Have you ever noticed how two people can use the same phrase to describe entirely different concepts? It’s like speaking two different languages within the same conversation.

Take, for example, the term “team player.” For one person it might mean following orders without question and doing what needs to be done even if she/he doesn’t want to
. Whereas the othe person interprets this as sharing ideas, listening to each -particularly if we disagree – and working together collaboratively.

Fascinating, isn’t it? These distinct interpretations illuminate the diversity in leadership styles: Command & Control vs. Involvement.

Recently, I have been highlighting those two leadership models for a company that I am helping to scale their sustainability efforts. One leadership model is working well in a top down hierarchy and the other in a flat structure. One is useful in time bound situations like sports or emergency. The other works best for creativity, psychological buy-in, and if you as a leader need them – your people – to make it work.

The illustration of those to models shall help the current leaders of the company to choose the governance that feels right for them and befits the purpose of their ambition.

Once you know what model you wish to scale your organisation with, one can generate a people profile with desired characteristics and skills that is consistent with the leadership style. With this clarity, the company can either train, retain or recruit the matching people into the organisation.

Inner development

And whatever choice the leaders of the company that I am consulting will make, it will ask from them an internal movement. Either model will require them to shift their mindset and behave differently compared to what they have operating up until now.

This is a brilliant example of an outward change needing to be matched by an internal progress. An involution mirrored by an evolution, like the motion in an lemniscate. Frank spoke about this in his newsletter in the context of Internal Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals.

In the case of scaling their business successfully, those two founders will be invited to direct their look inwards and compassionately embrace any discomfort that they might feel with the new way of working.

Because let’s face it, change is uncomfortable for most of us. Change implies a kind of “death” to whatever we are used to up until now. Change asks us to adjust and practice something new, which demands will power. And that drains energy. Now if the desired change is driven by intrinsic motivation it becomes automatically more energetic. Because if we do something that is truly important to us, we tap into a kind of energy source that connects us to something bigger than ourselves.

With this momentum we sling from the loop of the inner development to the outer movement. When we experience outer progress we feel motivated, which is another energy boost. From that thrust we loop back to our intrinsic motivation of doing what fulfils us and contributing to something meaningful. With this back and forth motion we reach a state of a perpeteum mobile that fuels sustainable change that nurtures us and the outer world.

The inner and outer movement in an infinity sign.

This is the state of loving change for sustainable tomorrow’s


In conclusion, the next time your sustainability efforts face obstacles in the organization and people seem to be talking about the same topic in different ways, they might be operating from different viewpoints on change. And there might be a need to balance personal growth with progress of the organization.

Please let us know what you think, we would love to hear from you at sendlove at heartwork dot earth.

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