On January 20th, we hosted Charlie Felgate at our 2023 Winter Campus. He spoke to us about regenerative leadership and how he has integrated it into his professional and personal life.
"I discovered regenerative leadership only two years ago. I was on a visioning exercise where we had asked the question, 'Today, CSR just allows us to do less worse, finally?' I started to look for what exists that could make a company have a positive impact on the planet and on people. We went looking for models that have the virtue of being positive, and what we found was nature. In fact, regenerative leadership puts the living at the center of the model and the company must then align itself with nature. I am convinced that there will be no regenerative business if we do not have regenerative leaders. We have to become, ourselves, aligned with nature.
One might think here of a company called Interface. Interface is an American company that melts carpet tile. Ray Anderson is the founder, and in 1994, he had this vision that his company would have no future if it didn't align with nature. Now, 28 years later, Interface is perhaps the model that has the least impact on the planet, but also replicates the actions of nature through biomimicry. Their latest factory in Amsterdam operates somewhere like a forest. Of course, it's not perfect, to work exactly like nature, all stakeholders would have to work and walk in symbiosis with it, we're not there yet.
If you look at a business like permaculture, for example, or even perma-businesses in general, you're going to start talking about things that are counter-cultural in business and counter-behavioral, like self-regulating and setting boundaries. It's not easy today for the company to set limits because it's oscillating in a growth environment, but nature doesn't do that. It regulates itself and therefore, we must learn to accept this message, to set limits and to regulate ourselves to ask questions: "What is the right level of profit? How many dividends? How OK am I going to be to reinvest the value created fairly in the environment and in society?"
In 2015, we discovered the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that we all know about. In fact, it's kind of the business plan for humanity. There is a level of awareness that has taken hold, but ultimately, people were not wired enough to process them, to solve them. They were seen as technical, cerebral challenges, not as the challenges of compassion and empathy.
The Inner Development Goals are 23 behavioral skills that will help us tremendously to visualize these issues in a different way. It's not going to be easy or comfortable to change perspectives, because you have to ask yourself some pretty big questions that may challenge your own freedom, however, you're going to have to go for it."