In 2009, as the world was reeling from one of the most profound economic crises in our lifetimes, Ronald Heifetz and co-authors wrote:
“It would be profoundly reassuring to view the current economic crisis as simply another rough spell that we need to get through. Unfortunately, though, today’s mix of urgency, high stakes, and uncertainty will continue as the norm even after the recession ends. Economies cannot erect a firewall against intensifying global competition, energy constraints, climate change, and political instability. The immediate crisis . . . merely sets the stage for a sustained or even permanent crisis of serious and unfamiliar challenges.”
Nearly a decade later, the world continues to face “serious and unfamiliar challenges.” This reality is especially true for corporate social responsibility and sustainability strategists, who keep track of and manage a never-ending stream of social, governance and environmental issues.
During the 2018 Leaders Forum retreat, member companies reflected collectively on how to practice what Heifetz et al call “adaptive leadership.” As Heifetz writes, what adaptive leaders do is “seize the opportunity of moments like the current one to hit the organization’s reset button. They use the turbulence of the present to build on and bring closure to the past. In the process, they change key rules of the game, reshape parts of the organization, and redefine the work people do.”
The Sixth Annual Leaders Forum retreat brought members together to learn from each other approaches for stepping up to these challenges. Select discussions were led by special provocateurs, including Ambassador Christopher Hill and Co-Founder of FRED Leadership, Richard (Rocky) Kimball. The retreat also gave members a chance to engage in peer consulting sessions, and discussions on radical collaboration, sustainability reporting, and cultivating leadership for problem solving.