For a long time I have talked about how the base of Successful Leadership is our Psychophysiology - aka Leadership Evolution.
Understanding Leadership Evolution gives a whole new level of insight into why most businesses are struggling to succeed in the world today.
It also perfectly explains why there is so much Burnout in the world today.
However, there is another thing we are seeing to help explain the Problems we are seeing.
It is the Pioneer Legacy Problem, which sets itself opposite from how Leadership Evolution works.
Let's look through the different aspects of Leadership Evolution to help us see why we have a Pioneer Legacy Problem in Business today.
Much of my work that is written focuses on Dis-Stress and how that prevents a Leader's Success.
The reason is because Dis-Stress causes an Biological Energy Problem both for Leaders and Organizations.
When I talk about Energy, I am specifically talking about Mg-ATP, what Humans use as Energy in our bodies.
If you do not have enough Mg-ATP, you go into survival mode, and that literally blocks and prevents Creative Problem Solving and Innovation.
Much of my written work also focuses on the Leader directly simply because if a Leader is not an Exemplar, people won't follow them.
However, Leadership Evolution expands far beyond the individual.
It has been said, "As Above, So Below".
This applies in Leadership Evolution as well.
If something works in the Micro, the idea can also be seen in the Macro.
Understanding Psychophysiology led to the discovery of one the major problems with "Leadership Development" - The problem of Modularity.
This is one of the reason I don't do "Leadership Development" anymore, and instead do "Leadership Cultivation".
Part of the problem is that we see Leadership as a Hierarchy, and therefore must "Develop" that Hierarchy.
However, it doesn't work, and the Hierarchy always crumbles.
Resources need to be utilized that best aid the Ecosystem based on it's current Challenges, Strengths, and Weaknesses.
Each part of the Ecosystem must work together, and if it doesn't then the entirety will fail.
This leads me to a book that I've been reading lately and taking many Leadership Lessons from.
Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer.
It is a book that discusses Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants.
It isn't a business book, but the Evolutionary principles discussed in the book apply directly into Leadership Evolution.
Through it's lens, we can see the how the Problems of today's Business landscape have played out.
One important quote from the book is, "All Flourishing is Mutual."
If your Team is not Flourishing, then you will not Flourish as a Leader.
There is a huge emphasis on Interdependence that must be reached within our Organization's Ecosystem.
It really points to the shortsightedness of most businesses, culminating in a recent article about the Dumbest Move Leaders Could Make Going Into 2024.
What this really revealed was the Future of business - Designing a Regenerative Legacy.
Leaders and Organizations that Focus on a Regenerative Legacy will stand out and become the Future.
To understand this even better though, let's look at the alternative - a Pioneer Legacy.
The Pioneer Legacy Problem
If we go back to the book, Braiding Sweetgrass, there are a number of quotes that help us see the issues.
The Pioneer Legacy believes that, "The key to success is to get more of everything than your neighbor, and to get it faster."
Kimmerer goes further to say, "That life strategy works when resources seem to be infinite. But pioneer species, not unlike pioneer humans (and businesses), require cleared land, hard work, individual initiative, and numerous children (and employees or products/services). In other words, the window of opportunity for opportunistic species is short. Once trees (Regenerative Legacy Businesses) arrive on the scene, the pioneers' days are numbered."
Though the business related terms are ones that I added to give context to this article, you can see how this plays out.
Are Resources infinite?
Eventually there is no "land to clear".
You will run out of Total Addressable Market and Market Share.
You will eventually get blocked from other Markets, such as the many tech companies who are prevented from expanding into China.
There is only so much "hard work" you can squeeze out of people before you start to get Diminished, or worse Negative Returns.
Yes, we are seeing BOTH Diminished AND Negative Returns on Employees in Business right now.
It's called Burnout and Active Disengagement.
You can only get so many people to care about your "Initiative" as an Organization.
Your Organization's Revenue can only sustain so many Employees, Products, or Services.
But there's more to this as Kimmerer points out:
"The pioneers produce a community based on the principles of unlimited growth, sprawl, and high energy consumption, sucking up resources as fast as they can, wresting land from others through competition, and then moving on."
But what happens when there is no where else to Grow?
When there is nowhere to move onto?
What happens when you can't consume any more Energy?
This is what we are seeing in the Business Landscape.
It's called Burnout.
Employees have no more Energy (Mg-ATP) left to give.
The stores have been depleted.
Then, it's made further worse by organizations having nowhere they are able to move on to as businesses extend further around the world.
What happens next?
Looking at Nature, Kimmerer shows us:
"When resources begin to run short, as they always will, cooperation and strategies that promote stability... will be favored by evolution."
Evolution will seek Organizations that focus on cooperation (Flourishing Interdependence) and promote Stability (of the Organizational Ecosystem).
Rampant Burnout does not promote Cooperation or Stability.
Endlessly Increasing Prices does not promote Cooperation or Stability.
Technological Addiction does not promote Cooperation or Stability.
Resource Destruction does not promote Cooperation or Stability.
These are not what Evolution will seek out.
Evolution will seek out Organizations that create a Regenerative Legacy.
We must see Reality.
There is no such thing as "Limitless Growth".
We are faced with "Limited Resources".
So many Organizations are facing problems that will only get worse by keeping a Pioneer Legacy mindset.
Eventually, Businesses won't be able to Price Products higher.
Eventually, Businesses won't be able to "Grow" anywhere else.
Eventually, making Burnout worse will break Teams.
Eventually, Organizations won't be able to maintain their built-in Planned Obsolescence as they run out of Resources.
Eventually, these Businesses will collapse under the weight of their Broken Model.
One thing to keep in mind though is that "Limited Resources" does not "Limited Opportunity".
Evolution has amazing levels of Diversity and Opportunity that exist.
Just look at Nature - there are estimated to be 8.7 million species of Plants and Animals on Earth, and we've only identified 1.2 million.
However, we need to rethink the Model.
Businesses need a Regenerative Legacy Model.