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Give yourself permission to lead

Posted on Thursday, March 13, 2014 in Fryshuset, Innovation, Leadership, Purpose, Social Responsibility | 0 comments
Written by Kevin Ryan

In the past few years I have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours coaching, supporting, challenging and inspiring (hopefully) senior leaders to stand up for what they believe in.  Yesterday I spent the evening with Ashoka.  If you don’t know it, you should.  They are a role model and source of inspiration for me.  Listening to the speakers, all entrepreneurs who are revolutionizing their communities through both social and economic impact, I was reminded of a few key words from their founder, American Bill Drayton.

‘You have to give yourself permission to be a changemaker

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I see so many people who are capable of leading in this humanistic way but hesitate and go back to doing what they’ve always done.  Somewhere you have to draw a line in the sand, believe in yourself and go.

Songwriter David Lowery once said, ‘the world needs another folk singer like I need a hole in my head.’  In a way he’s right.  We don’t need more people to sing or talk about engagement in a better world, we need leaders who are willing to act.  We don’t need more managers who rely on their position of authority to command change.  We need people who are capable of seeing solutions despite complexity, leading with strong values, beliefs and sense of purpose.  As Drayton would say, we need leaders who give themselves permission to be changemakers.

We are at the tipping point of a major shift in the recipe for business success between a focus on efficiency to a focus on change.  Strong leaders and their organizations have found ways to be authentic, to lead with purpose and to understand their holistic impact on society.  This makes them more likely to be followed and therefore more effective when adjusting in a global environment defined by rapid system change.  The expression, ‘just business’ is now out-of-date.  We need leaders who see this change, believe in it and give themselves permission to lead it.

– I’ve seen this need at TeliaSonera when working with leaders around ethics and corruption issues from Moscow to Budapest to Washington D.C.

– I’ve seen this across retail when designing and implementing the Stadium Leadership Academy.

– I’ve seen this across big pharma at AbbVie/Abbott as a global organization fights to find the balance between profit motives and patients.

– I’ve seen this in Hi-tech at HiQ, Capgemini and others where engineers are challenged to work in teams and prioritize the value of technology to the end user.

– I’ve seen this at law firms like Setterwalls as partnership models for collective ownership are questioned and debated.

– I’ve seen this in the world of professional sports through our athletes, balancing individual performance with demanding coaches and the team’s best interests.

– I’ve seen this at Fryshuset and Svenska Downföreningen through OpenTHREAD initiatives where volunteers and employees need to have one vision to be successful.

I am convinced.  Please stand up!

Not everyone is there yet but I meet leaders everyday who we are influencing change.  On that journey THREAD has provided support and I think innovative cooperations with organizations like Fryshuset and Ashoka can help to accelerate and inspire changing attitudes and behaviours.  Together we can help more people embrace their leadership roles and give themselves permission to be changemakers.

In the end we can make businesses more successful and the world a better place,



Read more about Fryshuset here:

– Go to my blog article:  I’m in.  What about you?

– Go directly to the dagensindustri insert
Fryshuset’s website


Read more about Ashoka here:

Ashoka’s Scandinavian Website
– Watch Bill Drayton


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