The Blog

Three Leadership Lessons I Have Learned From Nature

leadership Dec 15, 2022

Nature has always shaped my personal nature and who I am as a leader. My purpose driven life holds purpose outside.


When I hike outside, I feel my best. I breathe in the fresh air and for that moment in time, I am present and present to my needs. As a busy mom of two young kids, that experience is rare and valuable. 


Working with several teams and organizations, I notice that our connection to nature can be lost and so too are the lessons. It astonishes me that we believe we are separate from the natural world. 


Not only does nature create us, we create it. How can we honour our relationship to nature and incorporate its lessons?


When I am executive coaching with my clients - we incorporate the natural world into our work. This can be done with metaphors, establishing their authentic  leader, with their advocacy work and the community impact they want to create. From working with clients, I have noticed three key leadership lessons I have learned from nature (and you can too!).


I acknowledge that I am a settler and Located on the Unceded traditional territory of the Sk̲wx̲wú7mesh Úxumixw and L̓il̓wat7úl nation. 


Here are the key leadership lessons I have learned from nature: 


  1. Nature inspires courageous connection. 
  2. Natures shows the Resilience In The Chaos
  3. Sustainability is created by Re-wilding the ecosystem


1. Nature inspires courageous connection. 


Many times, we think of nature as though it’s something different from us. We are one and the same, and the more time you spend with nature, the more in tune you’ll be with the whole ecosystem. Connection with nature enables you to think within systems. Understanding that you are not directing the system, but rather, you are a part of the system – a part of a process and a part of evolution – can bring immense clarity to a leader. You’ll truly understand how systems work, because you can see the forest, and not just trees. To take the metaphor even further: A lot of leadership is focused on individual trees, but understanding the forest (the system) is more  important. 


2. Natures shows the Resilience In The Chaos


The Chaos theory states that within the apparent randomness of chaotic complex systems, there are underlying patterns, interconnection, etc. Chaotic behavior exists in many natural systems, including fluid flow, heartbeat irregularities, weather, and climate. 

No matter the precaution or preparation, nothing can control nature. Nature teaches us that things don’t always work out. This is hugely important for leaders to understand in the workplace too. Resilience is built on this mindset. There is going to be uncertainty, and things will unfold unpredictably, but failures aren’t failures. They are part of the experiment and part of the learning process. 

Once you understand the system and your part in it, it builds resilience. If something doesn’t go quite as expected, rather than reacting, you can take the time to take a step back and engage with more insight. You learn not to blame others or look for causes to fix. Instead, you look at how the system is working and fix it accordingly. Like much of nature, it’s more adaptive. You are adapting to a system's needs, rather than intervening and changing the system. Leading is about supporting the system’s evolution, not controlling the system. 


3. Sustainability is created by Re-wilding the ecosystem


Re-wilding is a progressive approach to conservation. It's about letting nature take care of itself, enabling natural processes to shape land and sea, repair damaged ecosystems and restore degraded landscapes. Through re-wilding, wildlife's natural rhythms create wilder, more biodiverse habitats.

This lesson can apply In the workplace. As a leader,  you create a re-wilding environment of space and trust that enables people to self-direct, they’ll develop and thrive. If you see your job as a leader who controls and enforces things, there may be some short-term success, but it’s simply not as successful as enabling others to connect and self-lead. Create space for people to thrive and do the work. As a leader, it’s not helpful or productive to take it all on. Instead, create an ecosystem that works well for the organization.


When you combine these three truths - you create the foundation for effective leadership. When you see the world as a connection to nature, you’re much better prepared to lead to success.