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Sharp Synthesizes Over a Decade of Best Practices in Integrating Transformational Leadership

What is the most effective way to lead change? Some would argue for a top-down approach focused on execution, while others believe in an intrinsic, sense-and-respond style.

For Leith Sharp, director of executive education at Harvard University’s Center for Health, the answer is that organizations need both a command control operating system and adaptive sensing capability to lead transformation in the 21st century.

“The challenge for adaptive organizing champions is to learn both languages,” said Sharp. “A healthy command control is putting purpose first earnestly so the whole system can survive.”

“Daily life can feel like a hurricane,” said Peter Trillingsgaard, VP of government and public affairs at LEGO, who attended the workshop. “I come here to provoke my leadership to dare to take a chance.”

Workshop attendees shared how they would experiment with this new model of transformational leadership. Many said they were inspired to go back to their organizations and design opportunities for formal operating structures and generative networks to come together.

Sharp encouraged the Sustainable Brands community to affect larger, systems-level change by igniting a learning lab around transformational leadership. As director of the Illinois Green Economy Network, a partnership of colleges convened to promote green economic growth, she knows the value of creating a network of people with common goals across different organizations.

“Together, as a Sustainable Brands community, you can surface new needs and locate new alliances,” Sharp concluded, and encouraged attendees to check in with each other on progress over the next year.


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