It can be overwhelming to read the news these days. Although the urgency for action on climate change is becoming more widely recognized, it seems like we are moving further and further away from realizing an equitable and sustainable world. The list is long: Increasing carbon emissions, disappearing insects and ice, and record-breaking climate extremes coupled with stories about discrimination, harassment, injustice, exclusion, corruption, exploitation, and greed. These stories can make the most optimistic of us feel despondent. Current responses to global problems are clearly inadequate, but what can we do?
Some say look inwards and others say look outwards. Monica Sharma tells us to do both. In her new book, Radical Transformational Leadership: Strategic Action for Change Agents, Monica presents a practical, results-oriented guide to creating a profound paradigm shift—a shift that results in a thriving planet that supports well-being for everyone. Drawing on over twenty years of experience working on scaling out health interventions through the UN system, Monica is familiar with the resistance, pushback and setbacks that cause many people to feel frustrated and burn out. Her work emphasizes the importance of sourcing our universal values of dignity, compassion, and equity to shift systems and culture and create measurable results.
Interview with Monica Sharma
Monica Sharma speaks with cChange’s Karen O’Brien and Glenn Page from SustainaMetrix about the new book.
Monica Sharma’s conscious full-spectrum response approach recognizes the potential for everyone to contribute to a sustainable future. Universal values, she emphasizes, apply to everyone and exist in everyone, whether they are aware of it or not, and they offer us radical power and potential to contribute to equitable and sustainable transformations. The three essential and intertwined components of a conscious full-spectrum approach are:
- sourcing inner capacities and universal values for action – acting from our oneness;
- shifting systems and cultural norms, creating new patterns, BEING a principled game changer; and
- solving problems.
This approach is designed to generate responses that connect personal transformation to societal and planetary transformation. It enables change agents to see patterns and disrupt systems and cultures that perpetuate inequitable and unsustainable outcomes. Monica reminds us that being a paradigm shifter requires us to embody values, rather than just talking about them.
Leaders are everywhere
Her book contains dozens of stories showing that every single person has the capacity to be a principled game changer. “Every act of courage, compassion, and service for all awakens a new story, a new possibility for healing on the planet” (p. 85). In this book, she demystifies complex strategy and planning processes, taking them from the realm of experts, elites, and leaders to include all individuals. The role of people in transformational change moves from apathy or token participation to active engagement and leadership.
Monica’s work has been both the foundation and inspiration for the Three Spheres of Transformation, and for the work that cCHANGE is doing to engage and activate people as the solutions to climate change and other sustainability challenges. The practical, political and personal spheres of transformation are our interpretation of Sharma’s conscious full-spectrum approach; it recognizes the relationship between the immediate causes of the problem, the systems and cultural causes, and the underlying causes, which lie in the mindsets through which we approach, analyze, interpret and address problems, and the values through which we operate in our everyday lives.
Generating social tipping points
Society has never experienced transformations at the rate, magnitudes, scale and depth that is currently called for by a collective commitment to the Paris Agreement. Does that mean it is impossible? No. In Radical Transformational Leadership, Monica Sharma reminds us that “If we want something we have never had, we must do something we have never done before to produce results” (p. 27). This means understanding the visible and hidden sources of action, creating new norms and patterns, and connecting with who we truly are to shift what is not working and generate a world that works for everyone. Monica explains how we can generate the social tipping points for a new paradigm to emerge. More importantly, she shows that each one of us can be a radical transformational leader.