Edited by Oliver Laasch, Roy Suddaby, R. E. Freeman and Dima Jamali
Chapter 44: Memes, transformational change, and responsible leadership
In today’s fraught world, which faces climate change and growing inequality among other ills, responsible leaders need to recognize their ethical responsibilities to work towards a sustainable, even flourishing, system for all human beings and other living beings. The need for what Stockholm Resilience Centre researchers call planetary stewardship has never been clearer. What that means for responsible leaders in all types of enterprises is that they need to understand and take action on their own organization’s impacts on society and nature to ensure that decisions and impacts are responsible, ethical, and contribute to long-term sustainability rather than the opposites of those tenets. Systemic perspectives, an understanding of connectivity, and articulation of constructive core values are fundamental to these objectives, along with a sense of taking responsibility for the whole system, not just fragments or pieces of it, by understanding and working with the nature of complex adaptive systems fraught with wicked problems. In this transition, one key is to understand the vital role that narratives and stories, with their underlying memes, play in guiding – but not dictating, which is impossible in complex wickedness – transformation processes.
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