Category Archives: Transformational Leadership

The Inner Work of Sustainability

This post is based on an interview with Russ Watts, PCC, NBC-HWC – lead faculty in the Institute for Transformational Leadership program Sustainability – People, Planet, Prosperity, Purpose

What is sustainability and why is it important? 

It’s the question of our times; For leaders, facilitators, coaches, managers; it seems like we’re all wondering how we can take part in this movement, a movement awareness.  It’s about maintaining a system without further degradation to achieve a net zero. Just the word sustain is to keep this system going. A lot of us in our business systems and economic systems, even our personal systems, are trying to keep or lightly improve what we already have.  What are the systems each of us are a part of?  Internal systems, (for me as a father, husband, person in the world) as well as external systems (the people and social systems, business systems that I am a part of, and this very complex global system).  From the micro of self and all the way out to the biggest macro of this very beautiful complex planet spinning around the sun, we as individuals have the power to make and shift our efforts towards sustainability and regeneration, which is at the center of sustainability, where we use our intelligences and add the elements of listening intently and respectfully so that we can stitch together the broken strands that connect us all, people, animals, nature, culture, commerce and even religions.

What are the Inner Development Goals? 

I didn’t learn about the inner development goals until I became curious about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that the United Nations (UN) created to help us as human beings be better caretakers of our social system, each other, ourselves, and our planet.  About a year ago, I learned about the Inner Development Goals (IDGs) which are framed in five different goals:  1) being and self; 2) thinking -how I think and how that process is either helpful & generative or hurtful; 3) relating, caring for others and how I can individually work with and care for individuals – humans, animals and nature around me; 4) collaborating in the complex social systems – our work environment and in our social networks that we’re in; 5) acting – being a change agent in the world and radiating the awareness that we have and then driving change in our in our world.

How does inner work impact the external environment?

I know that I’m limited in being able to help create any sort of healthy growth or healing without cultivating an inner understanding or a deepening of the frameworks I use to interact with the complex system of me, the social systems of me, and the environment. 

I’ll use the analogy of eating. As a health and wellness coach, I often see that when we eat certain things, we have a certain set of outputs.  If I look at all the ways that I eat and I act in the world from different perspectives, I see that certain things that I eat cause me to be energized or tired or have longer energy capsules like proteins.

For me, doing the inner work allows us to have a micro view of each of our actions, to have an inner compass, and apply it to the world around us.  For example, when I am authentic with a particular process and use that excitement, energy, talent, or skill in an area of the world, I can have a greater effect. Without judgment, just being able to say that I do better work over here, I might be able to activate more inside me and outside me.  If I do a lot of that inner work, I’m able to be more effective where I work, how I work, and with the talents, skills, and abilities that I work with.

What are the business benefits?

The word business brings up the idea of profit and loss, and I’m not sure that that’s a framework that’s going to work in its old form into the future. The economic systems that we’ve used in the past are based on growth and they have not taken into account externalities and a lot of those externalities are coming around to bite us. Climate change and how we extracted the things that we’ve needed to have this growth have been one sided. I believe that businesses, in order to stay competitive in the world, need to have a mindset that’s much more complex and that looks at the human systems. I see a lot of businesses right now looking at creating a chief happiness officer in the C suite, a really important role that didn’t exist 25 years ago, as the human complexity of happiness is linked directly to the supply that these humans give to the complex system of business.  Instead of just being paid to do a job, it’s about the flow, the excitement, the agility that this human system has inside the production of a widget or a thought idea out into the world in a competitive way.

As we look at competition globally, I believe that businesses need to more completely or aptly look at environmental use and abuse, as they can either bring about the degeneration of the world or its regeneration. Consumers are shifting and are looking at the systems as much more interconnected. I look at a product that needs to come from Chile in my European or American winter. I would think, wow, can I just do without? Or is the abuse and use that I have on the environment worth it? Generally, I don’t feel like I’m actually abusing, but I feel like I’m taking things from the environment to have a taste, or to have something. My consciousness has been opened up enough to say I don’t want to contribute to the edge- the weight that I am putting on the already taxed system.  

I would like to be somebody who lightens the load, so I’m looking to companies that are doing the work with me, and we’re looking at working for companies that are doing that work. Those businesses are getting better workers and better customers and they have a real edge. They are creating a more sustainable system internally and that is reflecting externally. Businesses that step up for the values that are seen as helpful for people, society, the environment, and our future, not just the bottom line this year, but multiple years and multiple decades moving forward, are the businesses that I believe are going to succeed.

How can we help others be adept in this space?

First, I feel we need to build trust and trust comes first inside ourselves. To be able to inspire and engage others in the process, it’s going to take courage, optimism, and agency. I’m really energized because I’m in a growth state where the ideas that I have are constantly being challenged in a really positive way to be able to act because my old frames are being dismantled to some degree.

The new structures and new views that we are developing currently are giving us possibilities. If we take sustainable actions or regenerative actions moving forward, we have a chance of creating a new set of systems and environments that can go beyond sustaining what we have. It can actually go towards creating a positive healthy environment. We need to challenge what we eat, how we grow, how we ship, and share ideas and items both individually and collectively.

It’s both the inner growth and the inner learning and the influence in larger systems to radiate out into the people who we manage, direct, and those who look up to us for answers.  We have a responsibility to do something. I believe that we all can take that step forward and grow intellectually, emotionally, and I’ll even be radical and say spiritually, feeling that connection to more than just us.  This will help us do the change that’s necessary to help us survive this next growth, this next challenge that’s in front of humanity.

To learn more about how to explore the intersection of inner work and sustainability, sign up for our fall section of Sustainability – People, Planet, Prosperity, Purpose in the Institute for Transformational Leadership

Creating a More Sustainable Future

This post was shared by Lynn Screen, Managing Director in Georgetown’s Institute for Transformational Leadership.

Since its founding in 2012, the mission of the Institute for Transformational Leadership (ITL) has challenged us to “create a more sustainable & compassionate future”.  This mission speaks to our higher purpose and responsibility to prepare leaders who can address the issues that will lead to greater peace, environmental and economical sustainability, and a future in which human beings relate to one another with a caring approach consistent with Georgetown’s Jesuit values. During our 10th anniversary year, we are engaging our ITL community to explore the sustainability aspect of our mission.  

My first stop was to sit down with ITL Founder, Kate Ebner, one of the visionary leaders who saw the critical need for an institute that develops leaders from the inside out. Kate challenges us to reframe our individual relationship with the earth.  Instead of thinking about sustainability as things that we need to give up, “become caretakers of resources – stewards of the paces we love”.  For me, it’s Burke Lake in Burke, Virginia and Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  Since our conversation, I have found several opportunities to both contribute financially and through service to preserve these places that mean so much to me.

Georgetown University’s Jesuit Value “Care for Our Common Home” invites us to enter into a new and different “dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet.”  In addition to protecting the Earth through conservation and preservation efforts, there is also a moral imperative at play.   We recognize the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on people of color, so we are called to advance the work of environmental justice.

Kate Ebner calls on us to create a shared global vision of the future.  “Not one generation can solve this problem; it will take all generations and their unique abilities and understanding to work together. ”

As an Institute, we are committed to teaching the skills needed to see the interconnectedness of systems and to prepare people for the challenging conversations ahead.  During this year of reflection and action around sustainability, we are exploring what sustainability means in the fields of DEI, Coaching (both Leadership and Health & Wellness), Facilitation, and Organizational Development. What does sustainability look like in each of our programs? How can we do better individually and as an Institute?

In the coming months, you can expect a variety of reflections, challenges, and programming as we work to more fully live into our mission to create a more sustainable and compassionate future.  

What does sustainability mean to you individually and with respect to your chosen field?  How might you do better?


Download the ITL podcast with sustainability expert Jim Massey who inspires us to unleash the potential of people and the planet.  We explore the intersection of personal transformation, leading sustainability efforts in organizations, and some surprising ways to set off on your own sustainable journey. 

ITL Year in Review – 2021

As we close out 2021, we have much to celebrate in the Institute for Transformational Leadership (ITL). Looking back on the year, we are grateful for our community of transformational leaders: students, graduates, faculty, and staff working to create a more sustainable and compassionate future during these challenging times. 

We have done a lot in ITL this year.  We are so pleased to share these highlights:

ODCCL – The Organization Development Consulting & Change Leadership (ODCCL) program has a new name and has been redesigned to meet the moment – where concepts of work and workplace are being reimagined, where diversity, equity & inclusion and OD have become inextricably intertwined, and where OD learning and practice can be maximized via multiple modalities.

Health & Wellness Coaching – The Health & Wellness Coaching program continues to train pioneers in this emerging field – now accredited by both the International Coach Federation (ICF) & the National Board of Health & Wellness Coaching (NBHWC). We are also launching an important partnership with the Georgetown University School of Medicine using health & wellness coaching to empower unhoused populations in DC to make progress towards better health. 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) – The ITL DEI program completed cohorts 12 & 13 in 2021. We piloted new content on polarities as a way of offering students another lens through which to view DEI work. This highly sought-after program teaches the leadership skills and insights needed to support a strategic, sustainable approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion management while utilizing knowledge of oneself as an agent of change in the workplace. 

Facilitation – Our Facilitation program is leading us into the complexity and opportunity of facilitating in the hybrid workspace in addition to creatively designing for and facilitating human connection both in person and virtually. 

Leadership coaching – In 2021, we trained 5 cohorts of Leadership Coaches while launching a redesigned curriculum that prepares coaches to support and develop leaders to lead in the complexity of today’s world.  This year we partnered  with multiple organizations as a key part of a strategy to create a culture of coaching from government agencies to nonprofits and foundations.  

Professional Training Programs – We launched six new workshops in 2021:  Culturally Competent CommunicationBody Intelligence in LeadershipFrom CDO to COO: The Business of DEIEntrepreneurial Leadership CapacityCourageous Leadership in Action: No One Said It Would Be EasyBuilding Inclusive Workplaces through the Lens of Women’s Leadership

Faculty Training – We partnered with Georgetown’s Elizabeth Stanley, PhD, author of Widen the Window, to learn about how trauma might show up in our classrooms and how to teach and facilitate in a trauma-sensitive way.

Events- We celebrated the graduation of 760 students representing 31 cohorts across our five certificate programs, and the ITL Network convened our graduate community in a dynamic and moving virtual conference in November.

Partnerships & Training – We showcased our expertise in Leadership, Coaching, DEI and Organization Development through partnerships with the Department of Veterans Affairs Whole Health, AARP Purpose Prize, Georgetown University School of Medicine, USAID, the U.S. Air Force, and the National Forum for Black Public Administrators. 

As 2021 comes to an end, we wish you much love and peace!

Meeting the Moment in Organization Development

This post was shared by the faculty of the Executive Certificate in Organization Development Consulting  & Change Leadership in Georgetown’s Institute for Transformational Leadership.

Since the 1980s, Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies has been a leader in training Organization Development (OD) consultants & change leaders to support the changing dynamics of the systems they serve.  In 2021, this academic history has been leveraged in a redesign process to meet the moment – where concepts of of work and workplace are being reimagined, where diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) and OD have become inextricably intertwined, and where OD learning and practice can be maximized via multiple modalities.

We are proud to reintroduce the Executive Certificate in Organization Development Consulting & Change Leadership (ODCCL).  Some key factors that set this program apart from other types of OD training include:

Diversity of Faculty

We are thrilled to bring a 12-member faculty team to this program. At least two faculty members teach each of 8 modules which gifts students with the expertise and experience of a broad range of practitioners. Our faculty bring diversity in race, gender, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, ability, as well as in work experience. We have faculty who have worked as external consultants, as internal OD consultants, and as change leaders inside organizations. Our faculty also hail from multiple sectors — corporate, nonprofit, government, military, education, healthcare, and community organizing.

Cohort Model

Learning in community is at the heart of the program design.  Students will start and end the program in cohort with the same students who will take the entire program together. As the program is highly interactive, students will meet and work with more than 20 others who come from similar and different disciplines and backgrounds, which will deepen the learning experience.

Reflection Through Lines

The ODCCL program is greatly enhanced by five powerful themes that are woven throughout the 8-month experience.  Students will be encouraged to continually reflect on the content with the following through lines:

  1. Use of Self (including Emotional Intelligence and Embodiment)
  2. Power and DEI
  3. Polarities and Complexity
  4. Organizational Context and Culture
  5. Application by Professional Identity (external consultant, internal consultant, organizational  leader)

Multiple Modality Learning

Leveraging the lessons of 2020-2021, the ODCCL program engages students in synchronous and asynchronous modalities that maximize learning in our time apart and together. Students experience and learn multiple methodologies that support learning, dialogue and decision making — tools that can be applied to work as a practitioner.

Practical, Applied Learning

For 30 years, this has been, and continues to be, a practitioners’ program. Our faculty are all OD practitioners, and the program has been redesigned to harness the richness of the three primary streams of people this program attracts: External consultants/coaches, internal HR/OD/DEI professionals and internal change leaders. Students will be continually invited to ground what is learned in current work situations, and will benefit from hearing the perspectives of others who occupy roles different than their own. We also continue to work with real life applications of OD on current workplace challenges such as managing the polarities of returning to face-to-face work, equity and justice in the workplace, and the impact that virtual and hybrid workplaces have on engagement, supervision, management and culture. Most importantly, a cornerstone of the program is an OD project with a real client, which gives all students the opportunity to apply the learning, to work in teams, to receive coaching and support, and to learn from each other’s experiences.

Learn more about the Executive Certificate in Organization Development Consulting & Change Leadership  in the Institute for Transformational Leadership.  

The Mindset of an Entrepreneur

Each year in the Institute for Transformational Leadership (ITL), we train hundreds of coaches (leadership & health and wellness), consultants (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion & Organizational Development) and facilitators.  Many are looking to leave their previous jobs behind to chart a new path on their own.  Academic Entrepreneur Jay Markiewicz, who has trained over 1000 global practitioners of entrepreneurship,  offers his perspective and personal story to help us navigate the journey.

What advice do you have for a new entrepreneur?

It all starts with the mindset that Entrepreneurs are first and foremost empathetic problem finders. Seeing challenges, unmet needs, and opportunities from the customer’s perspective is fundamental entrepreneurship. Once we hone in on customer problems then we shift into innovative and creative solution generators. The work of the entrepreneur then, playfully stated, is to “make it up and test it.” The process of finding problems and creating solutions (making it up) must be methodically tested through customer centric experiments in order to validate what we just created (made up!). The tests and experiments are iterated based on feedback in order to optimize our concept. Growth of our startup then comes down to “repeating experiments that work!”

What should practitioners keep in mind as they make this leap?

I too set out on my own to create startups in support of working as a coach, facilitator, and consultant. What I found was that the skills, behaviors, and most importantly mindsets that I had developed as a coach (facilitator, consultant) do not easily translate to those necessary for success as an entrepreneur. There are distinct capacities that I needed to learn and develop in order to be effective as an entrepreneur. At times, it led to frustration as I had to put on a beginner hat (seriously, why wasn’t this easy!). And now to you, you got this! Don’t let the notion of being a beginner hold you back as you can learn those capacities and live your entrepreneurial dream. The journey is very rewarding and brings with it many emotional roller coasters that simply remind us that we are alive and doing it!

How can internal leaders tap into the entrepreneurial spirit?

What I have found astounding is how translatable entrepreneurship skills and mindsets are to the world of leadership. Entrepreneurs are leaders, though leaders don’t necessarily think of themselves as entrepreneurs. There is an identity that has been created called “intrapreneur” to describe the internal leader that exhibits entrepreneurial capacity. Today more than ever we need those intrapreneurs because business is operating in an ambiguous environment where complex problems and challenges are ever present. Through the years, entrepreneurs have developed capacities to navigate these situations. So translating these entrepreneurial capacities and applying them in today’s business context as an intrapreneur leader makes total sense. Entrepreneurial approaches and skills like problem solving, creativity and innovation, customer centric solutions, and empathy will enhance any leader’s toolset.

Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey.

First and foremost, I have discovered my internal compass directs me on a career path that is dynamic. I love to discover new and exciting things in service to my insatiable curiosity on how things work. This results in a career that has shifted many times in the past; nuclear engineer, officer in the Navy, leader in a fortune 100 financial services company, entrepreneur, even an ‘amateur’ athlete, and now educator…curious what’s next! From the entrepreneur standpoint, I found my inner self just urging me to make the move. So around the age of 40 and after several years of building up the courage, I put in my 2-week notice from my cushy job to step into the unknown and start a business with two partners. It was one of the greatest decisions of my life, and the scariest one too!  Since then, I’ve engaged in several startups, some of which are successful and some of which are not. I keep my entrepreneurial skills honed as a consultant entrepreneur and am always on the lookout for the next thing… In the meantime, I have found a love for supporting those who desire to follow their entrepreneurial dreams and do that by creating workshops and courses that have been delivered around the world.
Learn more about Georgetown’s professional workshop Entrepreneurial Leadership Capacity led by Jay Markiewicz.