Conscious Leadership: How to create conditions for others to thrive (feat Dr. ​​Louise van Rhyn)

Jul 12, 2022

“Nobody wants unsolicited advice.” 


Yet, as leaders, we’re taught that our opinions and feedback drive our business’s success. That we must be at the head of all decision-making and take a stead-fast and assertive approach to our teams in the way we encourage and motivate them. But what if we were to turn that on its head? 


What if, instead of being an overshadowing figure, we became a co-learning partner? 


Dr. ​​Louise van Rhyn believes that by embracing the ideology of co-learning in a leadership role and making the space to understand and empathize with those around you, we can create an entirely new working environment. One where employees can feel inspired to create, participate, and give their best in their roles. 


Dr. van Rhyn is the designer of Partners for Possibility. Winner of the prestigious Thinker’s 50 award in 2021, Partners for Possibility, is a year-long program where business executives are partnered with school principals to collaborate on addressing leadership challenges within schools. 


As an innovative leadership development program for executives, the Partners for Possibility program hones their capacity to lead in a complex and unfamiliar environment by becoming co-learning and co-action partners.


In this unconventional learning experience, “they learn how to be fully present, they learn how to listen, they learn how to make a massive contribution without giving unsolicited advice.” They learn things a typical business course could never do. 


In this episode, Dr. van Rhyn shares about the change Partners for Possibility has done for business and school leaders in South Africa, the community as a whole, and the movement she hopes it continues to make into the leadership world abroad. 



Leading From Behind


With staggering poverty rates and vast inequality in education, Dr. van Rhyn realized that the region couldn’t “afford to have our business leaders sit in classrooms, listening to clever people when actually we need them working in these under-resourced communities.”


They needed an efficient way to give leaders access to education while also allowing them to learn how to inspire those coming up from behind them.


Dr. van Rhyn realized that inspiring and motivating those around you has less to do with your job title and degrees and everything to do with your humanity. 


People want to know, “how am I going to make them feel? And can I show up with genuine curiosity and interest, rather than thinking people should be listening to what I have to say?” 


Becoming co-learners and co-action partners and embracing the notion that people have more to teach you than you have to teach them is the foundation of the Partners for Possibility program.



The Pathway to a More a Conscious Leader


For Dr. van Rhyn, Partners for Possibility is more than creating a leader; it’s about creating a conscious leader. One who welcomes the thoughts, opinions, and solutions of others. And one who uses their leadership to change the world around them. 


“The most important opportunity in this program is that we are creating an opportunity for business leaders to be what we call a “development partner” for a school principal. And if they can learn how to do that for the school principal, then maybe they can learn how to do that for their colleagues and for other people in their community.”



Through this heart-centered and humanity-focused approach, Partners for Possibility holds up the mirror to the leader and asks: 


  • Who am I being as a leader? 


  • What is the impact that I’m having? 


  • Am I making the eyes of those around me shine? 


  • If their eyes are not shining, who am I being that is preventing that?


How might you answer these questions if you were to hold this mirror up to yourself?



Dr. van Rhyn also shares…


  • The full impact Partners for Possibility has had on South Africa (one million lives touched and a significant impact in more than 1600 schools!)


  • How co-learning and co-action between business and school leaders have shaped the community’s children. 


  • Why a Partners for Possibility movement could change the world



If you liked this episode, you may also benefit from hearing:




Get new episodes in your inbox

Or in your favourite app

Suggest a topic

Have a topic you want me to explore on the podcast? Share it here and we’ll explore the potential to create a future podcast episode about it!

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.