By: Jackie Ogden
One of my favorite books of the past few years is a book called Overstory, by Richard Powers. Overstory is about a community of trees. About a love of trees. And about the nature of trees. It turns out there’s a growing body of research that suggests trees are more than…well, wood. A single tree is really part of a community of trees that apparently communicate and collaborate – at least at some level. That feel collective stress – at some level. That even, perhaps, care and support each other. And that require a healthy planet to survive.
And that’s us. Canopy Strategic Partners, that is. We’re a group of people that collaborate. Empathize with our clients’ successes and challenges. Welcome others. Promote a sense of belonging. Care and support our broader community. All in support of a healthy planet – for plants, animals, and even us pesky humans.
What’s in a name? Well, it turns out – a lot. I confess I had a bit of trepidation about the new name. I fretted it might be one that was fluffy, that wasn’t meaningful. Silly me – if I had thought more about it, I would have known not to worry. What I’ve always known about this group of people, and our leader David Walsh, is that they have substance. They’re smart. We care. We aren’t frivolous. (To be clear, we love fun. But fun doesn’t equal frivolous). We want to save the world. Honestly.
So, of course our new name has substance. And of course it’s grounded in nature. And by definition it’s about community. Because a canopy is, simply, about a community of trees. Which is…well, about inclusiveness. And collaboration.
So, I love the name. I love that this combination of community and inclusion sets the stage for great leadership. The way that we think about leadership is that it’s not about a singular voice, not about a colonial leader, not about a figurehead that people fear. Instead, great leadership is perhaps best defined by the ability to develop a community, and to do so in an inclusive way. To intentionally develop a healthy, caring culture. To lead with both head and heart.
And to do so with purpose.
Over my career, I’ve seen people compensate for a lack of great leadership. I’ve seen them substitute an abundance of ego. A wealth of intimidation. The belief that vision is best served with a dose of fear. The belief that you must lead with your head and not your heart. I’ve seen them attempt to put business practices and processes in place so that the absence of leadership skills was less apparent.
Well, I’m all for vision, and for solid business practices. But I’ve seen both fail when served alone. And we can no longer afford to fail. What if we were to combine vision, strategy, business practices, AND great leadership? What if we could begin to proudly lead with both our heads and our heart?
That is – to me – the secret of Canopy, and of David’s organization and team. We represent both head and heart. And our goal is to help our leaders achieve their mission by creating an inclusive team, painting the vision, laying out the strategy, developing the right business practices and processes, and collaboratively bringing their team along to achieve this vision.
All with the goal of saving the world. Now, who can argue with that?