Nature Inspired Leadership Lessons for Today’s World

Leading from the Roots

Living Systems Organizations

Leading from the Roots is the paradigm for leadership in the 21st century. Instead of looking for quick fixes, this book takes a holistic approach to organizations through the lens of nature.

What would change if you thought about your organization as a living system?

Organizations are interdependent living Systems.

Instead of top down organizational chart with fewer people at the top, think of your organizational chart as a tree. The tree is anchored through the soil, sun and rain as part of the larger environment, not separate from it. Front line staff are the leaves and play a critical role in converting energy from the sun into life-giving resource.

Organizations can no longer act like a machine.

Job descriptions typical list duties and responsibilities that the position needs to perform. Mechanistic organizations are all about the parts. With a living system, it’s about the whole and how people connect to others and the external environment. Job duties focus on outcomes instead of duties.

Feedback loops and Adaption are key.

A living organization is in constant change. Instead of driving change down the hierarchy, leaders would use information and feedback to unleash adaptation to changing conditions.

Learn more about living systems.

Leading from the Roots

Nature Inspired Leadership Lessons for Today’s World

This book firmly anchors leadership in the soil of nature. It’s a foundational leadership framework that challenges our 20th century views that leadership concepts can be universally applied to all contexts. Instead of using a machine metaphor to affix leadership thought and practice, Leading from the Roots uses nature. We are living in a time of volatile, complex, and dynamic uncertainty. It is time for us to learn the lessons that nature has complied from 3.8 billion years of research and development. Nature is an interdependent, complex, dynamic and living system – just like our organizations and communities are. This book uses nature as a model, mentor, and muse to help us rethink how we practice leadership. Leading from the Roots is the paradigm for leadership in the 21st century.

Dr. Kathleen Allen

Meet Dr. Kathleen Allen

Dr. Kathleen Allen is President of her own consulting firm, Kathleen Allen and Associates. She has been working in organizations for over 22 years and consulting with organizations and leaders for over 18 years. In her consulting practice, she specializes in leadership coaching and organizational change in non-profit organizations, foundations, small to mid-sized businesses, community development, health care, higher educational institutions, and collaborative networks.

What Readers Are Saying

In an era of sound bites, top ten lists and “pointers” on leadership, Dr. Allen has made it her life’s work to understand the “why” behind great leadership practices. This perspective gives us the context necessary to understand organizational behavior on a whole new level. “Leading from the Roots” is not about the quick fix, it is about making us think holistically about organizations through the lens of the most successful system there has ever been, nature. By analyzing the natural world and applying its lessons to the complex landscape of organizations, Dr. Allen has broken the code on why different leadership techniques work and how they come together to create great results. A must-read for any enlightened leader.

Brian Myres


If you are a leader and want to deepen your impact, read this book and hire her as a personal coach! My coaching relationship with Kathy has expanded my worldview and has enriched my leadership practice.

Caren Dewar

Executive Director, Urban Land Institute Minnesota USA

When we create a world of generous organizations, everyone thrives. Dr. Kathleen Allen takes the reader on a journey to this world by painting a landscape of how high-functioning, generous organizations look based on the longest-running R&D lab on the planet—Nature. Drawing on her extensive experience in organizational development and leadership coaching, she uses her keen ability to quiet the ego and listen to nature’s core principles of life to then translate them into relevant and impactful strategies for leadership and organizational evolution to generous systems.

Daniel Lawse

Principal, Co-founder, and Chief Century Thinker, Verdis Group

Leading from the Roots provides a powerful new way of thinking about organizations as living systems and delivers practical leadership frameworks for individuals to learn how to unleash the energy and create innovative, effective teams. Dr. Kathleen Allen has identified the power of changing the metaphor of an organization from a machine that needs to be controlled by a living system that has the capacity to sustainably evolve. Taking lessons from complex biological systems, Dr. Allen system articulates the key elements that must be present and how to apply this in an organizational context. Whether bringing a fresh approach to executive transitions with the metaphor of ‘living bridges’, reminding us of the power and necessity of transparently managing tensions, or helping us ask ourselves what do we need to relinquish to move forward, Dr. Allen helps us to adapt to our rapidly changing opportunities. “Leading from the Roots” is not only thought-provoking but offers valuable exercises and questions to help us think and act differently. Leveraging the natural tendencies of living systems, we can increase the vibrancy and sustainability of our organizations and the people who power them.

Anne Bonaparte

CEO , Appthority

In Leading from the Roots: Nature-Inspired Leadership Lessons for Today’s World, Dr. Kathleen E. Allen orients leaders, organizations, and others to what is possible in the world of enterprise and in the world at large. Nature’s living systems is a bridge to the paradigmatic shift she so perceptively foresees. Allen hopes that leaders, organizations, and the workplace in general will “reimagine what an organization can become. “Leading from the Roots” provides a vision of leadership that can foster genuine, transformational change.

Read full review here.

Sandra Fluck


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