Archives for December 2015

Contemplating a Leadership that Serves the Greater Good

Emerge Cover_finalRobert Greenleaf, the ATT Executive and Quaker who coined the phrase “servant-leader” in the early 70s, relied heavily on intuition in doing so. He’d read Herman Hesse’s “Journey to the East” and the result was a belief in a type of leadership that was intent on growing the leadership skills of those led, with the ultimate goal that those led, also desired to serve.  Servant-leadership is a core principle of the EMERGE Leadership Model, and in this season where we are drawn to quiet but driven to nearly frantic activity it is something to contemplate.

And I don’t use the term “contemplate” lightly.  Contemplation, to paraphrase Thomas Merton, heals the division in ourselves, which enables us to help heal the divisions of the world.  (From Merton’s Choosing to Love the World, 2008, 30).  For us to lead from the place Greenleaf imagined, we need to be self-aware, which takes a regular practice of self-awareness (Go figure.) In my new book “EMERGE: A Strategic Leadership Model for the Sustainable Building Community (Publication Date, January 2016), I discuss the importance of finding time for a daily practice that quiets the mind and prepares us to connect with others meaningfully, every day. This practice can be as simple as asking the question: “How can I serve?”  and waiting quietly for the answer before going out about the day.  My practice includes a daily (but short) contemplative session, regular exercise, and frequent participation in a fellowship that supports my spiritual growth.  Yours is yours to design.

Bill O’Brien, CEO of Hanover Insurance (and no relation), has been quoted saying, “The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener” (Scharmer and Kaufer 2013, 18). And have no doubt, as leaders in the sustainable building community we are intervening. So in the midst of this season of high energy output (and low energy input!), let us contemplate on how in 2016 we can serve the greater good, and how we can better prepare ourselves to do so.

The EMERGE Leadership Workshop at Islandwood Environmental Education Center offers an excellent setting in which to contemplate, energize, connect with like-minded pilgrims, and learn.  We’re in the final stages of planning, so register now at:

If you have a leadership headache, we prescribe EMERGE

KO-Introvert-Chapter 1The next EMERGE Leadership Workshop for green building professionals and advocates is scheduled for January 8-10, 2016. If you seek help with leadership development this program is for you.

Over 200 professionals and advocates in the sustainability field have attended the EMERGE Leadership Workshop. They’ve come with leadership headaches they wanted to address, and left with solutions.  Just a few examples:

A municipal green building team leader’s ideas get the attention they deserve: “I’m now the go-to person for my City.”  City of Kirkland Planner, David Barnes.

A non-profit director launches a new program bringing energy and water savings to affordable multi-family housing: “The launch of the RENEW program realizes our mission…to reach deep into the current affordable building stock in the Puget Sound Region.” Emerald Cities Director-Seattle, Steve Gelb

An architect publishes research on the relationship between behavior and energy and presents it in national and international venues: “We absolutely know how to design buildings and neighborhoods that promote well-being and abundance, but behavior is the wild card.” Kreigh Architecture’s Principal, Julie Kriegh

A project manager finds a new position combining her expertise in green building with her love for sports: “My new job is to place Washington on the international outdoor recreation for mountain biking. Among other things, land preservation and trail building projects will be a part of my job.”  Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance’s new Executive Director, Yvonne Kraus

An environmental activist spearheads an initiative to fund a grassroots project building climate resilience and sustainability: “We are very excited about Cool Blocks LA! We are hoping this project will bring together teams of LA neighbors and support them in building climate- and water-wise, resilient, and socially connected communities across LA, block by block.”  Neighborhood Council Sustainability Alliance Chair, Laura Mack

An international engineering firm’s sustainability director begins to infuse integrative design concepts into project planning, benefitting the Intesa Sanpaolo Bank’s Headquarters in Turin, one of the first high rise towers to achieve LEED Platinum rating in Italy.  “The team was willing to try, even if we weren’t able to apply the ideal integrative design process perfectly, and that made an incredible difference in what we were able to accomplish.” Jacobs’ Sustainability Director, Greg Kight

A real estate investment analyst and educator co-authors a year-long study investigating the relationship between energy efficiency, green certification and home value in the Pacific Northwest.  (Turns out its positive.) “The study is groundbreaking in that it is the first study nationally to check energy efficient/green certified listings with the certification programs, as well as breakdown data results by MLS geographic areas, making the results particularly significant to appraisers, lenders, real estate brokers and of course our green building community.” SEEC LLC  Principal, Fiona Douglas-Hamilton

Says Kathleen O’Brien, Executive Director of The EMERGE Leadership Project: “Truly special people are drawn to EMERGE. They believe in the value of working towards true sustainability…and they feel compelled to lead in the effort. EMERGE turns out to be the boost they need to take that ‘special’ further.”

You can do it. Register for the next EMERGE workshop:



Scholarships for Not-for-Profit Organizations to Attend EMERGE: Deadline 12-15

IScenario Teams6f you work for a not-for-profit focused on sustainability in the built environment in Kitsap County/Bainbridge Island, or King County, you may qualify for a scholarship to attend the upcoming EMERGE Leadership Workshop January 8-10, 2016.  Deadline for applying is December 15th. Interest is high; scholarships are limited. Funding for scholarships provided through GiveBig and One Call for All/Bainbridge donations.  For more information:


Last Call for Islandwood

Suspension BridgeThe EMERGE Leadership Workshop has been held annually at the Islandwood Environmental Education Center since 2011. This January will be the sixth and last workshop planned at the LEED Gold Learning facility. So if you have a special desire to spend a weekend with like-minded green building professionals and advocates focused on developing leadership skills and connections in this incredibly beautiful natural setting, this is the time.  Register at:

Future EMERGE leadership workshops will be conducted at venues and with audiences secured by client hosts. More information about this new delivery opportunity for the EMERGE Leadership Workshop (and other educational opportunities) will be posted on the EMERGE Leadership Project website in the New Year.