Still Moving: How To Lead Mindful Change, with Deborah Rowland

My guest today is Deborah Rowland, a leading thinker, speaker, writer, coach and practitioner in the leadership of large complex change. Deborah has devoted her 3-decade career to the study, practice, and dissemination of effective ways to lead true transformation that takes individuals, teams, organizations and indeed whole societal systems to a genuinely new place.

Working alongside CEOs and their Executive Teams to help them navigate large scale transformation efforts, and importantly, attend to their own leadership practice as part of that, Deborah has personally led change in major global organizations including Shell, Gucci Group, BBC Worldwide and PepsiCo.

In 2017, Deborah was named on Thinkers50 Radar as one of the generation of management thinkers changing the world of business. Her consulting firm, Still Moving, pioneered original research in the field, the latest efforts of which were accepted as a paper at the 2016 Academy of Management and at the 2019 European Academy of Management. I found her in a wonderful book called, The Chief Strategy Officer Playbook: How to Transform Strategies Into Great Results.

Deborah brings a unique combination of experience, insight and research to the leadership of change. Although there has been much research on the benefits of mindfulness to the individual, Deborah’s research is original, focusing on the business impact. Her latest book, Still Moving: How to Lead Mindful Change, offers practical examples of how to bring a higher level of awareness into your company.

In addition to consulting, speaking and writing, Deborah has contributed to faculty teaching at Business Schools such as Henley Management College, Tuck, and Bath Management School.

Don’t be confused about mindfulness – you don’t have to be a meditation student or yoga instructor to understand it. Mindfulness is like a muscle that you build. It’s a stake you put in the ground that you say, my reaction to events is more important than the event itself. Mindfulness requires skill and is worth knowing about and building it into your repertoire.

For now, if you want to explore Mindfulness in a new way, and if you want to learn from a high-level Master, this conversation is the perfect place to start.


As modern leaders in a fast paced and complex world you will learn: 

  • A mindful leader understands that stillness brings correct action and momentum
  • A mindful leader observes and in this process brings change
  • A mindful leader has difficult conversations and can make hard decisions
  • A mindful leader is aware and awake and is integrated
  • A mindful leader is better able to work with complexity because they will understand the whole
  • A mindful leader will be able to work with discomfort better
  • A mindful leader is more impactful to the business and those around them
  • A mindful leader is able to navigate organizational boundaries better
  • A mindful leader has discernment of mindless busy action
  • A mindful leader understands the imperative of wisdom

Books Published:

Resources Mentioned in Podcast:

  • The Chief Strategy Officer Playbook: How to Transform Strategies Into Great Results, published by Brightline Initiative|Thinkers50|PMI Institute, 2018.
  • The overview effect is a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from outer space. The term and concept were coined in 1987 by Frank White, who explored the theme in his book The Overview Effect — Space Exploration and Human Evolution (Houghton-Mifflin, 1987), (AIAA, 1998)
  • Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software, by Steven Johnson | Sep 10, 2002
  • Santa Fe Institute – Science for a complex world. The Santa Fe Institute is an independent research center dedicated to the multidisciplinary study of the fundamental principles of complex adaptive systems, including physical, computational, biological, and social systems.
  • The Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work, by Joseph Campbell (Author), Phil Cousineau (Editor). Part of The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell, 2014.
  • The Two Popes is a 2019 biographical drama film directed by Fernando Meirelles and written by Anthony McCarten, adapted from McCarten’s 2017 play, The Pope.
  • Jesuits are members of The Society of Jesus, a Roman Catholic order of priests and brothers founded by Ignatius of Loyola with the approval of Pope Paul III in 1540 and headquartered in Rome.
  • Pope Francis (born Jorge Mario Bergoglio; 17 December 1936) is the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State. Francis is the first
  • Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first pope from outside Europe since the Syrian Gregory III, who reigned in the 8th century.
  • David Whyte is an English poet, author, speaker and organizational thinker. He has said that all of his poetry and philosophy is based on “the conversational nature of reality”.

This episode is sponsored by the CIO Innovation Forum, dedicated to Business Digital Leaders who want to be a part of 20% of the planet and help their businesses win with innovation and transformation.

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