“Our social systems, organizations, family and community lives are indeed living systems.”
• Nic Etheridge Calder, CPCC, ACC, MA
The idea that an organization is akin to a living system, rather than being a machine in need of repair, is one that fascinates Nic Etheridge Calder. Regenerative leadership and rewilding are concepts Nic has built into his work as a senior leader and coach for individual clients, teams and not-for-profits.
Leading in a way that aligns with the model of nature involves creating organizations which are diverse yet interconnected, ethical and cyclical, self-regulating and ever-evolving. As Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching (ORSC™) principles emphasize the evolution and inherent intelligence of systems, it’s little wonder that they also hold an appeal for Nic.
In addition to pursuing ORSC training, Nic is an ICF Associate Certified Coach (ACC) and a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC). He holds a Master of Arts in Leadership from the Royal Roads University, with a thesis focused on bridging organizational silos.
In this conversation, Nic speaks of integrating his work with his purpose, drawing on nature for inspiration, and the synchronicities between ORSC and regenerative leadership.
What fascinates Nic most right now
Regenerative leadership and the idea of rewilding organizations – it feels very emergent. There’s something that is shifting and changing in our consciousness. Some of that is a result of the disruption of COVID – the disruption of daily life and living which has had so many negative impacts on all of us. It also brings some insight and wisdom. To me, it’s opened up an opportunity for us to see what’s happening in our world, to make conscious choices about how we’re living and interacting.
It comes back to living systems thinking, rather than mechanical thinking.
I feel like an explorer in that realm. It’s great to be a coach and explore. When I’ve done my best in leadership and in working in organizations, it’s not when i’m an expert, but actually when I don’t know. I really get to engage different parts of my mind, to engage curiosity and help other people to engage curiosity. It connects to the principle that systems are naturally resourceful and intelligent.
On the advantages of ORSC
What first intrigued me about ORSC is the idea that we are working with systems, even if we’re working with individuals. To me, individuals are living systems. That’s really what drew me, the idea of using a systems-thinking lens.
When we work with organizations, they’re not mechanistic. They’re living and dynamic. When I heard about ORSC, I was like – yeah, I’m doing that one day and now I’m excited to finish the training.
There’s depth to the training. We’re actually working on a different level. Not with machines, it’s not mechanical. It’s not straightforward. It’s complex. We’re working on a deep level.
At the same time, there are practical tools. I’ll play with the tools and change them or just use it how it’s designed. Both are good options.
On his favourite tools
Top of mind is this idea of unfolding that is explored in the second course of ORSC. I’ve just been using that so much with one-on-one and with teams.
Also, tapping into other ways of gathering information or getting insight, including using the body. That really resonates with me and my practice, other channels of awareness beyond the rational world.
It’s not always instant transformation. It’s cool to see what can emerge when we tap into other ways of knowing. We’re so stuck in a thinking mindset, in organizations and just generally in our culture.
On his career to date
Purpose, or meaning, has been a really important thread in all of the work that has really drawn me in. The work that I do now is as a coach, in regenerative leadership, and the work that I’ve done in non-profit. It’s not really isolated to work. It’s integrated into my whole life and in other relationships – personal relationships, family and friendships.
Coaching has been a big part of that, the sense of curiosity. That’s at the core. I feel this curiosity and awe and wonder that fits really well with coaching skills and the profession.
If he were to name a superpower, it would be:
Presence. I had a friend once who was encountering some really difficult situations and said, I just need to cultivate my inner Nic. I remember her saying that, and I’ve had a few other friends who have said that same thing. It’s like this sense of calm and presence. So I’m able to be that with other people in relationship, and that feels like a superpower.
Another lovely superpower is being able to see lots of different perspectives and angles. This has been in me for a long time. Being able to look at things in different ways, to be in a really difficult situation and to see what’s good about it, or what could it lead to. That “who knows what is good or what is bad” parable. I genuinely mostly feel like that. I have all of the regular human moments, but usually I shift really quickly into this.
On his biggest inspirations or philosophies
I really like to collect things, to gather information, insight, wisdom, and input. There’s so many.
Right now, the things that are the biggest?
ORSC coaching, the beautiful skills and tools, the knowledge. What I’m liking about ORSC is accessing deeper wisdom, deeper intelligence – not just being on the surface.
That’s also related to nature or natural systems. Living systems, that’s another big source of inspiration right now. I love mixing those things up because in reality, they’re not disconnected. Living systems and the coaching approach come together so beautifully.
On his work in regenerative leadership
This idea of creating space for people to come together and think differently, that’s the Regenerative Leadership Academy. I’m excited for continued iterations of that. It’s a unique space for people to come together, to think differently and explore ways of moving forward. Things could be different. How we organize, how we live within our society, ways of being exist that are sometimes marginalized. The ability to come together in a space where that is safe and open, to completely unlock new ways of thinking. It’s kind of a cool project.
On who can benefit from ORSC
I don’t think you need to be a coach to to do ORSC. It’s great for leaders and organizations. Just thinking more broadly, it’s great because it cultivates our awareness of what’s happening within our organizational and relationship systems. That’s really good for anyone at any level of of any organization. It cultivates awareness of relationship systems, which I think is the skill for the next stage of our human civilization.
Nic’s Resource List
Nic’s Article | An invitation to design with nature
Giles Hutchins & Laura Storm | Regenerative Leadership: The DNA of life-affirming 21st century organizations
Carol Sanford | The Regenerative Life
Adrienne Maree Brown | Emergent Strategy
Robin Wall Kimmerer | Braiding Sweetgrass
Donella Meadows | Thinking in Systems
Laura Storm’s Ted Talk | The World Needs Regenerative Leadership
Want to learn more about what RSI and ORSC can do for you?
Join Kerry Woodcock in a free Zoom session to discover what Relationship Systems Intelligence training accomplishes and how the program works.