What is Rainforest Leadership?

Leadership is essential for any organization to realize its innovative potential. Leaders and champions of innovation, who ideally are spread throughout an organization (or innovation ecosystem), have a clear understanding of the motivations, experiences, and perspectives of their organization’s potential. They are decision-makers and influencers. They have some combination of the following personal attributes: they can affect governance and the workforce; they have credibility and may be considered thought leaders; and, they have a compelling vision and are strong communicators. Strong innovation leaders and champions have experience with innovation in its various forms; they trust others and are trust worthy; they embrace diversity of thinking styles; and their motivations will often transcend the strictly rational.

To start the conversation about improving your innovation leadership, or to learn about getting going with a Rainforest Immersion 1-day program in your area send us an email or call.

LEADERSHIP SERVICES: Measure + Facilitate + Educate+ Coach

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Measure: Rainforest Leadership programs begin with a 360-feedback process that helps leaders understand their current leadership effectiveness across the six domains that make up innovation cultures. The Rainforest Leadership 360 includes 30-minute phone interviews with the participating leader, their manager, peers, and stakeholders/business partners (usually 5-6 interviews for each participating leader). This provides each participant with a very solid base-line of feedback upon which to build Rainforest Leadership skills and consciousness.

Facilitate: Facilitation of the Rainforest Leadership comes in two modalities: online and in-person. During the 12-month version of the program, participants engage in three in-person events: a 2-day Kick-off session; a 1-day Rainforest Leadership Summit mid-way; and a 1-day working commencement event. Accelerated collaboration and graphic facilitation methods make these sessions highly interactive, enjoyable, and creative. Wherever possible, in-person sessions are aligned with organizational strategic planning and culture change activities to fully integrate learning and doing mission critical work. Our Rainforest Immersion 1-day event gets the leadership conversation going.

Educate: The methods used during Rainforest Leadership in-person and online Learning Labs applies proven adult education and accelerated learning techniques. Each short monthly session (between the milestone events noted above) is facilitated by an expert RFS trainer. New content is delivered in short manageable chunks that set up each month’s learning objectives. Along with new content, each Learning Lab session prepares participants to do integration tasks for the coming month: reflective journaling, peer forum conversations, and leadership projects aimed at practice and self-development. Again, while there is a great deal of knowledge and skill transfer accomplished in the Rainforest Leadership program, the specific leadership work done by participants along the way improves organization results almost from the very first session.

Coach: The personal transformation that all leaders go through by accident or by design, nearly always includes coaching and mentorship. Rainforest Leadership participants receive 1:1 coaching at the individual level for a whole year: First, to make sense of the 360-feedback assessment at the beginning of the program; then, on a monthly basis to get the most from each month’s new leadership content and exercises. At the end of the program, participants conduct another 360-feedback process to identify progress and the next level of leadership prowess. The completion coaching session celebrates personal development progress and solidifies each participant’s ongoing self-directed development plans.

Rainforest Leadership produces four conditions found in highly innovative cultures:


Leadership: Innovation cultures require leaders who have a highly developed, empathetic approach to collaboration. Where this approach is missing, leaders, and by example, all associates, have difficulty working across functional and organizational lines. The Rainforest Leadership program develops leaders' empathy bench strength. Our program guides leaders to cultivate a long-term practice of learning from reflective processes, a cornerstone of learning organizations that continuously improve and adapt. This enables leaders to learn and model how to translate personal development into action and the achievement of organizational objectives and targets. As a result, Rainforest Leadership program grows your organization’s awareness of and ability to manage and lead in your dynamic complex environment.

Role Models: Leadership development is often only aimed at those who are currently seen as leaders, investing in their continued development and progress. Highly innovative cultures need leadership behavior energizing experiments and evolution at all levels. To this end, it is important to identify rising stars and to provide them with attractive growth challenges. Putting your high-potential individuals into Rainforest Leadership programming strengthens them as people and positions them as visible role models. Our Rainforest Scorecard assessment of innovation cultures, taken by 1000’s of individuals, shows a strong correlation between role model scores and resources scores. You can have more resources for innovation by growing leaders who encourage innovative role models in the organization. 

Culture: Where trust is lacking and trusting relationships are few and far between, the effectiveness and tempo in an organization suffers. Where trust is high and trusting relationships are common and strong, there is an increased organizational understanding of and tolerance for risk. Through Rainforest Leadership programming, your organization will generate trust and degrees of freedom in thought and action, so more experiments can be run and novel solutions can be found faster.

Resources: Resources take on many forms and are often the first thing that organizations complain about as a hindrance to innovation and problem solving. What statistical analysis of Rainforest Scorecard assessments reveals is that more often than not, it is a dominant form of status quo leadership that is the ironic culprit. When out of balance with other innovation culture attributes, particularly role models, then resources for innovation become constrained. Rainforest Leadership returns balance to these attributes and frees up or attracts resources to broaden and accelerate innovation and organizational results.

How to Cultivate Rainforest Leaders:

Individual leadership development, especially in the context of innovation, is cultivated as a process over time. Rainforest Leadership development involves:

1)              Self-examination and assessment

2)              Dialogue and coaching

3)              Creation of a personal development point of view and plan

4)              Long-term practice and activity

5)              Real-world implementation and practice

6)              Ongoing assessment and self-examination.

These components should be thought of as fluid, rather than overly linear, and as a continuous improvement process of looping from evaluation to reflection to action and back to evaluation.

The various elements of Rainforest Leadership pedagogy (i.e., interactive learning modules, simulations, and so on) are just as important as the content in our program. Rainforest Leadership content is specifically related to leading innovation, but is tailored to each organization’s needs and the individual learning and development of participants.

It is important to note that the 12-month version of the Rainforest Leadership program is designed to run concurrently with Rainforest Strategy creation and alignment projects. Rainforest Leadership development activities are all focused on the real-world experiences and challenges of program participants.

Whether your organization is focused on achieving incremental improvements or radical breakthroughs, the Rainforest Leadership program will improve your culture of innovation, your leaders, and your organizational results.

Send an email or call us to start the conversation about improving your organization or region’s leadership of innovation and collaboration.