Leadership, Roots and Shoots

Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.  -Dr. Jane Goodall

Last evening I attended a dinner at the House of Lords in the Palace of Westminster (also known as the Parliament Building) honouring Dr. Jane Goodall.  In case you don’t recall the name, Jane Goodall was the first person to study chimpanzees as both a species and as a society.  Early in the 1960s she made groundbreaking observations that chimps used tools (they stripped the leave off twigs to poke into ant hills and fish out ants to eat) and that they have strong social bonds in a society showing great compassion and even altruism.  Her 50 years of research and writings have helped mankind become more connected to the environment and the animal species we share it with.

I first met Jane Goodall in 1970 when I was a graduate student in biology at Harvard University and recently connected with her through a good friend, Robert Eden, who is the Executive Director of the Jane Goodall Institute.  She is both a pioneering scientist and a tireless campaigner for environmental awareness and saving the planet from our own destructive actions.  She has written several moving books about her work and was recently named by the United Nations as an official Messenger of Peace.

But what Dr. Goodall is most proud of is her global youth education program called Roots and Shoots.  In her own words:

“Roots creep underground everywhere and make a firm foundation.  Shoots seem very weak, but to reach the light, they can break open brick walls.  Imagine that the brick walls are all the problems we have inflicted on our planet.  Hundreds of thousands of roots & shoots, hundreds of thousands of young people around the world, can break through these walls.  We CAN change the world.”

And I do mean global.  What began as an environmental awareness education program for a few local schools in Tanzania in 1991, now has Roots and Shoots programs in 123 countries. In the UK alone there are over 1,000 school groups participating, from entry level to college students.  And the young people are motivated to conduct environmental action and education programs that they design themselves.

Earlier this year I attended a UK Roots and Shoots Awards Ceremony at the London Zoo. I have never seen such passionate and motivated young people, and so knowledgeable about the environment.  One of the prize winning school groups persuaded the administration of their school to only purchase Fair Trade products (the entire school now uses only Fair Trade products) and at the same time began a school-wide recycling project as well as an organic garden that provides a large percentage of the vegetables used in the school cafeteria.  And it was all developed and managed by the kids themselves.  To me this is the beginning of real leadership training – seeing a problem and enrolling others to help solve it.

You really should look into the Roots and Shoots program and if your school isn’t yet involved, then help start a Roots and Shoots program.  Download some of the videos of Jane Goodall and watch them with your children.  Get active, get involved.  We can’t save the planet for ourselves, but we can for our children and their children.

Also, the Jane Goodall Foundation needs your financial support as well as good business people to get involved and help out.  When your children ask what you are doing to help save the planet, what is your response?  After all it’s our generation that created the problem of escalating environmental destruction.  We have the obligation of leadership to begin to put things right!

If you want to help in a big way, contact my friend, Robert Eden, Executive Director at robert.eden@janegoodall.org.uk  The leadership legacy of Jane Goodall needs to grow and spread, now more than ever.

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress

E | john@johnrchildress.com      T | +44 207 584 3774      M | +44 7833 493 999



About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
This entry was posted in leadership. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Leadership, Roots and Shoots

  1. Pingback: Do what you . . . | John R Childress . . . rethinking

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s