Six Ways to Rewild Your Team

By Gill Coombs

Here at Embercombe, we talk a lot about rewilding our beautiful valley: the abundance we’re encouraging, the disruption that leads to greater diversity, tricky decisions, dynamic tensions between competing species, the changes we’re already seeing in the richness of the land.

Meanwhile, the team here at Embercombe has been undergoing its own parallel rewilding experiment. During 2021 permanent staff engaged in a programme that explored and developed natural expression, self-regulation, and reciprocity, with the aim of maintaining a healthy living whole: a human ecosystem. Throughout the year we’ve experienced rich learning in embodying these principles, bringing ourselves – and so the team – into more harmonious balance. Like the land, the team – including our whole-hearted volunteers – has flourished. And as with the land, amongst the people there is still disruption. There are still tricky decisions, and dynamic tensions, each bringing rich learning opportunities. In the process we discover more about each other, and more about ourselves, as people and land at Embercombe co-evolve each day.

Here are six principles for rewilding your team:

Distributed decision-making
Decisions made openly, by those closest to the issue, seeking views of expertise within the team and/or those who will be affected. Each part of the team organism involved in far-reaching decisions. A sense of decisions ‘made by us’ rather than ‘done to me’.

Reciprocal, earned respect
People are respected for their unique practical and personal contributions to the ecosystem, rather than job titles and/or perceived power. Co-operation is gained through dialogue, mutual respect and shared purpose.

Emergent leadership
Each team member has regular scheduled tasks, but is empowered to lead on a task or project they feel inspired by. Support for the project arises within the team – or doesn’t. Natural hierarchies emerge and dissipate in response to context.

Team members seek to resolve issues through constructive dialogue between equals as parts of an organic whole. Working through ego conflicts of opinion or interest as far as possible, seeking support from another if stuck.

Open and honest conversations about current or anticipated problems, including the right people at the right times. Sharing information on own area to all other areas, like mycelium. Clean communication in the spirit of averting gossip.

Team members are comfortable offering anybody else in the team constructive ideas when they notice a potential improvement. Also, frequently affirming what we appreciate in others: appreciation as energy-giving sunlight.

All this is supported by a sense of serving the collective and its purpose in the world, rather than attachment to ego and outcomes. Moving towards a rewilded team needs everyone’s openness to the process, and a belief in the fundamental goodness of people: the roles we can all play in bringing about a flourishing world for all species.

Gill Coombs offers emotional, practical and soulful guidance for people wanting to engage their passions & skills for a flourishing world. This takes the form of private coaching/counselling/soulwork 1:1 sessions as well as real culture change for organisations and other groups seeking to be more radical, holistic, and harmonious. Gill is trained in both therapeutic counselling and coaching, and has an MSc in Holistic Science from Schumacher College. She has a 15 year Learning and Development background in private, public and charitable sectors, and 12 years in private practice. She is also an activist, a writer, and itinerant house-sitter.