The Tree: Hubert Mposo Makwanda
26 October 2021
L’arbre de Hubert Mposo Makwanda
October 26, 2021



A holistic approach to leadership,
inspired by nature

Hubert Mposo Makwanda has more than 25 years of experience in organizational development and executive education. He describes himself as someone who brings people together and who helps organizations and leaders find efficient solutions to the issues and challenges they are facing by harnessing creativity and collective intelligence.

The president and founder of Concilium Capital Humain is one of the instructors for Module 2 of the Certification in Retail Operations, which delves into leadership and change management.

Mr. Makwanda thinks of leadership as a tree, and this vision is what shapes his approach. The analogy may seem simple, but it encapsulates an entire ecosystem, which changes and interacts with its environment.

Like trees and other plants, leaders are in a constant state of growth.

But they need to embrace their inner nature if they are to reach their full potential.

Leadership, seen holistically

“A tree needs to be rooted in something, and so does leadership,” he says. “It has to stretch upward, get stronger and blossom. It relies on its environment for support, and it is influenced by the soil it is planted in and the surroundings it has to adapt to.”

Taking this comparison one step further, today’s leaders also need a bit of pruning. In other words, anything that holds them back from flourishing needs to be trimmed. A leader must be ready for change, prepared to adopt new patterns and habits, and respectful of what’s growing around them: ideas, similar to branches, can sometimes encroach on other plants and prevent them from thriving.

A steadfast presence in stormy weather

Building further still on this analogy, a fire can come along and wipe out a forest. But this same fire is what is needed to help the forest regenerate, as long as the roots run deep enough. And this is what a strong network does for a leader.

“In times of crisis, we focus on what’s essential, our core,” says Mr. Makwanda. “We have to get back to our roots and draw on their strength to rebuild and regrow. I see a crisis as an opportunity to evolve. When one thing dies, another is born.”

From his perspective, a crisis sheds light on resources we might not even know we had. It’s a wake-up call of sorts. For a business, it can be a chance to re-examine practices that have become entrenched over time. For a couple, a crisis may give both partners a fresh perspective on who the other person really is. A crisis-free life would be a life without growth and progress — in other words, unliveable.

“In circumstances like these, if you want to remain consistent and stand tall in the face of adversity, you have to stay humble and eager to learn,” he explains.

Embracing diversity: The key to evolving

Many of our long-held beliefs and convictions were uprooted in 2020. In this age of instability and complexity, strong leadership is more important than ever in weathering the storm.

If there is one thing Mr. Makwanda has learned over the years in his role as a leader, it’s the importance of being open and responsive to others. “You have to see situations from another point of view, listen to people differently, recontemplate the meaning of things that you think you may know but that may have shifted as circumstances have changed.”

The importance of leadership shines through in times of turbulence, but also when we encounter difference. That’s when it becomes clear who we really are, as a leader and as a person.

“As human beings, we naturally gravitate toward people who are the same as us. But true creativity and innovation need a backdrop of difference and diversity against which to grow. This is the fertile ground it takes for ideas to germinate. Otherwise, they just shrivel up and blow away.”

Learn more about the Certification in Retail Operations.