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07/07/2024 Origin by Ocean

Activist Leadership: Steering Regenerative Business at Origin by Ocean

At Origin by Ocean, we are redefining leadership through the lens of empathy, activism, and regeneration.
Activist Leadership: Steering Regenerative Business at Origin by Ocean

Mari Granström, our Chief Executive Activist, recently shared her vision for "activist leadership"—a transformative approach that leverages the driving forces within people to create systemic change.

The Core of Activist Leadership

Granström describes activist leadership as a paradigm shift from traditional leadership models, focusing on realising the highest potential of individuals. Unlike conventional leadership approaches that often emphasise performance reviews, identifying weaknesses, and setting future goals, activist leadership seeks to understand, motivate and nurture the inherent capabilities of each person.

All of this said, the main driving force behind this approach is the urgent need to find ways to avoid environmental calamities that risk making the planet uninhabitable. By focusing on unlocking individual potential, Granström believes that businesses can more effectively address and mitigate these global challenges.

Granström explains, “We should be looking at the highest potential of the person. How do they perceive their highest potential? Is it when they are in a specific role where they can, for instance, express their creativity through new formulations or trends? Or is it about knowing that you can impact the world? It’s about empowering people to act from their own energy and potential. That is the ultimate motivator.”

Bridging Internal and External Leadership

Granström also highlights the multi-layered nature of leadership, emphasising the importance of both internal and external leadership. Internal leadership refers to how leaders inspire and guide their teams within the organisation, while external leadership pertains to the example they set for the outside world. She asserts that for a company like Origin by Ocean, which is rooted in regenerative business practices, it is crucial that the internal leadership aligns with the external image of the company.

“We cannot lead the company from the inside like an old management system and then present a regenerative business model to the outside world. Leadership must be consistent both internally and externally,” Granström asserts.


The Importance of Empathy and Conflict

A particularly unconventional yet insightful topic discussed is the role of empathy and conflict in leadership. Granström challenges the traditional notion that “things argue, not people,” stating bluntly, “That’s bullshit. People argue. It’s about how you argue.” She believes that conflicts, when approached empathetically and constructively, can drive progress and innovation.

Granström’s emphasis on empathy extends to her leadership style. She underscores the importance of creating an environment where people feel empowered to voice difficult issues and engage in constructive debates. “I want to encourage people to talk about difficult things. I want to have debates. I want them to be able to be reasonable in conflicts. It’s about handling conflicts respectfully,” she elaborates.

Activism in Corporate Culture

Origin by Ocean's use of the term “activist” to describe our employees is another unconventional approach that sets us apart. Granström explains that this term encapsulates the active, engaged, and empowered mindset that she seeks to instil within the company’s culture. This activist mindset is not merely about protesting or being disruptive; it’s about being deeply committed to driving positive change and challenging the status quo.

“The activism model is based on the idea that people are empowered to act from their own energy. They are not afraid to say difficult things. I encourage people to speak about difficult issues, to engage in debates, to be able to be in conflicts constructively,” says Granström.

ObO_human_brillianceChallenges and Realities of Activist Leadership

Granström does not shy away from acknowledging the challenges of implementing a leadership model used in non-profit activist organisations. She notes that while the idea of flat hierarchies and empowerment is appealing, it often clashes with the inherent hierarchical nature of organizations. She candidly admits, “We tried having no hierarchy, but people need some structure. They need to know who their supervisor is and how they can escalate issues.”

This realistic approach highlights the balance needed between idealism and practicality. Granström’s leadership philosophy is not about rejecting traditional structures outright but about evolving them to better serve the collective good and foster genuine empowerment.

A Call for Action

The emphasis on regenerative leadership, the integration of internal and external leadership, the constructive handling of conflicts, and the activist mindset collectively offer a blueprint for a more sustainable and empowering approach to business. In a world increasingly focused on sustainability and social responsibility, Granström’s leadership philosophy stands as a testament to the power of unconventional thinking and the potential for businesses to be agents of positive change. 

Corporations have a duty to endure and to grow. They will not if they are stuck in the models of yesterday.  Being a leader means taking action.



Lather, rinse, repeat, rethink
Origin by Ocean and the Keep the Archipelago Tidy Association Collect Harmful Blue-Green Algae from the Baltic Sea and Turn It into Valuable Raw Material