Inner Development Goals: global change requires personal transformation

16. August 2022 - By Stuart Schofield, Client Director, Mannaz Share

A few weeks ago, many places in Europe experienced some of their hottest days on record. It was an unnerving experience in London, cycling home over Waterloo Bridge with a dry and ferociously hot breeze at my face, making my eyes water.

A few moments later I was sitting in a hot train carriage and my mind began to turn towards a conversation I’d had a few days before with someone I had been coaching. This manager had been finding it difficult to change their behaviour. They were frustrated that they just couldn’t seem to nudge themselves off the all-too-familiar pathways they’d been relying on. They were finding themselves in a bind that many of us have experienced. Time and again they were replaying the same routines, even though they knew these routines were no longer working.

During the session we spent time talking about Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey’s work on Immunity to Change* and, gradually, the manager began to identify some of their hidden ‘counter-commitments’. That is, they had started to understand better some of the unconscious psychological forces that were stubbornly getting in the way of progress.

It reconfirmed something I have known for a long time – Change is hard… really hard!


“The leaders of tomorrow must be able to engender change in themselves and in their teams: Our future may depend on it.”

Personal change is hard… but the future may depend on it

So why, as I sat in this airless train carriage, was my mind going to this particular conversation?

The truth is, it is the successful adaptations in our own behaviours that will be what matters most in our fight against climate change. While societies need to shift to meet this challenge, it’s ultimately change on the personal level that will be critical if we’re going to tackle global warming. It will be personal change that will also help us redress some of the other imbalances in our world too. Be it environmental protection, the eradication of poverty, disease and hunger, or access to good education, it’s the triumphs in our personal battles against old routines that will make the real difference.

If we are to meet the myriad demands of the future, we need to eschew the established ways of thinking and embrace some new and novel strategies. Some have argued for a top-to-bottom review of modern capitalism**, while others have doubled down on the existing orthodoxy (with some tweaks along the way)***. Regardless, some re-thinking will be needed, about how our institutions are run and how leaders practice leadership.

But new strategies are stubbornly hard to come by…. and even harder to act upon.

What is certain is that unless there is a commitment to thinking differently within institutions, the current problems of global sustainability will not fix themselves. The leaders of tomorrow must be able to engender change in themselves and in their teams: Our future may depend on it.


“Change is hard. Organisations and leaders will need all the support they can get.”

A framework for change – the Inner Development Goals (IDG)

Organisations across the globe will need to prioritise sustainability if we are to meet some of the pressing issues of our time. Stewardship of these organisations will require a multitude of different skills, attitudes and perspectives. For example, successful leadership will call into question:

  • Our way of Being – can we stop ourselves from being reactive and try new approaches?
  • Our way of Thinking – are we really able to think critically and take different perspectives?
  • Our way of Relating – are we able to show humility, connecting to others and not putting ourselves first?
  • Our way of Collaborating – can we truly be open to those who have different values and skills?
  • Our way of Acting – do we have the courage, optimism and agency to break old patterns?

Some leaders will need to shift their approach profoundly to create this change. Other leaders may already be making strides down this path, but ultimately all will need some guidance and a sense of purpose in their endeavour. Once again, change is hard. Organisations and leaders will need all the support they can get.

This is where Inner Development Goals come into focus.


“The SDGs are designed to be the blueprint for achieving a better and more sustainable future for us all.”

Rising to the challenge

The 5 qualities listed above constitute the 5 categories at the center of the Inner Development Goals (IDG) initiative. These are:
1) Being
2) Thinking
3) Relating
4) Collaborating
5) Acting

These 5 qualities are broken down further into a list of 23 skills and abilities, such as ‘learning mindset’, ‘empathy and compassion’, ‘co-creation skills’ and ‘optimism’.

These goals describe the capabilities, qualities, and skills we need in order to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) created by the UN Member States in 2015. The SDGs are designed to be the blueprint for achieving a better and more sustainable future for us all. IDGs are a logical extension of this. They’ve come into being via a community of scientists and practitioners who have attempted to define a core set of capabilities that will help to achieve these global sustainability targets.

On a practical level, IDGs are intended to provide an essential framework of transformative skills for sustainable development. A ‘field kit’ is under development that will guide us on how to build these necessary skills. This will be curated from multiple existing frameworks, ideas and approaches and, being an open-source tool, will be free for all to use.

It’s important to note that all of the IDGs are able to be developed and within our grasp. Sometimes we just need some practical help to get started. The field kit will be an invaluable tool.

So, there is hope! The IDG framework came about because of the belief that we have the inner capacity to deal with our increasingly complex environment and challenges. It’s not too late to bring about the global changes we need if we are to live in a sustainable world.

It all starts with the individual deciding to take the first step in battling old habits and making the changes that are needed. Teams and organisations will follow suit.


I am deeply proud that Mannaz has opted to get involved in this project. We are an IDG Collaborating Partner, alongside 23 other supporting organisations, such as Ikea, Google, Ericsson and Spotify. We’re already investigating the way we do our work and providing internal workshops to help build some of these capabilities within our own ranks.

If you’d like to know more, please do reach out to us at Mannaz. We’re passionate about this topic and would be delighted to hear from you

Read more about Mannaz & IDG


Learn more

Or, if you would like to delve deeper into these IDG qualities yourself, visit: The Framework — Inner Development Goals


Share your thoughts

Your thoughts and insights will help develop IDGs. You can also take part by completing a simple survey; visit the IDG homepage and scroll down to ‘We need your input’.



*  The Real Reason People Won’t Change (

** Rebecca Henderson: Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire

*** Shareholder capitalism works best for society (

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About Stuart Schofield

Stuart Schofield is Client Director in Mannaz. He is a chartered occupational psychologist and has had over 25 years of experience developing leaders across the globe. During that time he has lived and worked in both London and Hong Kong – consulting on projects throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Stuart has a particular interest in applied psychology particularly with regards to individual growth and development, team effectiveness and organizational change. His recent focus has been on how teams can maintain trust and psychological safety whilst working remotely and across digital channels.

He is also passionate about the topic of inclusivity, specifically with regards to how it can be fostered when working across disparate locations and time zones.

Contact Stuart at or +44 7990 036110