Leadership and Sustainability
The Facilitative Leader applies simple yet sophisticated collaborative strategies to solve dynamic, complex, global problems affecting many stakeholders. Sustainability is one of these problems.
With a foundation of content knowledge about what sustainability is, the three necessary capabilities for the Facilitative Leader in this context are:
Systems Thinking (Seeing)
This means helping individual leaders and collective leadership see the whole, understand that nothing stands in isolation, and develop a deeply felt sense of the interconnectedness of social, economic, cultural, and environmental factors in order to make truly informed decisions. We take both our inspiration and instruction in this realm from the likes of the Sustainability Institute, the Center for Whole Communities, and The Elumenati.
What we do is informed by who and how we are in the world. Awareness of personal beliefs, mental models, and inherent tendencies is a powerful lever for making the sustainability shift, for aligning thought behind action. Self-awareness might also be cast as mindfulness, or the ability to be present with what is. Here we build upon our existing work around the inner side of leadership with the contributions of the Pachamama Alliance and John Milton.
Collaborative Capability (Doing)
With the whole in mind and awareness of our inner state, leadership will have a greater understanding of the need to work collectively toward more sustainable lifestyles and ways of doing business. Collaborative skill is key, including knowing how to frame sustainability efforts, create the right conditions for innovation, build agreement, structure decision-making, and design transformational experiences for diverse stakeholders. This is the heart and soul of the Interaction Method, and it is supplemented by the work of Keith Sawyer, CRED, and the many pioneers of large group methods and network-building.
The "Transformational Experience" piece is a way to accelerate development in these areas by exposing the leader to a paradigm-shifting experiential learning situation or circumstance.
Another key element and overlay for all of these is leadership’s ability to understand and navigate power dynamics as they play out in systems, in ourselves, and in our chosen methods for working together.
At its core, sustainability is about taking responsibility. It means being strategically responsive to the conditions that affect a business — such as the toll that operating takes on the world, global climate change, the emerging trends in the marketplace, and unmet needs of stakeholders — rather than ignoring them.
Learn more about our other areas of expertise: