Leadership for Sustainability: A Path with Heart?

“For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length – and there I travel looking, looking breathlessly.” Carlos Castaneda (The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, The Original Teachings in a Deluxe 30th Anniversary Edition Have you ever experienced an ambitious collaboration effort for sustainability that lost its intention? Have you come across deadening administrative cooperation procedures, bureaucratic structures and territorial fights? Have you even become tired of organizing stakeholder meetings that required huge efforts in back
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Patterns of Aliveness, Collaboration and a Sustainable Future

We all know a feeling of aliveness  – when we are happy, yet,  calm, when our heart resonates, when we feel most connected with life and when our humanity expands. At the same time, we are intrinsically linked to the order of life within us and around us – people, architecture, nature. We are constantly being created by this order – as much as we participate in creating this order. When we become aware of Aliveness and the role it plays in our endevours, we also become aware that co-creation works best in a collaborative space where there is “life”
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When passion lives a remote life

For me passion is at the base of my creativity and inspiration. When I feel passionate, I know why I am here and why I am doing what I am doing, and I can inspire others. I like to describe passion as an arousal of the heart. It is the desire to make a difference, the urge to change something for the better. I believe, our initial deeper intention is nourished by passion. Dreams hold passion, as do aspirations. Passion is the direct expression of our capacity to love life, the world and other people. Sometimes, over periods of time
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Creating a paradigm shift

Donella Meadows’ article: Leverage Points – Places to Intervene in a System is  an inspiring reminder, a timeless contribution that makes one think – and hopefully act. Reading it you might recognize how many aspects of sustainability initiatives are still stuck in regulatory approaches that – according to Donella – are lowdown on the list of effective leverage points. The second highest effective leverage point, she suggests, is the power to create a paradigm shift. This is what she says about how to create a paradigm shift: “You keep pointing at the anomalies and failures of the old paradigm, you keep speaking louder and
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Leading for sustainability

Leading for sustainability is expressing your creative potential as well as your ability to bring forth the world with others. Although there is no need for radical break-ups, revolutions or sudden changes in activities,  it is important to listen to when your heart tells you:  “Here is a chance to redefine your leadership contribution”. If you want to lead for sustainability, take small and consistent steps: Watch you heart – is it involved, where can you feel passion ? Act on the urge, no matter how small your steps are. Be persistent despite the odds and setbacks. Know that you
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Calculating the Costs of Non Collaboration

The costs of non-collaboration – or lack of collective leadership –  is often hidden, but the following examples make clear a severe imbalance between costs and return. (Although I have changed details in order to maintain confidentiality – these examples are all based on real projects and people.) First example: A two-day multi-stakeholder meeting on combating Malaria is convened after being initiated by an international organization active in the field. About 120 people from governments, civil society and research institutions were invited, of which only 80 showed up. Ten gave a speech or a presentation on issues that most people already knew
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Collective leadership for sustainability

Collective leadership for sustainability is the capacity of a group of actors to deliver their unique contribution to a joint purpose collaboratively. High priority is given to the common good, and a balance is struck between the needs of people, profit, and the planet. Leadership paradigms often refer only to individuals and the expansion of one person’s skills. Sustainability challenges, however,  require us to go beyond the individual and build the capacity of groups and systems to move important issues of common concern forward. In turn, this requires collective action, dialogue and collaboration. Leading for sustainability is therefore not an
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Leaders’ choices: collectively co-creating sustainability

Why is the change towards sustainability happening so slowly in many companies and initiatives? Could it be linked to leadership and the way leadership affects initiatives? Every change in an organization results from the choices made by dedicated people. Leaders are therefore co-creators of an interconnected reality. Leaders need to respond to a call for a sustainable world – as well as to questions about human dignity, inclusiveness, and a fairer distribution of wealth Leaders mirror their organization, while, at the same time, holding the potential to impact the way an orginisation view itself. Leadership based on lived values can change an entire
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What is your contribution to to the whole?

Are you inspired by your achievements or the meaning behind what you achieved?   We all want to have an impact, to make a difference, to create and contribute to the whole. Yet we are all human, and this means we unconsciously lay traps for ourselves. We are afraid of mistakes. We do not believe that our contribution counts. We doubt our expertise. We work tirelessly, heading toward burnout. Or we get hooked on success, become power hungry, thrive on competition and elevate ourselves above others. The heart is your guide to contribution. Passion creates energy because it focuses attention. It organizes life,
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Mutual support: connecting potential

We are here to support each other to grow, to develop, to thrive, and sometimes to survive. When we support each other we live our whole potential. It is not about being equal; it is about each person’s, each stakeholder’s potential to contribute to future possibilities, to the impact. Our contribution only becomes successful if other people’s contributions are also of  high quality. Mutual support is therefore serving ourselves, the other, and the whole. When we mutually support a sustainable future it greatly increases the vitality of a system of actors –  be it a team, an organization or collaborating partner institutions. Life
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