Leadership for Sustainability

On Monday 6 June 2011 members of the sustainabilty community gathered at the German Gymnasium in London to celebrate the publication of Leadership for Sustainability: An Action Research Approach. At the heart of the book are the stories of 29 people who are seeking to make the world more environmentally sustainable and socially just, recounting their approaches and reviewing their impacts.

Left to right: John Stuart (Greenleaf Publishing), Gill Coleman, Peter Reason and Judi Marshall.

The evening included a visit to the King’s Cross Skip Garden in which young people from Global Generation grow bio-diverse food, which they then sell locally. Global Generation is a London-based charity dedicated to supporting young people to take a lead in generating positive environmental and social change in urban communities. The history of the initiative is charted by Jane Riddiford in Leadership for Sustainability.

Marshall shares her thoughts on the book.

The evening provided an opportunity for some of Bath University’s MSc Responsibility and Business Practice alumni to talk to each other and invited guests about their work. There were also short comments from:

Judi Marshall, one of the book’s editors – the others being Gill Coleman and Peter ReasonJane Riddiford, Co-founder and Executive Director of Global Generation and Kené Umeasiegbu, who led the development of the Cadbury Cocoa Partnership. Kené used the occasion to reflect on choices involved in combining protesting and engaging to contribute to change.

The book focuses on what it means to take up leadership for sustainability, from a variety of organisational and social positions, and considers the consequences of different strategies and practices for influencing change:

Leadership for Sustainability is dedicated to the memory of Anita Roddick – and she would have loved the overarching theme that we must now move faster with the implementation of today’s organisational change agenda and, at the same time, work out how to disrupt our economic and business models to reboot capitalism for the 21st century.

John Elkington, Executive Chairman, Volans; co-founder, Environmental Data Services (ENDS) and SustainAbility.

One of the most dispiriting aspects of the environmental challenges that beset us is the lack of agency that many people experience: we do not know what to do or how to do it. Whatever form it takes, organisational sustainability programmes need committed, intelligent, reflective leadership at all levels to make them work. The case studies in this book show how people in very different contexts have seized the opportunities open to them and acted with courage and initiative to make a difference.

There’s no doubt that those who have the courage to take part in this programme, to engage in active research in this messy terrain, learning the skills of the “tempered radical”, will emerge through their foot-soldiering to become the leaders of tomorrow. Start following their stories now.

Tessa Tennant, Innovator in Sustainable Finance.

Their stories are a very human testimony that change is not just needed but is also possible.

Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable Business, Marks & Spencer.

Leadership for Sustainability shows what an action research based practice of leadership for sustainability looks like and provides a sense of the personal and professional challenges this involves:

This is a must-read for those who hope, and want to translate hope into action.

Dexter Dunphy, Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Business, University of Technology Sydney.

Chloe Parker
Greenleaf Publishing


AVAILABLE NOW: Leadership for Sustainability
offers ideas, frameworks and practices for people taking leadership and working to influence change. Limited offer: Order direct from Greenleaf and get 30% discount. Use voucher code LFS611 at checkout. Offer ends 30 June 2011.


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