Embracing complexity is a challenging way to understand sustainable leadership — not because it’s wrong, but because it’s hard, and true, and necessary. Diversity is difficult because our human relationships long for reassuring connections. I agree that meaningful collaboration, commonalities are only as good as the diverse perspectives that build solutions for healthy transformation! The lessons of the high-functioning, positive shapeshifter are valuable here, as are creative ways to transform conventional thinking and shift limiting hierarchies of leader/follower roles.
Collaboration for sustainability requires well functioning groups of people who lead collectively – be they called management teams, project teams, core groups, committees, partnership teams, task forces, working groups or a leaders network. They exist within one or across several organisations. They are composed as cross-sector groups – with representatives from civil society, public sector and private sector. People in such groups have differences in power, experience, education and culture. They have language barriers, as not everybody is able to communicate in his or her native language. This is all part of our sustainability endeavour. Luckily we are diverse and this is the best prerequisite to succeed in collaborative sustainability initiatives. For all these different groups of people, can we track back common features that make them successful, that enable them to “change the world” (even if it is only a portion of the world)?
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