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Eco-leadership – A new approach to Leadership for a Sustainable Environment

Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology of South Africa
Date: 23 April 2018



What is Eco-Leadership?

Eco-leadership is a term coined by Dr Simon Western, the founder of the A-NC (Analytic-Coaching Network). Last year I had the opportunity to attend a 3-day coaching course offered by Simon here in South Africa. This course evoked a desire in me to encourage this much-needed leadership discourse here in our country. When Simon refers to Eco-leadership, he is also saying leadership can collectively create ‘a good society, in good faith’.

What does this mean?

In his book, Simon confirms that ‘Eco-leadership’ is about reflecting on the growing relevance of environmental and networking representation in the leadership literature. “Eco-leadership is becoming the most important leadership discourse for our times” however it requires a lot more collective commitment from leadership so that this discourse has more societal impact.

With this refreshing way of looking at an organisation as an ececosystem consisting of a networked environment, collective impact is possible.  Individuals, Groups, Organisational and Socio-Economic systems have a responsibility to co-create a sustainable environment where everyone can enjoy a new world of collective conscientiousness towards societal wellbeing.

Are you a Radicalist or a Reformer?

What does it take?

The author believes Eco-leadership is about ethics and rethinking growth. Courage is required to shape the future and taking accountability for sustainability. Organisations and leadership should question their purpose at both an individual and collective level. When a leader or leadership is disconnected from the eco-system they lose themselves and become more and dislocated from what it means to be human.

There are organisations who are doing the right thing, those who are still doing the wrong thing and those who are still not there. Chances are that organisational leadership either perceives those who do the right thing as idealistic and the time has not yet arrived to be more conscious around environmental sustainability. Perhaps some are also banking on others to change first before they will change.

How can I make the shift?

Are you a Radicalist or a Reformer? Reformers have a hope that a happy medium is found for the capitalist mind and advocating responsibility. Radicalists are activists against the perpetual elitist system and are driven by a higher purpose for social change and equality.

As much as globalisation improves connectivity in societies it also brings further divide. ‘External landscapes shape our internal landscapes’ and influences how we think, how we feel and how we perceive the world. We are socially constructed by the system in which we spend our time. This system either strengthens or limits our individual and collective potential. Eco-leadership has the willingness to learn from others who have managed to create sustainable systems.  Eco-leadership thinks differently about how they leverage collective intelligence and take accountability for shaping the future which will bring equilibrium into the eco-system.


What support is there?

Rethinking leadership into the future means we deconstruct the power achieved from self-interest, become reconnected with others and embrace our interdependence. The author concludes: “crises and constraints also stimulate innovation and change, and this is where hope lies”.  I wish to restore this hope by inviting a new paradigm of leadership, free from organisational structures and one that enables liberation.

For more information of eco-leadership, click on:




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