Developing leaders for sustainable development: enabling behaviour change
This source preferred by Chris Shiel
Authors: Pica, P., Shiel, C. and Williams, A.
This presentation provides an account of a pioneering small-scale HEFCE Leadership Governance and Management funded project which has been led by Bournemouth University (BU), in partnership with the University of Sussex (UoS). Both institutions have made substantial progress in engaging with sustainable development, but in common with other institutions this has been largely due to the work of a small group of champions. The aim of the project is to achieve a step change in engagement in sustainable development in both institutions, by offering Board/Council Members and senior management teams the opportunity to reflect on their roles as leaders, considering how they role model leadership behaviour for sustainable development and develop strategies which might broaden engagement.
This unique programme of workshops focused on leadership behaviours for sustainable development aims to secure champions for sustainable development and carbon reduction at every level, with sustainability leadership exemplified from Chair of the Board/Council down, to reinforce a holistic approach, and unite stakeholders in collective action.
This small scale project will also be of wider significance to the sector in a number of ways. A primary aim is to address a perceived gap in terms of engagement with sustainable development of Boards/Councils and the wider senior team, enabling them to lead by example. The project outcomes include a workshop format and materials which have been trialed at Bournemouth University and the University of Sussex and will be cascaded to two further universities to maximise impact. By the end of the project, the approach and workshop materials will be refined and made available for cascading to other institutions. A project report will be disseminated across the sector via various networks.
Working with an external facilitator the project has, to date, delivered two workshops at BU, one at UoS and one at a ‘cascade partner’ institution.
During the presentation, the action learning approach adopted in the project will be outlined and reflection will be provided on progress so far and learning to date. This will include observations around both the challenges encountered, such as the role of gatekeepers in blocking access to Board members or senior staff, and the achievements to date, such as increased Board/Council support and commitment for strategies relating to sustainable development. There will also be some reflection on the impact of the different cultural contexts within which we are delivering the project in these distinct institutions.
The presentation will go on to outline the benefits that are expected to result from the project; including increased leadership capability and capacity for addressing sustainable development, with decision-making at the most senior level becoming enhanced by addressing sustainable development issues; sustainable development, carbon and environmental management becoming topics for regular discussion at the top table; increased likelihood of success of carbon reduction strategies; and an increased number of champions for sustainable development across a broader range of areas from the top down. It will also consider how we will measure whether the project has been a success.