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Pursuing Sustainability

Source: Pam Matson

Excerpt from Chapter 6 of Pursuing Sustainability on the Mindsets of Sustainability Leaders: What are the characteristics of leaders who can catalyze progress toward sustainability goals?   In our roles as scientists and educators, we have had the opportunity to ask this question of many different kinds of leaders – corporate, educational, non-governmental, and governmental.  In doing so, we have received a remarkably consistent set of opinions, and a remarkably clear description of the mindsets that appear to be characteristic of leaders in this realm whether they operate on a local or global stage. First, sustainability leaders are systems thinkers, and they seek to understand the complex social-environmental systems in which they work, and at larger scales as well.  To do so, they must have open minds.  As they try to incorporate an understanding of social-environmental systems into decision-making processes, they bring their own multi-disciplinary perspectives to bear.  Importantly, however, they recognize all that they don’t know, and they depend on and continue to grow from other’s expertise, and respect other different ways of knowing and learning. They have the ability to build and re-build multi-disciplinary teams and collaborative groups to accomplish a community’s goals.  They are inclusive and build respectful, collective and collaborative processes.


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