Sustainability through leadership

By Andy Kenworthy

Tackling today's challenges requires a new kind of leadership. It must be in tune with natural reality and the people around us. Andy Kenworthy reports on working with Kiwi businesses to support that change.

It’s fair to say that most people who know me do not think of me as a starry-eyed optimist. But, if anything could change that, it might be the final day of the Sustainable Business Network’s Leadership in Sustainable Business Course. It’s when the participants present their personal projects to their peers.

For an entire morning, participants from across all manner of sectors and businesses lay out their next moves for a better New Zealand. Some of them are baby steps, some are giant leaps. Inevitably, some won’t make it to reality, and others will change and morph on their way to implementation. But their potential is jaw-dropping.

Consider just this latest round. It included proposals that could return and recycle nearly all soft plastic courier packaging in New Zealand. There were steps for tackling building construction and demolition waste. There were new practices for the health sector. Initiatives on pioneering environmental education. And, as ever, the process sparked exciting new collaborations. This time it was wood waste remade as furniture. The barrage of great new ideas built into a vision of a thrilling future.

But what gets me most excited is that these aren’t just ideas. They’re genuine proposals from staff in organisations with the potential to make these changes.

The course is designed to support the development of these projects throughout. This means the participants are ready to get rolling on them as soon as they return to their workplace.

The course covers three sets of two-day face to face sessions. During the first two days we take an in-depth look at the many challenges facing humanity. We explore opportunities to make the re-connections with natural reality that best inform our responses. As an organisation SBN is very much at the beginning of a journey of cultural awareness. So, in the course we touch on Te Ao Māori perspectives. They offer uniquely powerful tools for this work in Aotearoa New Zealand.

In part two we employ the skills of influencing expert David Savage. He equips our participants with the techniques they need to get their chosen project over the start line. And then, in the final two-day session, we bring it all together. We cover the latest market intelligence on sustainability issues, certifications and ways to work with stakeholders.

There’s also a huge emphasis on team working throughout. By the time we get to the final day we’ve gone from strangers, to colleagues to friends on a mission, or many missions! By the end of that final afternoon I’m equal parts exhausted and excited to do it all again.

The next course starts in September. Places are limited. Book now.