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Sustainability leadership requires more balance between feminine and masculine traits

A need to redefine leadership

Leadership is a term too loosely used and a concept with often outdated understandings. Its verb (lead) has lost its essence of doing and is a view too focused on patriarchal traits. Today we live in a world where there are vast social and environmental imbalances around us. Inequality (income and wealth) is increasing on a global scale, and the fact we have exceeded four of our nine planetary boundaries – as a result this increases the risk of irreversibly driving Earth into a less hospitable state. Today we live in a world which needs profound change on multiple levels. We need new leaders and leadership – sustainability leadership.

“A sustainability leader is compelled to make a difference by deepening their awareness of themselves in relation to the world around them. In doing so, they adopt new ways of seeing, thinking, and interacting that result in innovative, sustainable solutions.” – , Wayne Visser and Polly Courtice 

Actors globally have realised this need for profound change. The United Nations (UN), through their development of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), highlighted where this change needs to occur. More subsequently was the release of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These were with out doubt the focal point of the well-watched COP21. The SGDs strongly emphasise the amount of change still needed to be achieved. However, despite all these goals being set and various actions being taken, we are still as far from achieving change as before. We didn’t achieve the UN MDGs. If we continue to operate in the same outdated leadership paradigm the SDGs won’t be achieved either.

Bringing sustainability leadership to youth in schools

At PLANT THE SEED EDUCATION (PTSE) we believe that leadership is about bringing profound change to humanity in order to create a just and equitable world. The Transitional Leadership Programme is designed to transform the manner youth view, interact and react to the term “leadership”. Presently the world and its complexities are changing at a faster rate than ever before. The next generation, and those to follow, need lead us through a process of profound change – this is necessary. Education is the most effective platform to build such a generation. We have taken the initiative to speed up this process and therefore target schools in South Africa with our Transitional Leadership (and various other) Programmes.

Millennials need to embody sustainability leadership

Millennials need to embody sustainability leadership


“It is easier to build stronger children than to repair broken men.” – Frederick Douglass

29th November 2016, Rustenburg Girl’s High School (RGHS) grade 10 learners, were the first to partake in our Transitional Leadership Programme. The one-day programme introduces learners to:

  1. A better understanding of why we need a new type of leadership – sustainability leadership.
  2. Knowledge, skill-sets, and values required for sustainability leaders.
  3. Sustainability leadership real-life examples.

A key focus of the programme is to motivate young learners to become the change makers and active citizens in all that they do. The programme is comprised of five workshops, two video sessions, and a plenary session. Workshops worked on one of three components, based on academic research: the individual leader, leadership context, and leadership actions. Throughout the day learners engaged with set of elements found within each of these components.

Elements of sustainability leadership

Elements of sustainability leadership

Elements required to grow sustainability leaders in schools

Core themes of the programme centred on:

  • The importance of balance (individual leader).
  • Sustainability leadership traits and styles (individual leader).
  • Context for sustainability leadership (leadership context).
  • Systems thinking (individual leader).
  • UN Sustainable Development Goals (leadership context).
  • Individual actions for the SDGs (leadership actions).

The aim being to:

  • Develop systems and holistic thinking (individual leader).
  • Defining new sustainabiity leadership traits for the 21st century (individual leader).
  • Connect learners to what is important in the world (leadership context).
  • Promote collaboration and partnerships (leadership context & actions).
  • Inspire action and courageousness (leadership actions).
Creative ideas for achieving sustainability leadership projects in Rustenburg

Creative ideas for achieving sustainability leadership projects in Rustenburg

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

The Transitional Leadership Programme challenged the RGHS learner’s assumptions and understanding of leadership. Facilitators created a safe space in the workshops to help learners feel comfortable. This allowed learners to engage with and share opinions about the workshop material. Engaged discussions and debates on topical issues and philosophies enabled learners (and facilitators) to learn from their peers. The young women took to the material with eagerness and speed which thoroughly impressed our team.

A highlight from the programme was the seeing the learners release their energy, ideas, and creativity into designing a project(s) centred on a SDG. The young RGHS women blew our team of facilitators away with their project ideas. We look forward to seeing what these learners achieve in years to come. Better yet, we are in the process of developing platforms to help them through the process required to achieve their projects. What they do determines our future.

Contact us here to get a transitional leadership programme into your school. 

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