Posted by: genevievetaylor | July 1, 2008

Strategies for Including People in your Sustainability Change Initiative

Including people into your change process isn’t only important – its urgent. Sustainability, like the issue it is trying to solve, is a challenge that requires “all hands on deck.”

How you lead is important. In our classes, we define leadership as “The ability to get results while inspiring trust.” Here are two strategies for making your change process yield results while inspiring trust.

1. Be a strong leader. Strength. A word of many interpretations. When I think of strength, I think of the ancient Chinese proverb – the best general is the one who never goes to war. In this change initiative, you must find the way to be insistent, inspiring, passionate, and enthusiastic, and at the same time, keep a balance with listening to others’ perceptions, even if you don’t agree with them.

Sustainability is only achievable with the help of many, and ultimately, with the individual behavior change of every one of your stake holders. You must keep your focus on integrating true sustainability – which means, get ready for the unpredictable impact of letting other people “in” on the process. You must be so good, that like the good general, you need never fight for what you believe, and instead, find ways to attract others to your cause.

Which brings me to my next point.

2. Let yourself – and the process – be influenced. Sustainability is a topic that people can be quite passionate about – whether you are for or against it. It has the aura of “righteousness” about it, and with that comes an almost super-glue strength attachment to one’s position.

I remember the time I got into a discussion with my highly conservative uncle at a family reunion about whether or not global warming existed. 45 minutes later, after the discussion had turned heated (there was a point in which our family were all standing by, ready to leap in to break us apart) we finally found common ground – he thought that straw bale buildings were “pretty cool;” and I conceded that yes, natural cycles of the earth were indeed contributing to global warming. (I couldn’t concede on his other points… but that’s another story.)

Its surprising what you can find if you allow yourself to be open to what the other is saying – even if it is someone who you, on the surface, so fully disagree with.

Next posting, we will continue with strategies for Leading your Change Process.

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