Sustainability Leadership Mentoring Program

International Projects Unit, Queensland University of Technology, Queensland

The Office of Commercial Services, Queensland University of Technology is working in association with the Institute for Holistic Studies (IHS) to develop and deliver a Sustainability Leadership Mentoring Program. The Sustainability Leadership Mentoring Program is intended to enable and facilitate leaders in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors to bring about sustainable development changes, consistent with global commitments for a better future.  Universally accepted principles for development underpin the Program, with participants supported to achieve changes within and beyond their own organisations and communities. In essence, the Program synthesises contemporary ideas about individual, collective and co-active leadership, as well as systemic intervention and transformation processes required for sustainability. Using a nested approach, the program first provides participants with contemporary approaches and tools for addressing sustainability and complexity.  Second, appropriate leadership models that support this change toward sustainability are proposed (i.e. sustainability leadership).  Design principles that allow for uncertainty are then used by participants to help design their own sustainability leadership projects, which are then implemented in practice. Finally, by reflecting on their own experiences with mentors during their project, in combination with contemporary mentoring approaches, participants build their knowledge and skills in relation to sustainability leadership mentoring. Six modules are included in the program and address six primary questions required for enhancing corporate, organisational and community sustainability:

  1. What tools are required for sustainability? (mod 1)
  2. Which change strategies support these tools? (mod 2)
  3. What leadership supports these change strategies? (mod 3)
  4. How do we best design these? (mod 4)
  5. How do we best implement these? (mod 5)
  6. Which mentoring processes support this design and implementation? (mod 6)

Sustainability_Leadership_Mentoring_Diagram Module Overview The Leadership and Sustainability Program will be facilitated by Linda Langley, Nelson Salangsang and Dr Christine King. All three facilitators have extensive experience in the areas of leadership development, communication and executive mentoring.  Dr Christine King has also been a practitioner, researcher/scientist, and international leader in sustainability for 20 years.  The Program combines a number of elements which encourage participants to gain a deeper understanding of themselves, their leadership style and leadership behaviours towards others, in the context of global frameworks about sustainable development. The two major elements are an intensive learning and design workshop and a customised action-based mentoring program in the workplace or community. Complementary elements include a consolidation workshop and provision of ongoing resources to support practice. Reflecting adult learning principles, the Program will comprise six staged modules. The first four modules are included in a four-day intensive workshop. The fifth module involves a self-directed action learning/research project, with support from a Mentor, over a period of six weeks.  A one-day consolidation module provides the opportunity for sharing learning with other Participants and strengthening resolve to continue. Program Outline Four day Intensive Module 1   Sustainability and the UN Global Compact (1 day) This module will provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of the evolution of the concept of sustainability, different models and perspective of sustainability, as well as contemporary ideas, tools and processes to facilitate sustainable development.  It will focus on the elements that contribute to sustainable benefits and results, rather than the current emphasis on quick but fleeting flashes of brilliance. The module will integrate ideas about how to achieve flourishing and resilient communities and economies while respecting the environment, with an emphasis on finding shared practical visions for a better future.  Global principles, frameworks and models for sustainable development will be used to underpin learning and reflection in this Module. Module 2   Systemic Transformation: Intervention and Innovation (1 day) The Module draws together ideas about what it takes to enable change effectively in the 21st century across organisations and sectors.  It will also support an understanding of the process of developing theories of systemic change. Theories of change provide a means to identify the pathways from actions to sustainable development outcomes and then communicate these to others. The session will include practical facilitation processes for selected cases from a variety of sectors.  The session will also provide some frameworks and practical tips for communicating with, mobilising others and maximising participation in collective action. Module 3   Sustainability Leadership (1 day) This module builds on Module 1 and 2 by focusing on the skills needed to lead and influence sustainable change.  It links up ideas about self-reflection and values, and collaboration between leaders, organisations and communities, given that individually they are not likely to be able to achieve their visions for a better future.  The emphasis is on the inter-related skills needed for “co-active leadership” and “co-creation”, and the workshop will support development of these skills, particularly: self-reflection skills, negotiation skills, cross–cultural communication skills, developing theories of change and partnership development skills.  In addition, this module will touch on the importance of monitoring progress and results for continuous improvement and communication. Module 4   Design Principles for Complex, Uncertain Systems (1 day) This module introduces participants to design principles for use in organisations and communities to address an increasing volatile, uncertain and complex world.  In 2010, IBM conducted interviews with 1500 CEOs, across 60 countries and 33 industries, revealing that the most pressing challenge facing CEOs today is ways of operating in an increasingly complex and changing world, where most CEOs feel ill-equipped.  More and more, thought leaders in this area are looking toward complexity science and thinking from the sustainability and ecosystems management area, which has been working on this problem for many decades.  In particular, these principles not only help participants think about their organisations and communities differently, but also form the basis for designing their action-based sustainability leadership project (module 5) that will be implemented over a six week period in an organisation or community.  Consolidating and Mentoring Module 5   Action-based Sustainability Leadership Project (6 weeks) This module allows for a period of practice, reflection and supported learning.  Individual participants or small teams will consider how to apply the thinking introduced in the first four  Modules to their workplace, community, organisation or network, and then start to organise a process, partnership, program or event which is relevant to their own context.  The module will include the opportunity to work with a mentor for up to 5 hours one-on-one during the 6-week period, as well as access to peer discussion and feedback process. Module 6   Sustainability Leadership Mentoring (1 day) This Module brings participants back together approximately 6 weeks after the first intensive workshop and is focused on reflecting on the process of bringing about change as well as monitoring partnerships and action plans. The Module will provide targeted support for strengthening effective multi-sector or multi-organisation partnerships and for strengthening the Participants’ mentoring relationships. The Program timelines are:

Program Session 1(Group Framework Building and Review) Session 2(Perspectives and Learning Activity) Session 3(Case Studies) Session 4(Team work)
Day 1 Program Launch / Speaker Breakfast / Introductions Mod 1Sustainability 101: An evolutionary perspective Mod 1 UN Global Compact: Case Studies: Just do it Mod 1Models of Sustainability: Where do you fit?
Day 2 Mod 2Group Framework for Sustainability and Systemic Change Mod 2Systemic Intervention, Innovation & Transformation Mod 2Complex Systemic Change: Case Studies Mod 4Introduction to Design Principles for Complexity
Day 3 Mod 3Group Framework for Sustainability Leadership Mod 3Sustainability Leadership Models Mod 3Sustainability Leadership: Case Studies Mod 4Developing Design Framework
Day 4 Mod 4Developing Design Framework Mod 4Developing Design Framework Mod 4Design Presentations Mod 4Design Presentations
6 Week Action Project Mod 55 hours one-on-one time with selected mentor/s6 week project with online discussion and feedback forum with mentors
Return Day Mod 6Project Presentations Mod 6Project Presentations Mod 6Reflections on Program Mentoring Experiences Mod 6 Theories, Models and Tools for Mentoring
Alumni Selected project case studies published onlineOpportunities for ongoing involvement in program mentoring

This Program has an ambitious scope. It seeks to integrate contemporary paradigms and practices from a range of disciplines and sectors in a way which enables individuals and organisations to address shared global sustainability priorities. For this Program, our definition of the “global sustainability” concept includes diverse elements such as:

  • Leadership development for individuals, groups, organisations and sectors
  • Environmental agendas including bio-diversity, pollution and climate change
  • Human rights and social justice issues including legal aid and disability
  • Lessons learned from international aid and development practice
  • Technology that addresses ‘wicked’ sustainability problems such as simulation modelling

The expected target group for this Program is:

  • Established leaders who have responsibility for and interest in corporate social responsibility and global business, including:
    • Chief Executive Officers
    • General Managers
    • Heads of Departments, Schools and Faculties
    • Senior industry professionals
    • Human Resource General Managers
    • Senior Business Development Managers
    • Emerging leaders who seek to do business differently in a rapidly changing world
    • Talented and motivated people from all types of organisations (e.g. multinational to community based) and all sectors (e.g. mining and energy sector; community and social sector; aid and development sector; public sector), who want to make a difference

A second target group will include:

  • Program Managers, learning development designers and capacity building specialists
  • Not for profit and community based organisations
  • Corporate Social Responsibility Officers (CSR Officers)

This program is sponsored and delivered by the Office of Commercial Services, Queensland University of Technology in association with the Institute for Holistic Studies (IHS).  The IHS will develop the Program training modules, co-ordinate and support the Mentor system and other Program features. A number of existing and potential linkages will be further investigated to determine the scope for further formal affiliation and recognition of this Program.

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To register interest please call the International Projects Unit at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) on:
Ph: +61 (0)7 3138 4756 or Email: