11 June 2009

Transformational Leadership

Posted by Admin under: Forum .

The Sustainable Leadership Forum is a non-profit, membership-based organization that supports the highest level of transformational leadership for a sustainable future. At the core of the organization is an inquiry into the nature of the change that is needed, and how to bring it about.

Our programs are a reflection of this inquiry. We hold regular meetings to discuss members’ projects and initiatives, and day-long trainings to deepen our awareness and understanding of the challenges and opportunities of our times.

Our organization is designed to evolve, and draws on a variety of organizational models that have proven successful in other fields. Members invest time and money that is deposited to their account, and can be spent, loaned, or invested in member projects. The Forum is a hub for member initiatives, and a vehicle for cross-fertilization.

Special projects at this time include a youth leadership initiative and a career transition program, both carried out in association with partner organizations.

So what is leadership, and what is transformation? We throw these words around easily, but what do they really mean? For most of us, we usually operate on the “we know it when we see it” model, and it’s easier to provide examples than adequate definitions.

The latest example – that will probably resonate with most of us – is Barack Obama. There is no question about his “leadership,” having come pretty much from nothing (a frequently displaced childhood, an absent father, a funny name) to become the first African-American President. He projects a calm, thoughtful, and balanced approach to a vast range of complex issues. He explains things clearly and speaks the truth in an inclusive manner, addressing even those who disagree with him with respect. He balances vision and pragmatism; and provides inspiration, acknowledgement, and a vision of what’s needed and what’s possible, whether he’s speaking about expanding health care at home, or bringing peace to the Middle East.

But what makes him an effective leader is that what he says, and the way he says it, does resonate with us. He speaks to the concerns of a majority of people; he appeals to their hopes, their aspirations, and their higher nature. “Leadership” is not a quality that exists by itself; it’s a social phenomenon, that is revealed by “followership.” Leaders are those we and others will actually follow. It can be used for good, as with Gandhi; or for evil, as with Hitler. The key is that it strikes a chord that moves people to action.

Obama is also an example of “transformational leadership” – he is about change, and about change in some of the fundamental ways that many of us have come to recognize as needed.

But it’s hard to see how we can distill this, and transfer it to ourselves and others; so we need to go beyond this, and dig into what makes ordinary individuals capable of extraordinary actions. That’s what the Sustainable Leadership Forum is about – can we awaken the leadership in ourselves and in others, to transform our world into an ecologically sustainable, just, and harmonious one – without deluding ourselves as to the realities, which are often messy and confusing, and most certainly have “a dark side” that cannot ever be entirely expunged? (It is why the yin yang symbol combines light and dark, and each side has an element of the other present in it.) We are not talking about utopia (which literally exists nowhere), but about what’s truly viable.

This is what the organization is about, and we constantly need to ask ourselves if we are truly keeping our eye on the ball, and moving it down the field, knowing that the goal is not so much “winning the game” as keeping the game going, and adding others to the play.

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Admin Says:

12 June 2009 at 5:06 am.

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Past Events

Correction: We'll be hosting this year's holiday potluck — "Bringing Solar Power Home for the Holidays" — on Saturday, December 15, 2012 from 4 to 9 p.m. Click here for more details. RSVP to [email protected].
Saturday, November 17, 2012, 10 a.m. Eastern: Sustainable Neighborhood & Community Conversations (III).
Saturday, October 13, 2012, 10 a.m. Eastern: Transforming Neighborhoods and Communities II.
Saturday, September 8, 2012, 10 a.m. Eastern: Transforming Neighborhoods & Communities.
Saturday, June 16, 2012: SLF Potluck June 16: Sustainable Living Communities.
The Sustainable Haiti Conference took place April 23-25, 2012 in Miami.
"Inside Job" Movie Party. Saturday, February 11th, 6:00 PM, Liberty Ridge, The Hills, Bernards Twp, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920.
2nd 'Buy Haitian, Restore Haiti Conference', January 26, 2012, Karibe Convention Center, Petion Ville, Haiti
Dec 11 SLF Potluck: "Bringing Sustainability Home for the Holidays" Basking Ridge, NJ. RSVP to [email protected].
Saturday, July 9, 2011, 4 p.m. Open House Party & Potluck, Saturday, July 9, 4 p.m., Basking Ridge, NJ.
RSVP to [email protected]
Saturday, May 21, 1-4 p.m. EcoCenter Update. At the Morristown EcoCenter, 55 Bank Street, Morristown, NJ 07960.
Saturday, April 16, 1-4 p.m. "Haiti & Us: The Leading Edge of Sustainable Development." At the Morristown EcoCenter, 55 Bank Street, Morristown, NJ 07960. A copy of the update presentation has been posted here.
Saturday, March 19, 1-4 p.m. "Creating the Morristown EcoCenter." Held at 55 Bank Street, Morristown, the site of the proposed EcoCenter.
Saturday, February 19, 1-4 p.m. Monthly meeting, ""A Profound Transformation in Consciousness," Morris County Library, Whippany, NJ. Click here for details.
Saturday, January 15, 1-4 p.m. Putting Idealism into Practice: Tour of Half Moon House. Click here for details.
Saturday, December 18, 1-4 p.m. Challenge & Strategy Session: "Reinventing Wealth," followed by our annual "Potluck for the Planet" from 4 to 8. Click here for details.
Saturday, November 20, 1-4 p.m. Challenge & Strategy Session: "How Do We Measure Sustainable Value?". Click here for details.
Saturday, October 16, 1-4 p.m. Challenge and Strategy Session: "Toward a Sustainable Growth Strategy for New Jersey".
Download the slide presentation here, and the discussion paper here.

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Leadership Quotes

"Nearly every man who develops an idea works it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged. That's not the place to become discouraged."
(Thomas A. Edison—thanks to Regan Caton)

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” (G.B. Shaw)

"There is the true joy of life: to be used by a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; to be thoroughly worn out before being thrown on the scrap heap; to be a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that life will not devote itself to making you happy." (G.B. Shaw)

"Leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others. It is not an opportunity to satisfy personal greed." (Mwai Kibaki, President of Kenya - thanks to Christine Comaford, Rules for Renegades)