Sustainability Leader Motivation Framework

Sustainability leadership development needs more than new knowledge and skills: it needs an underlying motivation to act, in order for the knowledge and skills to be utilised. This study explores the initial and sustaining motivations that drive leaders to pursue sustainability as a profession or vocation. Exploratory interviews were conducted with 16 sustainability leaders in the Philippines working in sectors ranging from corporate, social enterprise, NGO and academia. Findings from thematic analysis reveal significant life experiences that drive initial motivation, how feedback sustains motivation, and the importance of self-awareness and positive psychological factors in starting and sustaining their work or advocacy. A framework for understanding motivations is developed, drawing themes extracted from the interviews, Authentic Leadership theory, and Stern’s Value-Belief-Norm Theory. Recommendations are given on how motivation can be instigated and sustained by: cultivating hope and other positive psychological factors, integrating experiential learning to develop awareness, connectedness and empathy, and creating social support and enabling environments. Further research is recommended to develop an instrument to measure sustainability leadership motivation to inform sustainability education facilitators of the effectiveness of their programmes in inspiring participants to take action.

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