Migrating Canada Geese
Just like humans, animals know the importance of leadership much as these Canada Geese follow a leader on their migration.. (Photo Credit: iStockPhoto)

To solve today’s conservation challenges, we need great leaders. These leaders need to understand not only the severity and complexity of today’s problems, but more importantly they need to recognize how organizations and our culture have changed over the last two decades. Today, our world simply needs more selfless leaders that foster team play in an expanding network of concerned individuals (increasingly on the web). Think Egypt.

I feel empowered to take on these challenges having just returned home from the second installment of a three week leadership training program sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). The most profound part of the training was learning from great trainers – Dave Schrader at LeadingWork and Amy Felix-Reese at Inside Counts. We also used a super informative “360” web-based survey tool.

I asked 24 of my colleagues to fill out the web survey and got back an amazing profile of how people perceive my leadership attributes. The results pushed me to ask myself some tough questions (call or email me if you are interested in all the details). I am still working on many of the answers but now I am confident that I am pointed in the right direction — toward building meaningful and authentic relationships, being a leader of positive energy, fostering team play, coaching new leaders, being truly selfless, having high integrity and authenticity and finally offering a compelling vision to all.

I would recommend two books that have helped me on this journey, The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal; and Play to Win.

After the first session that focused on personal leadership attributes, I just got back from a great “coaching” session — exploring goals, realities, options and commitments rather than simply giving advice. I am currently reading Coaching for Performance to learn more. The underlying premise is that each of us has the answers within, and often just need someone to coach us to explore our assumptions and options. The next training in May will be on network theory, network mapping and highlight creative leadership attributes that are essential for being a successful network weaver.

I hope we can all work in the “greater conservation community” to foster leadership. Big time kudos goes to the National Wildlife Federation for its leadership vision and dedicating resources needed to make these trainings possible. Please contact me if you have thoughts to share or ways we can work together to try to make world a better place for people and wildlife.