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  • 00:00


  • 00:10

    LYNN WILSON: Hello, I am Lynn Wilson.I'm the executive director and CEOof C Trust Institute, a research andeducational non-governmental organization locatedin Washington state in the United States.Sage asked me to be here today to talk to youa little bit about transformational leadershipand the sustainable development goals.

  • 00:36

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: Transformational leadership is a type of leadershipthat engages the leader with thosethey are leading as opposed to the traditional transactionalleader that offers a reward for the followers doingsome sort of behavior, and they'llget a reward that might be a job,it might be a better office, it mightbe a grade in a classroom.

  • 00:58

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: In contrast, a transformational leaderis someone who engages with thosethey are leading as part of the teamto create a larger outcome.In the case that we're going to lookat today of the Sustainable Development Goals,the transformational leader has to look at the worldthrough the lens of cultures, global issues,

  • 01:20

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: and other factors that make the transformational leaderby definition have to be very, very flexible.While the transformational leader is charismatic,a charismatic leader is not necessarily transformational.If the charismatic leader does notembody the moral and ethical directivesof the transformational leader for the good

  • 01:42

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: of the entire group and of the outcome of the project,then that charismatic leader is not transformational.There are traits of a transformational leader thatmake this work, and those traits,as I mentioned a moment ago, haveto do with the moral and ethical side,but they also have to do with looking at the outcomeapproach.

  • 02:02

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: The approach that says that, yes,there are winners and losers in any choices that you make.You're making outcome choices basedupon trading off very important issues one against the other.The sustainable development goalsembody a very specific way of havingto look at those trade-offs.

  • 02:23

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: The sustainable development goalsare the context for this particular way of lookingat transformational leadership.There are 17 goals with 169 targetsthat encapsulate most of the important social issueson the planet.The strategic director of Lift recentlysaid that they actually embody just about

  • 02:44

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: everything that is important to human natureand human beings across the planet.They range from poverty to hunger to waterto climate change to gender to partnershipsto cities to energy, all of the important issues thathave to intrude relate in order for the worldto be a sustainable place.

  • 03:07

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: Transformational leaders, therefore,have to look at the bridges between many kinds of things.Not just the bridges between the goals themselvesand how do you trade off a need for wateragainst a need for energy in a city, but the bridges ofand the interfaces between cultures,between generations, between political issues

  • 03:31

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: that are happening right now.Kenya is having an election currently.In the Kenyan elections, how are theygoing to trade off the third year of a very, veryexpensive drought, expensive in terms of money,in terms of human lives, in terms of health,against the political directives and the upheavals going onin their country.

  • 03:53

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: So a transformational leader has to look at many elementsat their boundaries.What makes a leader effective in the faceof those challenges besides the moral and ethical core.They need to look at things in an interdisciplinary way.They have to look at time a little bit differently.

  • 04:13

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: They have to look at the long term outcome,not just checking off check boxes to get to.I have achieved this particular short term goal,and in doing so, they also have to becollaborative in a new kind of way.Not just collaborative in the sensethat they work with their peers or theywork with other leaders.They have to be collaborative with their teams,

  • 04:35

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: and they have to be empowering of their teamsby looking at those teams more as colleaguesand taking the long term approach to developingrelationships, building trust.All of those things that will create a long termcommitted team committed to the goalas well as committed to the leader, whichis where that charismatic peace comes into play.

  • 05:00

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: What do some of those look like in terms of the SustainableDevelopment Goals.A few years ago I had returned from working in Zambiaon the lower Zambezi river in a number of villages.And when I came back, we had a talkwith some of our colleagues about what are wedoing to adapt?How are we adapting what we do to the changing

  • 05:22

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: conditions we see?Why did my trip to Zambia change that?It changed that, because I worked with a doctorout in the field, Dr. Charles, who showed mea new type of malaria that had just arrived in Zambezi,the buybacks malaria.It's a dry land malaria.The CDC didn't even recognize it was there yet.

  • 05:43

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: But he was having to treat it, and it was alreadyshowing to be resistant to traditional malaria vaccines.So he was having to adapt on the fly,and this was the only doctor for 200 kilometers in the lowersZambezi, and by the way, he was really only trained as a nurse.And here he was trying to adapt to a new type of malariaworking in the field with an empty pharmacy,

  • 06:06

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: he had six malaria kits from the Gates Foundationto last him for six months, and tryingto adapt to this new kind of health and interventionthat was required.This is the kind of thinking that a transformational leaderhas to do.So coming home, I say to my colleagues how are we adapting?These are changes-- we have a list of things

  • 06:28

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: that from a distance and rather paternallywe think that these folks ought to do in orderto become more resilient.But perhaps we need to rethink our strategies.We came up with some guiding principlesthat perhaps can help us look at howto make those changes as transformational leaders

  • 06:49

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: with the sustainable development goals.The first one is intentionality.Not just what we think internallyin terms of what our intentions are, what we thinkof an intention, but intentions in our communications,our actions towards others, the waywe listen and change, our intention to the outcome

  • 07:10

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: not the output, intention to what is actually-- weactually want to create and being very clear about thatand keeping that in focus.That is extremely important, and it's difficult to do.It's easy to get sidelined by the fact thatin the global regime everyone is very interested about showingmeasurable progress towards a sustainable development goals.

  • 07:33

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: What does measurable progress mean?Does that mean that because we have a checklistto go down to show measurable progress that [INAUDIBLE]malaria doesn't exist?No, it means we may have to adjust what that progress lookslike, because our intention isn'tto show that we did what we said we woulddo in a specific checklist.

  • 07:53

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: It's to help that country and those peoplebecome resilient, which is how they would meet the sustainabledevelopment goals.Although individuals are becomingmore conscious of the changes in the things they need to do,they need some assistance in knowing how to act.

  • 08:13

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: So even once we have awareness, intentionality and createdawareness, there still needs to be a catalyst to action.So the second principle that we came upwith after thinking about our tripwas the principle of complementarity.Complementarity is-- in physics, itis all the colors that have to come together

  • 08:34

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: to create white light.It is not only the colors, but the intensity of those colors.And as the conditions around change,those have to change if you're going to continueto have white light.And we thought that was a pretty good metaphorfor the type of work we need to do in adaptation to createresilience, because there are many factors that

  • 08:54

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: have to come in to creating resilience, whichis our white light, and they haveto be adjusted continually.There are cultural factors, political factors,environmental factors that change.The fact that we have to redraw the map of Antarctica,because we just lost a major piece of a glacier that'sbeen there for a very long time changes

  • 09:15

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: the way we have to look at what our interventions are.So in order to have complementarity,we have to obviously be willing to change those factors.And as transformational leaders, our roleis to create the space for that to happen.But there's another factor, how are those particular people

  • 09:37

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: in the community going to act even if we give them the space?We still haven't figured out what in the worldit is that's going to make those people act.In biology there is a concept called the sleeping functionalgroup.This is a group that will change its behavior

  • 09:60

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: and convene at the time of crisisto keep an ecosystem from flipping out of control.In Australia in the Great Barrier Reef,such a thing occurred in 2006 whenalgae was choking a part of the reef off of Orpheus islandnear the Great Barrier Reef.The reef was dying, nobody knew why, and all of the suddenit started--

  • 10:21

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: the algae started dying.The parrot fish that usually eat the algae were gone,but something was eating the algae.So divers went down and discovered a certain speciesof batfish that usually eats only invertebrates thatwas eating the algae.It only ate the algae until the coral came back to health,and then it went back to its regular behavior

  • 10:41

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: of eating invertebrates.The reef was saved, because the sleeping functional groupself-organized at the point of crisis to change the systemand save it from going out of control and into a disasterstate.The same thing happened with the WIR, the Swiss currency.So if it works for the WIR and it works for the Great Barrier

  • 11:04

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: Reef, perhaps it works for people.And the way it can work for people is for transformationalleaders to give that space and to identify--and this is the hard part--what are those sleeping functional groupsthat at the time of crisis may change to change the systemand keep it from going into a state of disaster in crisis.

  • 11:26

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: And so that's the goal of the transformational leader.You might want to know what we decided for the sustainabledevelopment goals looked like the sleeping functional groupand why.The group that is most at risk that is showing the greatesthealth effects from climate change and environmental change

  • 11:46

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: is that sleeping functional group.It is the youth.Because the youth will come together and self-organizeat the time of crisis, do amazing thingsyou never thought they would do, and thenthey go back to their regular behavior, but they're the ones.And they're the ones that told-- they told methat they were sleeping functional group when

  • 12:07

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: a group of us who were talking with doctorsand other scientists and we were talkingabout all the crisis and all the thingswe were going to lose in this world,and this was just a few years agoat one of the intersession meetings.And so they came up to us and said,well, you may lose what you most care about.For me, I live in the Pacific Northwest,

  • 12:28

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: it's the orcas and the salmon and our way of life,and for other people it was other things.And they said you may lose those.But we have a world worth choosing,and we want something from you.What we want from you is the knowledge and the placeto be able to organize and to change as things changeto create our preferable world.

  • 12:48

    LYNN WILSON [continued]: And that is the challenge and the responsibilityof the transformational leader.


Lynn Wilson discusses the qualities a transformational leader requires to create change for the greater good.

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Transformational Leadership in Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Lynn Wilson discusses the qualities a transformational leader requires to create change for the greater good.

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