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The Role of Moral Leadership in Transformation towards Sustainability Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen Leiden University – Onno Vinkhuyzen

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Presentation on theme: "The Role of Moral Leadership in Transformation towards Sustainability Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen Leiden University – Onno Vinkhuyzen"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Role of Moral Leadership in Transformation towards Sustainability Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen Leiden University – Onno Vinkhuyzen – Making the invisible visible, Brighton, 16 Dec 2010

2 Today  Current situation in the realms of Knowledge, Values, and Institutions  Overview of most common leadership styles  Overview of Moral Leadership  Two examples


4 Axioms Humanity as a whole is the moral community we should analyze, only a systemic view is sustainable Human beings have an innate ability to rise above the self-interest model of behaviour that underpins much of current economic and political analysis and express altruism

5 The prevailing knowledge paradigm  certain (scientific) forms of knowledge are highly privileged over other forms of knowledge.  the geographical or institutional source of knowledge greatly influences how it is valued and thus how much impact it has  information for short-term horizons is priviledged

6 The knowledge system needs to be characterised by an attitude supporting wider participation in the generation of scientific knowledge a more welcoming attitude towards experience based knowledge, such as local and indigenous knowledge, as input to decision-making at various levels of governance; and more focus on systemic knowledge which incorporates various disciplines and strives to consider impacts for longer time-horizons.

7 Our value system Is now one where value spheres are often far too limited in geographical scope and time to support global sustainability

8 What we need world-embracing value spheres and leaders who manifest those values, and who are able to formulate inspiring visions of what a society which manifests such values would look like

9 The institutions Now have a bias towards favouring short-term horizons and national self-interest We need a paradigm shift in many institutions from the local to the global level

10 Prevalent mental models of leadership Characteristic conduct PrototypeEffect on group members Effect on group functioning Authoritative Paternalistic Know-it-all Manipulative Styles of leadership Gives orders Exp. Obedience No dialogue Resentment, low motivation, obstruction Army, some organisations Little unity, no unity between leader and group No unity, no development of capabilities Feel betrayed, become cynical, mistrust Politics Hide true motives and personal interests No integration leader and group, no dev. potential Feel inferior, don't participate, leader is frustrated Academics, Consultants, “Experts” Lets know or feel that he is more knowledgeable No cohesion, Dependent, helpless Dependent, No development capabilities Rel. orgs, Char. orgs Love, Care, no faith in cap. gr. members

11 They all dominate decision-making serve an egoistic need for power completely neglect to develop the potentialities of the members of the group

12 Transformation




16 “One cannot solve a problem at the same level of thinking that created the problem.” -attributed to Albert Einstein-

17 ML - the short version Questioning mental models Constructing conceptual frameworks Training of capabilities Utilization of participatory techniques

18 Definition of Mental Models “Mental Models are deeply rooted images that determine how we perceive our environment” -Peter Senge-

19 Conceptual Framework  Conscious  Evolving, because of our ability to question and contemplate  Consistent  New knowledge develops into real knowledge  Thinking versus acting

20 18 Capabilities  Concepts  Skills  Attitudes  Qualities  7 Capabilities that contribute to personal transformation  5 Capabilities that contribute to better interpersonal relations  6 Capabilities that contribute to social transformation

21 ML – the longer version  Service based  Goal is Personal and Social Transformation  Moral obligation to search for and apply ‘Truth’  Perceive and treat humans as Essentially Noble  Transcendence  Training of Capabilities

22 Traditional Leadership seeks to dominate and control others, so that they will serve the one(s) in charge. Moral Leadership seeks to dominate and control self (ego) so that one is free to serve others.

23 Transformation Personal Learn from systematic reflection on action Training of capabilities Social Creative groups, seeds for transformation of society Support for individuals who try to push forward

24 Contingent truth Ascertaining the facts Current reality Relative, but ever deepening understanding Points to the way things should be Normative Based on principles and vision Progressive Ideal truth

25 Concepts of human nature  Racist  Rational animal  Deterministic  Sinner  Essential nobility

26 Transcendence the capacity to detach oneself from “current reality” and to connect with those values and principles which one believes to be of eternal worth and which form part of one’s vision


28 Capabilities which contribute to personal transformation Evaluate one's own strengths and weaknesses without involving the ego Learn from systematic reflection on action within a consistent, evolving conceptual framework

29 Capabilities which contribute to personal transformation Take initiative in a creative and disciplined way and Persevere Think systemically in the search for solutions

30 Capabilities which contribute to better interpersonal relations take part in a non-adversarial, truth-seeking process of decision-making create and promote unity in diversity

31 Capabilities which contribute to social transformation create a vision of a desired future based on shared values and principles and to articulate it clearly and simply so that it inspires in others a sense of commitment towards its fulfilment

32 Practice Ecuador - 1000 educators from all over the country Kosovo – youth workers from different ethnic groups

33 Moral leadership results in Groups that are united Groups that are able to reach their goals Groups that empower their members to develop their capabilities

34 Conclusions No quick fixes Have to look at root causes Humans are very well able to adopt to more expanded value spheres which may lead to change in paradigms

35 “When a true leader has finished his work, the people say, ‘Look at what we have achieved.’” (Chinese proverb)

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