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July 17, 2023

What Is A Good Leader In The Environmental Movement?

Environmental leadership is critical for driving meaningful action towards a more sustainable future. But what are the qualities and skills that make for an effective environmental leader? Chances are, the leadership qualities that you see in your friends, family, and bosses are also the important leadership qualities that make a good environmental leader.

Great leaders know how to listen. They develop leadership skills through time, keeping a positive attitude and leveling up their emotional intelligence. Outstanding leaders are courageous and unafraid to take risks, but they also cultivate self awareness and work on - or around - their flaws.

Key Leadership Skills and Qualities for Environmental Advocacy

Most of what makes great leaders can be found across sectors. Successful leaders have solid business strategy, are great with other team members, and achieve success by lifting the whole team up - not tearing it down. Here are some of the most important leadership qualities for good leaders in the environmental movement:


An effective environmental leader needs to be a visionary, able to see the big picture and devise a strategic plan to achieve their environmental goals. They need to have a deep understanding of the current ecological situation and the ability to envision a sustainable future. This helps inspire and mobilize their team and stakeholders towards this shared vision.


Environmental issues are complex and interconnected, requiring collective action for impactful change. Hence, a good leader should be collaborative, able to build partnerships and foster a sense of unity among diverse stakeholders. They must be skilled in facilitating dialogue and cooperation between different interests and sectors.

Resilience and Persistence

Environmental advocacy often involves confronting powerful interests and overcoming numerous obstacles. Therefore, resilience and persistence are critical. A good leader must have the ability to maintain determination and motivation in the face of adversity, and to bounce back from setbacks.

Strong Ethical Standards

The fight for environmental justice is fundamentally a moral endeavor. Hence, a good leader needs to have strong ethical standards and be able to make tough decisions based on what’s best for the environment and future generations, even when those decisions might not be popular.

Communication Skills

Finally, effective communication skills are crucial. A leader must be able to clearly articulate their vision, goals, and the urgency of environmental issues to diverse audiences. They should be persuasive, able to inspire others to action, and adept at addressing concerns and objections in a respectful and constructive manner.

The SPEND Framework and Important Leadership Development In Environmentalism

In this section, we'll explore the SPEND framework - superheroes, politicians, earth stewards, nerds, and disruptors - and how each archetype can contribute to environmental leadership.

You can learn more about the SPEND framework - complete with good leadership examples, in my upcoming book "Every Wild Voice" - a book that epxlores what it takes to make effective leaders in the environmental movement.


Superheroes have a strong sense of purpose and values, and are committed to using their powers for good. In the context of environmental leadership, superheroes use their passion, creativity, and determination to drive real change towards a more sustainable future. They inspire others to take action, and lead by example through their own behavior and choices.


Politicians have strong communication skills and are adept at navigating complex systems and structures. In the context of environmental leadership, politicians can use their ability to build relationships and coalitions to drive policy change and create systemic solutions to environmental challenges. They can also use their platform to raise awareness and advocate for environmental issues on a larger scale.

Earth Stewards

Earth stewards have a deep connection to nature and a strong sense of responsibility for protecting the planet. In the context of environmental leadership, earth stewards prioritize conservation, sustainability, and stewardship, and work to educate others about the importance of environmental responsibility and preservation. They also prioritize intergenerational equity, recognizing that we have a responsibility to protect the planet for future generations.


Nerds have a strong technical knowledge and a passion for learning and innovation. In the context of environmental leadership, nerds use their expertise and analytical skills to develop new technologies, processes, and solutions that can drive progress towards a more sustainable future. They also prioritize data-driven decision making and are adept at communicating complex information in a clear and accessible way.


Disruptors challenge the status quo and are unafraid of taking risks and trying new things. In the context of environmental leadership, disruptors are willing to challenge established norms and systems that contribute to environmental degradation, and are willing to advocate for radical change when necessary. They prioritize innovation, experimentation, and bold thinking, and are not afraid to push boundaries in order to drive progress towards a more sustainable future.

Creative Leadership Means Making It Your Own

An exceptional leader doesn't just pick one of these archetypes and run with it. They evaluate the most important leadership characteristics and then tailor their approach to fit their own unique strengths and weaknesses. The best leaders are able to combine different qualities of all five archetypes, creating a holistic leadership philosophy that works for them.

Leadership is never perfect - it's an ongoing process of self-reflection and evolution. It's important to stay humble and open to learning new skills as you progress in your effective leadership journey.

Remember, leadership qualities are skills, built up by experiences - they're not traits inherent to your soul. True leaders spend time each week leveling up their leadership skills, through reading and writing and networking.

One survey of good leaders found that they believed their best qualities or examples of great leadership qualities were:

  • leading by example
  • collaborative decision making
  • humor and storytelling
  • meeting one on one with team members

All of these activities are hallmarks of a better leader and ultimately, a successful business. Leadership styles that focus on good leadership or direct reports are bound to be more successful than leaders who only listen to themselves.

By building a leadership style that incorporates all of the qualities above, you'll ensure that your team and business will remain successful. So don't be afraid to get creative with what leadership looks like for you - it's an ever-evolving process! Just remember that empathy, humility, and authenticity are key components of any good leader. If you can focus on self awareness, you'll continue to improve your leadership abilities for years to come.


Effective environmental leadership requires a diverse range of skills and qualities, as demonstrated by the SPEND framework. Whether you identify as a superhero, politician, earth steward, nerd, or disruptor (or a combination of these archetypes), there are many ways in which you can contribute to the movement for a more sustainable future. By staying informed, building relationships, taking action, and advocating for change, we can create a better world for all.

Preorder "Every Wild Voice" Today!

Now that you've got a taste of what the SPEND framework entails, it's time to dive deeper. "Every Wild Voice" - my upcoming book - is an exhaustive guide for you to continue your journey to become an effective environmental leader. It further explores these archetypes and equips you with the tools to develop your unique leadership style.

Just like nature, leadership is a vast, complex ecosystem that thrives on diversity. This book will provide you with the knowledge and inspiration to cultivate your leadership skills and contribute to our shared goal - a more sustainable future.

Don't delay, be one of the first to get a copy and step up your leadership game. Preorder "Every Wild Voice" today and make the most out of your role in the environmental movement. Your journey towards becoming a more impactful leader starts now.

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