What is Eco-Leadership?

Eco-leadership is a term coined by Simon Western in Leadership a Critical Text (Sage 2008) to describe a new leadership paradigm for organizations in the networked and inter-dependent global environment they do business.

Eco-Leaders reframe the form and the purpose of organizations. Connectivity, distributed leadership, ethics, sustainability and leading adaptive networked organizations are all core to the task of Eco-Leadership.

Times Higher Education Review of Leadership a Critical Text (Sage 2008)
Ewart Wooldridge Chief executive, Leadership Foundation for Higher Education writes of Simon's work on Eco-leadership:

“His thoughts about this are very grounded because what he is seeking is an approach based on connectivity. It is about a world of complex interdependencies where we have to find new ways of leading complex organisations within networks of suppliers, consumers, stakeholders and other informal processes over which we can never expect to have traditional leadership authority. This is very much the environment where we are concerned with emergent change, where we are no longer leading change in a traditional sense, but creating the leadership capacity under which we can handle ambivalence and uncertainty. In this situation, the leadership role is increasingly about interpretation and sense-making for the organisation.”

Manfred Kets de Vries Director INSEAD Global Leadership Center writes:

“Dr. Western helps us to obtain greater insight into the enigma of leadership.”

What are your leadership assumptions?

In my book 'Leadership A Critical Text', I identify four discourses of leadership; the Controller, Therapist, Messiah and the Eco-leader. Each discourse represents the way leadership is thought about, the asssumtions that we take for granted, therefore determining how leadership is enacted. For example, the Messiah discourse (epitomised by Transformational leadership) represents the idea of salvation, that leaders will take us to a 'promised land'. Unfortunately the Messiah discourse can also lead to conformist organisational cultures that diminish questioning and critical thinking, dangerously mimicking fundamentalist church cultures. The emergent and important leadership discourse for the 21st century is the Eco-leadership discourse:

“The Eco-leadership discourse is about a new paradigm of leadership. Eco-leadership recognises that within an organisation there are interdependent parts which make up a whole, this goes for all stakeholder relationships, and in ever widening circles that eventually reach the air that we breath. It is about connectivity, interdependence and sustainability underpinned by an ethical and socially responsible stance.” ( Western 2007)


disclosures of leadership

Different leadership discourses are releveant in different contexts and situations. It is important to identify which leadership discourses dominate your thinking, and the thinking in your organisation. Trying to establish new leadership cultures when another discourse is dominant, leads to resistance to change.

Leadership and Organizational Development

Three ways of working with you -

• Consulting and designing organisational interventions

Working with you to identify;

• Training and Leadership Formation

Delivering leadership training specifically tailored for you and your organisation.

This will vary from structured leadership programmes to the concept of 'leadership formation'. A new way of delivering distributed leadership and the Eco-leadership discourse.

• Teaching and Masterclasses

Previous Leadership teaching: MPhil in Critical Management, MA in Management Learning and Leadership, MSc Marconi Leadership at Lancaster University Management School. Internationally at McGill University, Montreal, The IIM Bangalore on the IMPM.

Contact me for Masterclasses/key note speaking on leadership or coaching.

To use ‘Leadership A Critical Text’ as a teaching text/educational aid, download the support materials on the book site:

For more information click on a link below.

The Leadership Game PDF
The Leadership Matrix PDF
Human Resources Leadership PDF