Back in March 2011, I enjoyed working with the IEMA to facilitate a workshop for environmental professionals, ably supported by Debbie Warrener. The workshop was organised to give some of the UK's most long-serving and successful internal environmental specialists a chance to share experiences of leadership around sustainable business practice, and collaboratively sketch out the skills environmental professionals need if they are to shift their organisations strategically towards sustainability. There were no presentations - it was a collaborative venture where everyone in the room had wisdom and expertise to contribute.
During the workshop they created a mind map of key skills. This was done very rapidly, following several rounds of discussing challenges successfully met and skills used in doing so.
I came across my notes of this mind map in the nether reaches of my filing pile just now, and it struck me as one of those things which you could work away at for a long time and not improve much.
So here it is.
I was really pleased to see how much was to do with interpersonal skills, influence, collaboration and mainstream management and leadership skills. We have heaps of fantastically technically expert environmentalists working in organisations. Too often they are marginalised and lacking in power or influence. They can find themselves shaking their heads sadly at the decisions made by the people with power, who don't see the unsustainability of their actions or can't see how to change. Combining technical excellence with the savvy of the change-maker is essential.
IEMA's current framework
IEMA have since developed a skills framework at a number of levels which draws on this work, and other research and engagement they have done with their members. You can see it here and read more about how people are reacting to it here.
And there's another framework mentioned in this earlier blog post and the article it links to.
In November 2011, IEMA's magazine published this, looking at the skills and aptitudes needed by some very senior sustainability people in UK businesses, and includes personal stories from a number.