Nature-Centered Leadership

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Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer suggest that we may have entered a new period in geological history where humans dominate the Earth with uncertain consequences—the “Anthropocene.” Efforts to mitigate our environmental indiscretions are confounded by the lack of a shared vision as to how humans and their organizations can co-exist within the natural environment. Nature-Centered Leadership, a concept coined by this author, is a process by which leaders explore ways to promote dialogue among organizational stakeholders in an effort to find common ground for a shared vision. This article expands upon Nature-Centered Leadership with organizational and stakeholder theories as a framework to better understand the importance of institutional perspectives. Institutions, according to Douglas C. North, provide the “rules of the game” by which organizations play. Nature-Centered Leaders promote dialogue around norms and values for environmental sustainability. Organizations need to be responsive to their stakeholders and the norms and values held by the larger community, particularly within the institutional space where organizations operate. We may aspire to protect nature or the planet in the triple bottom line, but organizations are created by people for people, and it may be all too easy for us to trust those organizations to protect our human interests at the expense of our sister and brother species. This article challenges college and university leaders who signed the Talloires Declaration to create an academic climate where students and stakeholders think critically and explore their unquestioned perspectives concerning the environment.