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Leadership starting points and experiences

My leadership journey

The ‘My’, ‘I’ and so forth in this part refers to Daniel Mossberg.

For me the journey began with a burning passion to change the world and work against injustices. I traveled, worked as a volunteer, was involved in the local Amnesty group. Later at Uppsala University my first leadership experience was as student representative and chair of CEMUS student body. I then worked as a course coordinator at CEMUS, where the student-led educational model gave me plenty of opportunities to both lead and organise different processes. As director of studies and programme director I have learned many things, and I’ll try to summarise some of them briefly below.

Finding your gifts, passion and purpose

The inner drive of wanting to change the world into a better place and to work against what is wrong in the world will always be the foundation my work and leadership is built on. At the start of the course when you introduced yourself you were asked to reflect on your own gifts, passions and what you value. It’s really important emphasize that these gifts, passions, values don’t have to be perfect, super hero like, but they should rather grow out of life experiences.

Finding a community and support - at or outside of work

At CEMUS I found a community of people committed to changing the world and a space where we creatively together with others could do the best courses in the world. It was not that CEMUS, was a perfect community, where everybody agreed on everything, quite the opposite. It was the potential of what we together at CEMUS could do, now and in the future, that became my mission and what was closest to my heart.

Creating space for others

Leadership is about creating and opening up space for others do their work. With this comes a responsibility to challenge and critique ways of doing things that get in the way of what needs to be done. And in some cases setting up structures that prevents behavior that is damaging.

Bottom-up, democratic

The most effective way to lead is together with others, a bottom-up approach where everybody in one way or the other leads. Democratic in this sense doesn’t mean that everybody have to decide on everything all the time, but rather have a model where the right people are involved in the right decisions.

You don’t need to know everything

Knowledge and skills that are relevant for the work you’re doing is off course helpful, but you don’t have to know everything, and you don’t have to be able to do everything yourself. For me, learning through experience has been the best education by far. And by building a team around you, other people can be ones that have the knowledge and skills you don’t have.

Leadership is everywhere and everyone has the potential to lead

You don’t have to have a job title or even a job to be a climate change leader. Leadership is everywhere and practiced mostly unknowingly in many different contexts. Knowing when to lead and when to let others lead is not always easy, but by trying, failing, and trying again you’ll build up your experience when your leadership is needed.

Don’t get caught in stories that makes everything impossible

With climate change and other related challenges it’s easy to become trapped in stories that make us feel helpless and dis-empowered. Although the seriousness of issues should not be downplayed, we can as leaders tell different stories that open up possibilities and make people around us feel that they have an unique role to play. We have to honest, but there’s truth in stories like ‘there’s so many things we can do’ or ‘we have all the tools for solving climate change’.

Your leadership starting points and experiences

What are your leadership starting points and experiences? Add your stories, starting points and key experiences that you want to share in the comments area.

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This article is from the free online course:

Climate Change Leadership

Uppsala University