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Why is Greta Thunberg a great leader?

Greta Thunberg demonstrates how values can stimulate a leadership strategy built on experiences that make people feel part of an issue.
© BuffaloGrid; The Royal College of Art

Transparency, responsibility, collaboration and flexibility are some of the skills and qualities that can generate a leadership able to support a process of innovation driven by values. As an example of this, let’s take a look at Greta Thunberg in terms of her role as a leader.

Greta Thunberg as a leader

An example reflecting this is the influence, and leadership, that Greta Thunberg has been able to cast on an entire generation regarding the responsibility that humanity should take to tackle climate change. In her motivation and passion to imagine a better planet, Greta has inspired many people across the world to believe and share her driving value of sustainable lifestyle; people have responded to her call through personal and collective actions.

Greta has achieved this through a narrative that has empowered people to make and drive change; it has given people the means to realise they can drive change through personal and collective behaviour. She has created a space where responsibilities are shared across those supporting the same values and she has activated a feedback loop where the values she believes in and represents are empowering others to engage locally through personal and collective actions. This narrative built upon action has made her cause a people’s cause; it has distributed leadership across anyone supporting her.

Why this leadership model works

This model of leadership is transparent, open, collaborative and responsible in discussing values as a means for defining objectives. Such an attitude develops a system in which people feel inspired, empowered and, most importantly, in a position to take decisions – and be responsible and accountable in doing so.

As values have influence on behaviour, decision-making and attitudes, they can shape a model of leadership based on stimulating awareness of the impact one’s actions can have in driving change. This model is based on dialogue, conversation and feedback; these inform collective decisions and create a space where people feel they have the agency and also the responsibility to align with the objectives shared by the community. Such a model is a behavioural framework where choices and decisions are collectively discussed as consequences, and values direct these conversations to inspire and guide.

The Greta Thunberg example demonstrates how values can stimulate a leadership strategy built upon experiences that make any team member feel part of an issue to provoke actions and reflections.

The design of a value-led leadership is therefore an enhancement of what we have discussed in the past few weeks: people and communities can develop interactions driven by shared values which have the objective to construct common ground that stimulates awareness, responsibility and agency.

© The Royal College of Art
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